Extreme Social and Political Ideals Reinforced at the ‘Great Homeschool Convention’

From young-earth creationism to Tucker Carlson, the gathering of homeschool families offered a view of the world — and homeschooling — that is filled with anxiety over the left

Sarah Stankorb

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Great Homeschool Convention, Cincinnati

I first learned about the Great Homeschool Convention’s turn through my area in Ohio from a homeschooling family member. She was livid that rather than any of the millions of parents with homeschooling experience or actual expertise in pedagogy, the three-day event’s keynote speaker was going to be Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson.

She sent me a post shared widely in progressive and moderate homeschool circles, written by Susan Wise Bauer, who helped popularize classical Christian education. After Bauer noticed that the event’s keynote speaker would be Tucker Carlson, Bauer, a frequent speaker at these sorts of conferences years ago, lamented, “This is not a home school convention, not any more. If you go, you’re supporting a political agenda.”

For years I’ve interviewed those raised in evangelical Christian homeschooling families. They taught me how theology and evangelical culture spread between homeschool conferences and trickled down to kids through homeschooling curricula from publishers such as Abeka or Bob Jones University Press. They told me how they were taught the upside of American slavery was how many former African people became Christians or how slavery was described as “black immigration.” While some have told me how homeschooling allowed their families to help foster their intellectual interests and creativity, others described how their homeschool social groups also organized young Christians politically and mobilized them to support or volunteer for particular campaigns.

There is a long history of political activism attached to the homeschool movement, ostensibly to protect parents’ rights to teach their own kids, but with stacks of alarmist books and rhetoric warning against secular humanism and Marxism in public schools and threats that government agencies are eager to rip kids from their good, Christian homes.

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Sarah Stankorb

Sarah Stankorb has published with The Washington Post, Marie Claire, Glamour, O, and The Atlantic (among others). @sarahstankorb www.sarahstankorb.com