Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

3/9/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

All parents are home school parents because they are the first teachers and family is the first school

At Baptism I exhort the parents "You are the first teachers of your children in the ways of faith. May you also be the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what you say and do." At the heart of the  teaching of the Church on the Christian family is it's educating mission. 

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/9/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Home School, parental choice, school choice, education, homeschooling, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - I was recently asked why Catholic Online does not have more articles about Home Schooling. The fact is we have written many - and we would welcome many more. The Home School movement is a great gift to the whole Church. However, with this article I want to consider an underlying truth about the fundamental role of parents in educating children. Because, understood properly, we come to see that all parents are homeschoolers. Let me explain.  

As a deacon of the Church I am an ordinary minister of Baptism. At each Baptism I exhort the parents during the Rite, "You are the first teachers of your children in the ways of faith. May you also be the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what you say and do." At the heart of the  teaching of the Church on the Christian family as a domestic church is it's educating mission. The home is the first school.

It is because of this that I can say that all parents are "home school parents". Some choose to share that educational mission with others outside of the home as their children mature. When they do, those partners in the educational mission should look first to the parents, not to a bloated federal bureaucracy.

My wife and I raised five children. We now have six grandchildren, one of whom we are helping to raise in our home. We never officially "home schooled". Instead, we chose to extend our teaching mission by empowering others, both in parochial schools and public schools, to assist us in fulfilling our primary educational mission.

However, all parents are "home school parents". Some choose to share that educational mission with others outside of the home as their children mature. There is no conflict between supporting parochial schools and supporting home schooling.

Any controversy or competition between homeschooling parents and supporters of Catholic education is mistaken. It must be dealt with quickly before it undermines the vital teaching of the Church on the primary role of parents in the education of their children and confuses the faithful. We need every home school and every good parochial school, private academy and solid public school we can get! 
 
There was a widely accepted doctrine which was the polestar of educational law for many years that teachers act in loco parentis - a Latin phrase meaning on behalf of the parents. Sadly, we have lost our way and are increasingly usurping the vital role of parents.  The very origins of what became the "public" school system in our Nation began with families pooling resources in small community schools.  We need to reconsider our history to chart our future.  

Some who oppose "school choice" or, more properly "parental choice" in education are entrenched in the current federalized educational bureaucracy and the culture which fuels it. Increasingly people of every walk of life will admit the obvious, our educational system is broken. I write as an ardent supporter of "Parental Choice in Education."

I am not against government.Because I advocate for  limited government and the application of the principle of subsidiarity, it is too often assumed that I am "anti-government". That is not the case. I insist that we remember that government begins in the family. Any good governance beyond the family must defer to the first government of the family and follow the social ordering and good governance principle of subsidiarity.  That principle reminds us that good government is bottom up, not top down, deferring first to the smallest governing unit; not usurping but empowering and helping families.

The current overly federalized approach to education in the United States is failing. Statistics and experience confirm the obvious. It is time for a change and parental (school) choice is the change that is needed. It means affirming again, as a matter of public policy and legislation, that Parents are the ones who should be able to make the choice of how to best extend their own teaching mission outside of the home.

The proper role of Federal, State or Local Government is to support, NOT USURP, the first government in the home. Rather than focus on the word "School" - which is then used to arouse a "public" school vs. "private" school debate - we should use the phrase "Parental Choice".  After all, it is Parents who are the first teachers of their children and the family is the first school. This is where the policy debate should focus.

Those of us who support school choice should watch our language. We are not against government. We simply maintain that government begins in the family. Good governance recognizes the first government of the family and follows the social ordering and good governance principle of subsidiarity by deferring to the smallest governing unit; not usurping but empowering and helping families. The current overly federalized approach to education in the United States is failing.

The teaching of the Catholic Church on the primacy of parents in the educational mission is clear and helpful. If understood properly, and presented by actively involved Catholics, it can provide insights for a new National Educational policy.  After all, the primacy of marriage - and the family founded upon it - as the first cell of society, the first church, first government, first school, first hospital, first economy, and the first mediating institution of the broader society is at the heart of Catholic Social Thought. Reaffirming it is the path to social recovery.

A just and efficient philosophy of government should be founded upon the truth that the family is the first government and that all other government must first be at its service. This is not just a "religious" truth, it is the TRUTH. In his marvelous apostolic exhortation on the family entitled "The Role of the Christian family in the Modern World" (Familiaris Consortio) Blessed Pope John Paul II affirmed the social and political role of the family and called for the development of a "family politics". The teaching of the Catholic Church on the primacy of parents in the education of their children is fundamental and Catholics must lead the charge.

Catholics should embrace a "family politics". We desperately need it.  It is time to help people understand Parental Choice in education. It is about the recognition of the family as the first school and first vital cell of human society. This is not just our "religious" position, it is the truth. Parents are the first teachers of their children and all education begins in the home.  We need to acknowledge in our positive law the right of parents to choose for their own children where they go to school. That choice should include the full array of options, public, private, parochial, charter and home schools, no matter what their economic status.

Education outside of the home is an extension of the parental role and should recognize and defer to the parents primary role in the educational mission. These children are not, in the words of the US Supreme Courts' Wisconsin v Yoder decision "....mere creatures of the State."  The family is the first government and the first school house. We have forgotten that objective truth as a nation and we are reaping the consequences.

Here is an insight taken from the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio": "The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others..."

In his "Letter to Families" the late Pope wrote "Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area; they are educators because they are parents. They share their educational mission with other individuals or institutions, such as the Church and the State. But the mission of education must always be carried out in accordance with a proper application of the Principle of Subsidiarity."

"This implies the legitimacy and indeed the need of giving assistance to the parents, but finds its intrinsic and absolute limit in their prevailing right and actual capabilities. The principle of subsidiarity is thus at the service of parental love, meeting the good of the family unit. For parents by themselves are not capable of satisfying every requirement of the whole process of raising children; especially in matters concerning their schooling and the entire gamut of socialization.

"Subsidiarity thus complements paternal and maternal love and confirms its fundamental nature, inasmuch as all other participants in the process of education are only able to carry out their responsibilities in the name of the parents, with their consent and, to a certain degree, with their authorization."

Parental (School) Choice is an idea whose time has come. It is a matter of true social justice, not what is masquerading as social justice in some circles these days. The opposition of some in control of the teachers unions to such a just approach to educational policy and fundamental fairness shows how far some of these mediating associations have strayed from their primary role. They fail to defer to the first mediating institution of the family.  Parental choice in education is right for our children, right for our parents and right for our Nation.

In addition, we need to reaffirm the primacy of parents in the education of their children and the vital role of homeschooling. There is no conflict between support for good and faithful parochial schools and support for Catholic home schooling.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Keith A Fournier: Why I Will Not Give Up On Politics Watch

Image of

By Keith A Fournier

Like many in the United States, I am trying to make sense out of what is happening to this Nation which we love. The temptation, so clearly present in our circles, is to fall into two separate approaches, both of which can lead to error. One is to completely ... continue reading


TIME TO PAY: Uninsured in 2014 will have to pay tax penalty Watch

Image of Take a married couple with $100,000 in income - their bill comes to $797, according to the Tax Policy Center ACA penalty calculator.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is time to pay the piper. If you disregarded signing up for Obamacare in 2014 or failed to make payments - you are going to have to pay a fine. As Americans sit down in coming weeks to compile their tax returns, they will have to contend with Obamacare's ... continue reading


'You have to know who your enemy is' Downplaying and mislabling Islamic extremism is a dangerous path for the U.S. Watch

Image of Islamic extremism is terrorism, it is not simply criminal conduct.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Obama administration refuses to acknowledge the terrorism attacks around the world for what it is, Islamic extremism. This blatant disregard of the real problem can be harmful for the country. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Secretary of State, John Kerry was ... continue reading


Striking back at the Dems! Koch brothers allocate nearly ONE BILLION DOLLARS for 2016 presidential race Watch

Image of David Koch, one of the leaders of a political action network that has the monetary power to spend hundreds of millions on political races.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It seems the Koch brothers have no plans to ease their political spending habits in 2015, as top officials in the brothers' political network released a budget of $889 million to be spent on the vast political network ahead of the 2016 presidential race. LOS ... continue reading


Turning off spigot: Obama aims to possessively guard oil-rich Alaskan coastline from development Watch

Image of Alaska's coastal plain has been at the center of a fight between conservationists and advocates of greater energy exploration in the U.S. for a very long time.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Just because there's been relief at the corner gas pump doesn't mean that the United States won't need any more oil in the near future - far from it. As such, many are infuriated that U.S. President Barack Obama seeks to designate the vast majority of Alaska's ... continue reading


And the field gets thicker! Rubio joins Bush, Romney, Walker and Christie as 2016 presidential hopeful Watch

Image of Marco Rubio, a Senator from Florida may be crafting a campaign team for a potential 2016 bid.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A fifth Republican is making noise that could be interpreted as intent to make a 2016 presidential run. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Florida Senator Marco Rubio is possibly gathering a campaign team, planning out a slew of state visits starting in February, and ... continue reading


Scott Walker enters the 2016 Republican nomination ring with speech attacking Obama's failed policies Watch

Image of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker gave a speech in Iowa, a move which may put him in the running for the Republican nomination.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney may have been the first Republicans to make it clear-though still unofficial-that they intend to run for the Republican nomination in 2016, but ... continue reading


Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney hold summit meeting: Are they plotting election strategy? Watch

Image of There have been stories in a number of outlets that Jeb Bush proposed the meeting weeks ago, in order to thank Mitt Romney for his past party leadership.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former governors Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are having a summit meeting. The meeting will be in Utah. Speculation swirls about what the meeting will entail. Some GOP party officials hope "the two former governors will find a way to avoid competing presidential campaigns ... continue reading


An average of 27 late-term abortions happen every day in the United States; the bill to protect the unborn from this cruel pain was dramatically dropped by the GOP Watch

Image of 10,000 babies are killed each year through late-term abortions.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An estimated 10,000 unborn babies are killed each year through late-term abortions. This averages out to 27.4 abortions taking place 20 weeks or later per day or 1.14 per hour, according to the Congressional Budget Office. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Pain ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone on Pope Francis, Politics, and Catholic Social teaching Watch

Image of Fr Frank Pavone - Fidelity to the Gospel requires that we be able to prophetically challenge the positions of all political parties, and that our loyalty to Christ and his teaching supersedes our loyalty to any political party, although such loyalties are not per se incompatible with being a Christian.

By Matt C. Abbott

It remains true that the right to life is the most fundamental right and that the duty to defend it is a more urgent priority than other social justice priorities. But to what extent that fact helps or hurts a political party depends upon the party, and his ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
1 Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope ... Read More

Psalm, Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75
69 and he has established for us a saving power in ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:35-41
35 With the coming of evening that same day, he said ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 31st, 2015 Image

St. John Bosco
January 31: What do dreams have to with prayer? Aren't they just random ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter