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 August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Political donations soar after Supreme Court rules against campaign contribution caps Watch

Image of In April the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that capping the amount of money a person contributes to a political campaign was unconstitutional.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When the U.S. Supreme Court did away with financial restrictions on federal candidates and party committees in April 2014 during their hearing of the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, wealthy individuals who frequently donate to party committees and ... continue reading


Of nearly 38,000 immigrant children in the U.S. - only 280 deported Watch

Image of Federal officials expect another huge surge of children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to begin shortly after the temperatures go down.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a surprising bit of news, the Obama administration has quietly released a huge majority of the illegal immigrant children who poured over the U.S. Mexico border earlier this year. Furthermore, they're making their homes in very well-to-do American ... continue reading


Classic Cloward-Piven: Here's the simple reason why Obama is breaking the immigration system in the USA Watch

Image of Obama's Cloward-Piven strategy is showing.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

You can't fix something unless you break it first. This appears to be what Obama has done to the U.S. immigration system. Political analysts now expect that Obama will use the current immigration crisis to overhaul the system into something he likes. But more ... continue reading


Stopping at nothing, Davos Man, Warren Buffett, donates staggering $1.2 billion to promote abortion Watch

Image of Obama awarding Buffett the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Warren Buffett has given $1.2 billion to fund abortion advocacy and "research." This startling conclusion comes from the New York Times, which is reporting that he donates hundreds of millions of dollars at a time to a foundation named after his late wife, Susan ... continue reading


Get ready America: Obama set to bypass Senate on international treaty Watch

Image of President Obama and his administration are getting ready to present a climate change treaty to the U.N. and are willing to ignore a Constitutionally required Senate approval to do so.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama is working to create a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut fossil fuel emissions; however, he is seeking to do this without ratification from Congress. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This agreement is ... continue reading


That was one costly Web site! In fact the most expensive in Internet history. The Cost of Healthcare.gov estimated $1.7 Billion Watch

Image of The 60 contracts related to the development and operation of the Federal Marketplace started between January 2009 and January 2014. The contracts ranged from health benefit data collection and consumer research, to cloud computing and Web site development.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

That's one might expensive Web site! It's estimated that the Healthcare. Gove Web site, intended to facilitate health care reform, or "Obamacare," has cost U.S. Taxpayers about $1.7 BILLION dollars. That's not even the half of it, as the U.S. government is ... continue reading


Obama administration announces new HHS mandate rules Watch

Image of Sylvia Burwell, HHS secretary, said that the new rules will ensure access to free contraception,

By CNA/EWTN News

The Department of Health and Human Services issued on Friday new rules regarding its contraception mandate, after the Supreme Court ruled against its application to certain companies this summer. (CNA/EWTN News) - The rules create a new way for non-profit groups to ... continue reading


BEEN THERE: Attorney General Eric Holder shares personal experiences while in Ferguson Watch

Image of Attorney General Eric Holder shakes hands with Bri Ehsan, right, following his meeting with students at St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In Ferguson, Missouri to investigate the officer-involved shooting of teenager Michael Brown, Attorney General Eric Holder shared personal stories of his own encounters with racial discrimination. "I am the Attorney General of the United States, but I am also a ... continue reading


One percent? Try the MORE THAN A THIRD in U.S. who rely on Welfare Watch

Image of Back in the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Back in the "Occupy Wall Street" days, protestors rallied around the concept of the United States' "One Percent," which referred to the people with power in the U.S. government. On the other side of the coin, more than ONE THIRD of all U.S. households are now ... continue reading


SMILE FOR THE CAMERA! Texas Governor Rick Perry cheerfully turns himself in Watch

Image of Under duress, Texas Governor Rick Perry maintained an upbeat and positive attitude. Arriving at the Travis County courthouse in Austin for booking and fingerprinting, Perry gave a warm smile for his mug shot.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Under duress, Texas Governor Rick Perry maintained an upbeat and positive attitude. Arriving at the Travis County courthouse in Austin for booking and fingerprinting, Perry gave a warm smile for his mug shot. He's charged with felony corruption charges ... 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, First Corinthians 2:10-16
10 to us, though, God has given revelation through ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 13-14
8 Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger, full ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:31-37
31 He went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 2nd, 2014 Image

St. Ingrid of Sweden
September 2: Born in Skänninge, Sweden, in the 13th century, St. Ingrid lived ... 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