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A homeschooler’s perspective on school choice

AB

Is it weird for a homeschooler to be working on education policy?

I can’t tell you how many times I asked myself that question. It’s one that took me a while to answer, but I would like to share why a little girl who was homeschooled her entire life is now working to change the future of education in Mississippi.

I was born and raised in Laurel, and I’m the middle child of seven kids. My mom was my teacher which meant everything was a teaching moment. You found a penny on the floor? How many pennies would you need to make a dollar? Driving to the track? We have time to do a spelling bee!

That’s what homeschooling is like. It’s highly individualized. You see how your child learns, what excites them, their struggles and strengths, and you meet those needs.

A good example of that is that my school looked very different from my little sister Hope. I didn’t start science until I was thirteen, but Hope’s passion is animals. Mom started Hope on animal focused science books when she was ten. She finished three books in a year and a half. It’s her passion.

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That’s what I grew up with, and my first experience in a public school classroom happened when I was tutoring a sixth grade math class while in college. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I would leave everyday crying. I saw the stark contrast between the education I received and what other Mississippi students were receiving.

The light bulb moment came for me when I left tutoring one day. We had been working on fractions for the past six weeks, and the teacher told me, “When you come next week, we’ll be moving on from fractions.”

I can remember in that moment realizing that the half of the class I had been helping didn’t understand fractions and would never understand them. This would be a huge hole in their education. How many other holes did those students already have? How many more would they accumulate in their lives?

The only response was, “We don’t have time to keep working on fractions.” My heart was broken again, and I cried. I’ve continued to cry for those kids, but that moment lit a fire in me. That answer wasn’t good enough for me.

There has to be another answer.

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That’s why I’m fighting for school choice. I want families to have options. It’s up to you what you choose, but those options should be available to families.

The change we’re trying to make at this point is creating scholarships that allow kids to go from public school to private school and have the state funding follow the child. It doesn’t affect a school differently than if a child had left for any other reason, but does make it financially feasible for families to make that change.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have several thousand dollars a year extra just lying around.

As I’ve talked about this issue with other homeschooling families, I’ve had so many of them start advocating with me for this change. This policy doesn’t help homeschoolers. They aren’t in public school. They already chose something else for their kids, but they understand the desire to choose something other than a traditional public school for their kids.

The most powerful person to advocate for an issue is the person who doesn’t get anything out of it. That’s why I’m so thankful that so many families have caught hold of the vision of how this can change the future of Mississippi.

Psalm 3:3, 4 says, “But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.” These verses have meant a lot to me as I advocate for this change. It seems like such an insurmountable task to change the Mississippi education system. However, God hears my cry. He sees my broken heart, and He has an answer. As I fight for school choice, I know that this issue is bigger than a legislative policy, and God knows what the future holds.

Is it weird for a homeschooler to be working on education policy? No.

I’ve decided that it’s an asset in my job. I can look objectively at the public education system, and I can understand the desire to have school choice because I’m the product of school choice. Homeschooling is the manifestation of freedom in education, and I’m the product of that freedom.