In late July 2015 many home schoolers in California received an ominous e-mail informing them that the ground-breaking Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA) might be forced to close its doors.
WHAT? It is true.
CHEA wrote, in part: “We just concluded the 32nd Annual CHEA Convention, and while many families were blessed and encouraged and supplied to educate their children at home, attendance was only 1/3 of previous years.
By God’s grace, the attendance was enough to completely pay all the bills generated by the event. Praise Him for His provision; however, CHEA has always depended on revenue from the Convention to carry on operations throughout the year since CHEA is so much more than just a convention.
Right now, CHEA only has enough funds to support the staff and office for the remainder of the month of July. After that, the account balance will be $0.”
A little history:
The modern home school movement began in the 1970s. At that time, there were no national or state organizations supporting and lobbying for parents’ rights to teach their children at home. Parents saw the deficits in traditional education and decided to commit themselves to do it better at home. Many professional educators were horrified at the thought.
As the home school movement grew, national organizations like
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), statewide organizations like CHEA and local organizations like Advantage Preparatory Schools (APS) were created by hardworking, self-sacrificing moms and dads with a vision and a conviction for home schooling. The overall mindset was,
“I will do whatever it takes…”
Fast forward to today. Through the efforts of home schooling parents committed to an
“I will do whatever it takes…” mentality, home schooling has pushed its way into acceptance by the educational industry and the nation as a whole. There is nothing lilke success to change people’s minds. What once was a two-option educational system (public school or private school) is now a generally accepted three-option educational system (public school, private school or home school).
Those early home schooling parents won hard-fought battles. The success of home schooling was made possible by their “I will do whatever it takes…” commitment. They also persevered, even under fear that the authorities could show up and simply take away their children. Those parents were willing to do whatever they needed to do to provide their children a Christ-centered and academically sound education.
Today, because of the hard work of those with an “I will do whatever it takes…” mentality, home schooling has become accepted, even trendy. For many, however, the “I will do whatever it takes…” mindset has been replaced with a “What have you done for me, lately” consumer-like mindset. This might be part of the problem CHEA is experiencing.
The new generation of home schooling parents do not seem to have the same mindset as those who came before them. This is true at the national and state level as well as at the local level. It seems also to be true in our churches, where often 20% of the people do 80% of the work.
In APS, for instance, we have seen an increasing reluctance of parents to jump in and sponsor Special Events and in some cases, even attend them. Extracurricular activities such as field trips, sports teams and Co-Op classes are an important part of home education. Without parents enrolling in and stepping up to sponsor and work in these Special Events, they will not continue to be available. That’s right. If things don’t change, CHEA might close its doors. If things don’t change, APS Special Events may no longer be available.
It is my understanding that a number of long-term home school programs, like APS, have changed their business model to no longer include field trips, classes, sports teams, etc. They maintain records and provide accountability, but provide no special events, field trips, classes, etc.
In past years, we have been able to offer a good number of APS Special Events, because veteran APS parents were willing to carry the load. More and more of these veterans are graduating their youngest, leaving the load to be carried by the next generation. “If you want it to happen, make it happen” is not just an APS motto; it is a way of life.
The success of schooling at home is absolutely connected to an “I will do whatever it takes…” mindset. Home schooling is hard work. A commitment to personal sacrifice and personal participation is the key for the success of individual home schooling parents as much as it is for the success of organizations like CHEA, HSLDA and APS.
The pressures that are pushing at CHEA’s doors are equally present for groups like HSLDA and APS. Imagine a world with no CHEA, no HSLDA and no APS.
Don’t think for a moment that the current freedom we have to home school our young would continue without groups like CHEA, HSLDA and APS to defend that freedom. Now ask yourself,
“What have I done for THEM, lately?”
I know you are busy – who isn’t?
Can you imagine how busy the home schooling pioneers were? Those who founded CHEA, HSLDA and yes, APS were all home schooling parents, just like you. It is in our busyness that sacrifice is required.
I know there are financial pressures on your family; But, whatever financial pressure you face in home schooling, multiply that many times over for the organizations like CHEA, HSLDA and APS that serve home schoolers.
What should you do?
Well, for starters, think bigger; think outside of yourself, think “community”. Offer more help to those home school groups that serve you, and help more in your local church, too.
I recently heard of a small church that was struggling to pay its bills. The congregation decided it could save money by letting the paid gardener go and taking on the landscaping jobs themselves. That worked well for a month or two. Now, on Saturday mornings, the pastor can be seen mowing the lawn all by himself (in a tie, no less.)
I wonder how much extra each family would have had to give to keep the gardener. I bet it is about the same as their Starbucks spending. They didn’t want to pay for the gardener, and in the end, they didn’t really commit themselves to do the work, either.
There are still a number of APS families who demonstrate an “I will do whatever it takes…” mindset; but not as many as there once was. Let me challenge you to
risk a little;
try something new,
give of your time and of yourself.
If you have not sponsored an APS Special Event in a while (or maybe never) now is the time to start. The APS office can help. Speaking of the office, If you have not helped with APS back office work, how about offering to do so? Use your imagination; I am sure you can find many things that need doing.
Success in home schooling is directly connected to the “I will do whatever it takes…” mentality. Your kids will learn valuable and practical lessons as they watch you do whatever it takes.
What about CHEA?
They have received last minute donations that will keep their doors open one more month. After that, who knows? You can help them by becoming a CHEA member or by making a donation.
Become a CHEA member.
To join CHEA just click: join CHEA immediately and become a basic $35 Member, $250 Silver Member, $500 Gold Member or a $1000 Platinum Member.