Many of you are familiar with the excellent work of Michael Farris and the Home School Legal Defense Association [HSLDA]. Back in March of 1983 when Michael and his colleague, Michael Smith, founded the fledgling organization, homeschooling was pretty much a foreign concept to most Americans.
The history books are full of wildly successful people who have received their formal education at home (John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Agatha Christie, to name just a few), nor is it uncommon today to hear about a high-profile individual whose parents have opted to educate them outside of the traditional system, many for religious reasons. The 2007 Heisman Trophy Award winner and current University of Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow, is one such recent example.
It’s estimated that approximately two million students are receiving their formal education at home. How did we go from only a handful in the early 1980’s to a burgeoning grassroots effort a quarter-century later?
According to Dr. Farris, Focus on the Family’s Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Dr. James Dobson, deserves much of the credit. To emphasize this perspective, on Friday, September 25, 2009 the HSLDA presented Dr. Dobson with its Lifetime Achievement Award during its annual National Leaders Conference here in Colorado Springs. Here is a short excerpt of what Dr. Farris said during the award presentation:
Whenever I am asked what was the catalyst of the modern Christian homeschooling movement, I reply without hesitation—this movement arose when Dr. James Dobson did his early broadcasts with Dr. Raymond Moore exposing hundreds of thousands of moms and dads to an absolutely new idea about raising and educating children…Dr. James Dobson dared to come onto the radio and say—“God has something to say to you in every part of your life—and this is without exception”…The political defense of homeschooling was predicated on a belief that it was OK to be involved in politics and be a Christian…Dr. Dobson’s willingness to talk about an idea that was so new, so untested in the modern age, so little known, is a credit both to his courage—and I believe even more—a confirmation that he listens to God.
Through the years, I’ve always appreciated that while maintaining his strong advocacy for homeschooling, Dr. Dobson has also been keen to emphasize a personal belief that parents deserve the right to decide for themselves which type of education best suits their family and its needs. While some children thrive outside of a formal educational system, other temperaments are best suited for the traditional classroom.
I’m thrilled to report that our boys, Trent and Troy, are currently enrolled in a fantastic local charter school. I’m just grateful we have the choice—a right that the HSLDA works diligently to protect.
So, I’d like to join Michael Farris and his organization in adding my voice of congratulations—and thanks—to my colleague and dear friend, Dr. James Dobson, for his tireless support of the homeschool movement. Given the vantage of time, isn’t it remarkable (and humbling) to see how the Lord can use just one person to make such a significant difference in million of lives?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another accolade bestowed upon Dr. Dobson just this past weekend. The Council for National Policy (CNP) is a behind-the-scenes but highly influential group featuring some of the greatest conservative minds out there today. CNP conferred upon Dr. Dobson the “Ronald Reagan Lifetime Achievement Award” for “unwavering dedication to the citizens of this country and for always striving to make America ‘a shining city on a hill.” CLICK HERE to view the ceremony.
Dr. Dobson was in good company. Previous recipients of the award included my predecessor, the Honorable Donald P. Hodel, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and conservative stalwart Mrs. Phyllis Schlafly.
You might not have a national radio program for a platform. Few of us will ever be lauded publicly with a high profile award. But if your work is of the Lord, it’s no less important. Where is the Lord looking to use you? What important task or passion has He laid on your heart?