I. A Background to State Education:
A. State control of education has always been a key component of humanist and socialist ideology; an article of their faith promoted since Aristotle, and espoused by Marx and Hitler. Engels (Marx’s co-writer and supporter) claimed that,
with the transfer of the means of production into common ownership, [communism] the single family ceases to be the economic unit of society…The care and education of the children becomes a public affair; society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not.1
Hitler said to the German people in 1934, “Your child belongs to us.”
B. State education has always been hostile to Christianity, and the family. As early as 1864, John Swett, the Superintendent of California state schools, claimed that
the child should be taught to consider his instructor…superior to the parent in point of authority… the vulgar impression that parents have a legal right to dictate to teachers is entirely erroneous…parents have no remedy as against the teacher.
As a consequence,
modern education sees the state as educator, and the state is held to be the responsible educator, rather than man… Statist education is at very least implicitly anti-Biblical, even when and where it gives the Bible a place in the curriculum.2
C. State education in Australia has consistently propagated humanist ideology. Throughout the 20th century, State curriculum writers progressively removed any Christian content from the syllabus. In 1984, Joan Kirner, the Victorian Minister for Education, claimed that “education has to be about overthrowing the capitalist system,” and in 1986, Rod Cavalier, the NSW Minister for Education, claimed in Parliament that “children belong to the State.”
D. State education in Australia since the 1870’s has led to the establishment of a massive departmental bureaucracy, in the twenty first century. A successful attack on the department’s legitimacy and authority could lead to significant job losses. Thus the department bureaucracy has become fiercely protective of its monopolistic position of control, and tolerates no threats or rivals. “Quality education” therefore, if left in the hands of bureaucrats, is likely to be any policy which doesn’t threaten the department’s authority and longevity.
E. State education has been a spectacular and expensive failure for generations. (It presently costs in Australia, about $10,000 annually, to educate a child in the State system; many homeschooled children are educated successfully, for a tenth of this.) Its first failure was its refusal to acknowledge the existence of God; curriculum would thus be written without any acknowledgement of God, and would be amoral as a result.
Thus “it is not an accident that the de-Christianisation of schools and state [in the U.S.] since World War II have been followed by a great increase in crime, drug use, illegitimacy, sexual crimes, perversions, pornography, and more.”3 Its second failure was in assuming that it had a legitimate role, in coming between parents and their children.
II. Registration for the Homeschooling Family:
There was conflict between Rome and the early church. Rome’s policy toward all religions was that no religion had a right to exist unless it was a licit religion, duly licensed by the Empire, and possessing a certificate which that religion or cult was supposed to hang on the wall of its meeting place. A part of the procedure whereby licit status was secured, was to appear before a Roman imperial center, and there to put a little incense on a brazier before an image of the emperor or a battle insignia, and then to declare briefly ‘Caesar is Lord!’ That was all. It was an acknowledgement of the sovereignty of Caesar over every area of life and thought.1
When we say that we believe in God and in Christ, we are saying that we are putting our faith in a higher Being. When a school is accredited, the school is putting its faith in a higher institution, which grants the school legitimacy. When a school is accredited by the state, the school is putting its faith in the state and being accepted by the state. Thus, accreditation is a religious act. This explains why accreditation is one of the means used by humanistic governments to control Christian schools.2
The legitimacy of the state in fulfilling certain functions in society was recognized by our Lord (Mat.22:15-21), but those legitimate functions have limitations, and certainly don’t include education. The Bible teaches that education is a parental responsibility (see Deut. 4:1-4; 11:18-19, Prov.3:1-2; 4:1-2; 5:1-2; 22:6; 23:26; Eph.6:4). Furthermore, education is clearly a religious issue, because values are the foundational matters of education; these are matters of ultimate concern. If Christians acquiese to the ideology of state prescribed education, including registration, we permit the state to do something it has not been authorized to do in scripture; the state assumes a subversive role: the role of the parent. Why do we think secular educators desperately want control of Christian children? It’s a matter of indoctrinating the children of the state’s enemies with a foreign world and life view.3
The Lord’s people were commanded not to make treaties (or covenants) with unbelievers (Ex.23:32-33), or to be unequally yoked with them (II Cor.6:14-18). This was the critical issue that kept Israel from taking her inheritance, after Joshua’s death (See Judges 2:1-3). Idolatry always leads to servitude. This is why hundreds of homeschooling families have not sought dispensation or registration over the years, even though they were breaking the law in Queensland as a result.
The law requires them to submit their educational process to department control. (Acquiring dispensation from the department to homeschool has been compulsory since the Education Act in Queensland was amended in 1989, but it required that a parent be a qualified teacher, or that they be employing a qualified teacher.) Some, as a result, have been threatened with prosecution.
The assertion that the state is responsible for every child’s education, must be vigorously resisted. We must begin to do what our forebears failed to do in the 1850s, and resist all state intrusions on the parental responsibility for children, including their education. Changes to the education act must recognize that “quality education” begins with the freedom of parents to choose what they want for their children, without intrusion from outsiders.
III. A Proposal for Improvement – the Victorian Model:
Victoria’s Education Act presents a model for improvement for Queensland legislators.
In Part IV, Division 1-General, Section 53, Attendance at school, the Act states that “The parents of every child of school age shall, unless there is a reasonable excuse for the child’s non-attendance, cause such child to attend a State school on every school half- day in each week.”
The Victorian Community Services Act (1970) defines the term “reasonable excuse.”
Section 74C (3) indicates that “it shall be a reasonable excuse as regards any child that-
a. the child is under efficient and regular instruction in some other manner and is complying with the like conditions of attendance as are required under this section with regard to attendance at State schools.”
This piece of legislation does not require homeschooling families to register, or seek approval from the State. As a consequence, homeschooling families in Victoria may choose to register with the department, but are not obligated to do so.
Anna Bligh, when the Minister for Education, indicated that “the Beattie government acknowledges the right of parents to choose the form of education they believe is best for their child.” If this is the case, the Minister must take active steps to ensure that the Education Act is changed, to take into consideration the aspirations of those homeschoolers, who do not want to submit to departmental registration procedures. Only in this way, can education begin to take place, which is truly without State interference.
1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, 1976.
2RousasRushdoony, “The Institutes of Biblical Law,” 1973, p.184
3RousasRushdoony, “The Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.288.
1RousasRushdoony, “The ‘Atheism’ of the Early Church,” 1983, p.15-16.
2 Robert Thoburn, “The Children Trap,”1986, p.96-7
3 Ray Sutton, “Who Owns the Family?” 1986, p.96-7