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Bigger than Campaign Promises: Homeschooling, Tax Credits, and Politics in Virginia

VaHomeschoolers’ Position on Partisan Politics and Non-Homeschooling Issues

Since its founding in 1993, VaHomeschoolers has been an inclusive, statewide homeschooling organization.  Vital to our mission to serve all Virginia homeschoolers, regardless of religion, political affiliation, homeschooling style, economic status, family structure, etc., is our unwavering commitment to avoid any and all involvement in partisan politics and any political or social issues. VaHomeschoolers only lobbies and advocates on topics, questions, issues and proposals that are directly related to homeschooling and to protecting the freedom of Virginia families to choose home education for their children.

This commitment to avoiding partisan politics and non-homeschooling issues is absolutely central to our ability to serve all homeschoolers, and is reflected in our Bylaws and Constitution, which state that we will take “no position on religion, partisan politics and non-homeschooling issues…”

Some other homeschooling organizations, at the local, state and national level, do involve themselves in political campaigns and in non-homeschooling issues. VaHomeschoolers was founded out of the recognition that such organizations could not serve all homeschoolers, because homeschoolers have a wide variety of viewpoints and convictions on political, religious and social issues – on every issue other than homeschooling, in fact.

VaHomeschoolers’ Neutrality on Homeschool Tax Credits

Because our legislative positions on topics that are specifically related to homeschooling are guided by our annual member survey, VaHomeschoolers also takes a neutral position on the issue of public funding of homeschooling via tax credits, tax exemptions, or any other financial vehicle. Our members have clearly indicated to us that they are deeply divided on this topic, for a variety of reasons. One argument offered by homeschoolers who favor tax credits is that, since the choice to homeschool directly reduces the financial burden on the local public school system and increases the financial burden on the homeschooling family, it is fair to share some portion of the local tax fund to support those children who are educated at home.  On the other hand, homeschoolers who oppose tax credits argue (among other perspectives) that any proposal that would provide homeschooling families with public funds ultimately will also likely expose families’ choices of home education programs, materials and curricula to public scrutiny and regulation.

VaHomeschoolers cannot take a position that serves all homeschoolers when homeschoolers hold strong opinions both for and against homeschool tax credits. (Should our survey results indicate a shift toward broad agreement, our legislative position would then be clear.) Read more about the arguments for and against tax credits.

 

Homeschooling Stereotypes Can Harm Homeschooling

VaHomeschoolers believes that association by homeschooling organizations with partisan politics and non-homeschooling issues harms homeschooling.  Such association and advocacy can create and reinforce stereotypes of homeschoolers as having only a limited range of social and political viewpoints. When these stereotypes are reinforced, people hear “homeschooler” and presume they know “all homeschoolers’ positions” on a checklist of political, legislative, and religious positions, when, in fact, homeschoolers are not monolithic.

Homeschooling stereotypes can lead to misunderstanding of and even antipathy towards homeschoolers among legislators, political candidates, public education leaders, the media, and the general public.

Homeschooling stereotypes can deepen the divide between the homeschooling community and Virginia’s public school leaders and advocates – a divide that need not exist, since many homeschoolers support public schools and have friendships and community ties with families who choose public school – in fact, many homeschoolers do choose public school at some time during their children’s educational paths.

Homeschooling stereotypes can undermine legislation aimed at helping homeschoolers, and can even lead families who might be considering homeschooling to disregard the option because they believe they might not “fit in” with and find support from homeschoolers in their area.

Revised October 2017

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The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a non-profit public charity with 501(c)(3) status; your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. A financial statement is available from the Virginia Division of Consumer Affairs upon request.


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