We home schooled our children from 1992–2004. During those years, home schooling was not yet mainstream. Like many other families worried about running afoul of truancy laws, we paid our yearly dues to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) in order to ensure we’d have access to legal help if we needed it. Their conservative, home-schooling dad lawyers, including Doug Phillips, were regulars on the home school convention speaking circuit. When Phllips left to launch Vision Forum, I understood it to be a related enterprise, but focused solely on a particular theological and social grid toward which they were working to funnel the home school movement: dominionist theological understanding and an aggressively pro-patriarchy family and church structure. He wanted to be free to focus on strengthening the faith and practice home school families in his camp without all the bother of wasting his time on court cases with secular home school families as defendants, which was sometimes the case with the work he did with HSLDA.
Often sharing the platform at home school conventions with HSLDA speakers were various members of the Advanced Training Institute crew, disciples of Bill Gothard. (The ‘19 Kids And Counting‘ Duggars are an ATI family and exemplars of Gothard’s teaching.) This cozy arrangement where the Gothardites got away with presenting themselves as the pinnacle to which the rest of us rank-and-file home schoolers were supposed to aspire made perfect sense, as many of the leaders of the state home school organizations in the states in which we lived during our home school years were ATI families.
The formulas preached by these people were so air-tight. The tribes formed around messages of Phillips and Gothard and others like them were so…well, family-like. For those of us home schoolers trying to navigate doing something still viewed in those days as counter-cultural, there was a great temptation for many home school parents to ally themselves with one of these ready-made
cliques peer groups within the larger home school community. ]Read more]