One-Income, Homeschooling, and Economics

I recently had a heated discussion, as always happens when homeschooling is brought up. There are a great many scriptural points that can be made as to why Christian education is mandatory, but that is not the point I will be making today. Many articles and blogs have been written on that subject and I simply want to address what I have experienced in the American Evangelical Church.

A man of high position within a local church recently told me that homeschooling is just too difficult for anyone with more than three kids. In fact, he called people who believe that homeschooling is a Christian requirement “hot-headed fools” and “naive idealists.” This man holds an office in the PCA Church. His position about homeschoolers is nothing new to me, this same rhetoric exists in many, if not most, churches. Homeschoolers are often viewed as troublemakers; at least the ones who actually believe what they are doing is a calling from God for every family, not merely just another opinion.

Today, I want to focus on economics. I once attended a church that held a backpack fundraiser for public school children. No, not Christian children, just the children that attended the public schools. I have nothing against such fundraisers, but as I attended this church it dawned on me that no such effort had ever been made for Christian Homeschoolers in the same church. No effort to ask the families of the church if they needed aid for their children. Scripture is quite clear about who takes precedence when it comes to charitable giving: Christians have the prerogative (Phil 2:4, Galatians 6:2, Gal 6:10) over the unbeliever.

How this had been overlooked was beyond me. In a meeting with the session, I brought up this discrepancy which garnered little to no response. Now keep in mind, economically, public school families almost always earn a double income. Both the mother and the father contribute to food, shelter, taxes, clothing, as well as savings, investment, and retirement. To say that public school children need more help from the Christian community is just not fair, especially when there are many families in most churches that homeschool.

These homeschool families are, economically, some of the most disadvantaged families in our communities. How so? Quite simple. Almost all of these families operate on a single income. The mother, is most often the caretaker for the home and the children. She has little time to make additional income and if she does it is a small portion here and there. It is also done at the expense of her additional energies. Instead of relaxing after a hard days work with the kids, she might have to work two more hours in the evening cleaning a house. Don’t get me wrong, my wife (who homeschools our children) also works in her spare time to clean two additional houses. Those two houses are great supplemental income, but it won't pay the rent nor the electric bill. That supplemental income usually pads the grocery and gas bill. For that I am thankful.

I also work a side job to supplement my income. Instead of having my weekends off, I opt to work on Saturdays at a family store. Once again, this won’t pay the rent or the electric bill it does help with gas and groceries. A homeschool family, to make it work at a blue collar level, requires six days of solid work; at times interchanging the kids between each parent to free up the other to quickly get out of the house and pull in that extra $100 for another grocery run.

Now keep in mind the family that public schools does not have to double pay for their education, as the homeschoolers do. Homeschoolers double pay for their own education because they have to pay property tax first for the public school kids, then they have to pay for their own education. After that the homeschool family now has to feed their children, cloth them, and house them. All on one income. Not to mention going out and having fun as a family, which for us almost always means a trip to the park because we can’t afford anything but free. Add to that that the homeschooling family now has to also save money for if the air conditioning goes out or the car breaks down. On one income. Investments? One income. Saving for the retirement of two people? One income. Everything a two-income family can maintain easily if they are fiscally smart, requires the one-income family to do likewise with half the income.

A word of caution to the Christian Church of America. What is your local church doing to aid those who make half the income of most other families while also maintaining the convictions of Christian education? Is your church helping? If so, Praise God. But if not, what are we telling our brothers and sisters in Christ who homeschool while we raise funds for those who have two incomes? What are we telling our brothers and sisters when they have to not only pay for public schooling but also their own? Yes, the Christian homeschooling family wishes to be independent and the man wants to provide for his family. As he should. But next time we think about helping the pagans in the humanist schools, let us first ask ourselves: “What have I done for that one income family in my own church?"


Carey Appling

Carey is 32, married for 12 years to his beautiful wife Sara and has 3 children. He is also an Abolitionist out of Houston, Tx.