Contributors: Shannon Kingsbury, Tim Lambert, Kay Orr
Teaching good citizenship to your homeschool student is more than educating them on political process and American traditions. To foster an enduring sense of ownership over country, state and community, it’s important to develop character qualities and the mindset of a good citizen.
The Texas Legislature is so convinced of the benefit of teaching our youth to be good citizens that it made a course in citizenship a requirement in every school, including homeschool. THSC members can take advantage of our free homeschool government curriculum for older students. But this is one subject that can be taught at an early age—even preschool—by simply celebrating federal holidays in your home and community.
Why Is It Important To Be a Good Citizen?
It has been said that what makes a good Christian makes a good citizen. At its core, good citizenship is loving our neighbor as we love ourselves and being good and grateful stewards of our homes, communities, towns and cities, states, country and planet.
There’s a lot to that, but the courts have simplified it for educators to mean a study of civics or government.
This generation we’re homeschooling now is not intimately familiar with many challenges to our freedoms and American way of life. However, as Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation. …”
We must be vigilant for threats to our citizenry from within and without, and be ready to respond in legal, civil, organized and peaceful ways to protect human rights and God-given rights. Essential to defending both of these is education in the political process.
Homeschoolers who lived through the 1980s know that, in Texas, we haven’t always had the freedom to homeschool without government interference. A Texas attorney general once said that he did not believe parents were qualified to raise their children—much less teach them at home. (He obviously hadn’t met Dr. Helen Jackson.)
Texas homeschool parents fought a spiritual, political and legal battle to force the state to recognize our rights as parents.
Still today, there are many who don’t believe that parents should educate their children at home, and every time the Texas Legislature goes into session, our freedom to do so could be placed on the “chopping block.” This is why we send THSC Watchmen to stand guard by pouring through thousands of pages of bills each session and to quickly mobilize an opposition to legislation that jeopardizes our freedom. Homeschoolers have become recognized as a group of activists who are dedicated to electing those who support their rights and freedoms, and elected officials pay attention to our collective voice.
Proposed legislation at the local, state and national levels directly affect our family freedom to direct the upbringing and education of our children. Will the generation of the future be ready to combat this?
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Texas Homeschool Requirements
The Texas Education Code (25.086) allows a student who attends a private school which teaches a study of good citizenship to be exempt from the compulsory attendance law. Since homeschools are considered private schools in Texas, if you teach good citizenship in your homeschool (and meet the other requirements), you are exempt from compulsory attendance laws.
The requirements for homeschooling in Texas are:
- The instruction must be bona fide (i.e., not a sham).
- The curriculum must be in visual form (e.g., books, workbooks, video monitor).
- The curriculum must include the five basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship.
Learning Good Citizenship: Older Homeschool Students
Looking for good citizenship lesson plans? If you join THSC, you can download the THSC “Lone Star Study” guide. Using this to teach your students will fulfill the good citizenship requirement in Texas state law!
Is your student 16 or older? Consider becoming a THSC PAC volunteer—the THSC Political Action Committee (PAC) Team exposes corrupt judges, acts as a watchdog against questionable politicians, and creates homeschool legal policy. This can count toward high school credit and would look fantastic on a resume!
Join The THSC Rangers
The THSC Rangers Program is dedicated to educating and engaging students in the process of local government and to advancing and defending freedom for Texas families. A THSC Rangers Club is provided with good citizenship worksheets in the form of lesson plans in the “THSC Rangers Leaders Manual” and “Lone Star Study.”
In addition to in-class worksheets, THSC Rangers are required to complete two club projects a semester, which include (but are not limited to):
- Volunteering with a THSC-endorsed campaign
- Interviewing candidates in a club’s local area
- Working on voter registration drives and campaigns
- Drafting and presenting a research paper on a specific topic.
Students will learn about civics, being a good citizen, and the important role they play in politics!
The THSC Rangers Program comes as a free benefit to THSC Partner Groups. For clubs not part of a THSC Partner Group, student registration is $25 per family per semester for THSC members and $35 per family for non-members.
Join the THSC Good Citizenship Program
This program was created by THSC to recognize homeschool students who participate in good citizenship activities.
Earn credits and awards while helping your community through civics!
THSC Good Citizenship Awards:
- Alamo Award
- New voters can be registered most easily when an adult becomes a deputy voter registrar. The parent or support group member can then work with home school students as a deputy voter registrar to take voter registration cards to people, who then fill them in and return them to the deputy voter registrar. These completed cards will then be delivered by the deputy voter registrar to the voter registrar of the county.
- Homeschool students can use support group meetings, church meetings, and other gatherings to register new voters. Deputy voter registrars will be responsible for documenting the number of hours completed by homeschool students in this area for credit toward the THSC Good Citizenship Certificate. In addition, THSC will award the Alamo Good Citizenship Award to the student who registers the most new voters in Texas for each year.
- Ranger Award
Credit for the Good Citizenship Certificate may also be earned by volunteer work in the campaign process of candidates for public office. Any local, state or federal campaign qualifies for this effort. Campaign officials are responsible for documenting the number of hours completed by homeschool students in this area for credit toward the THSC Good Citizenship Certificate. In addition, THSC will award the Ranger Good Citizenship Award to the student with the most hours of volunteer work in political campaigns.
- Lone Star Award
Homeschool students may earn credit for good citizenship in the political party process by volunteering to help at precinct, county, senatorial or state conventions or at other political party functions of their chosen political party. Political party officers are responsible for documenting the number of hours completed by homeschool students in this area for credit toward the THSC Good Citizenship Certificate. In addition, THSC will award the Lone Star Good Citizenship Award to the homschool student with the most hours in the category of the political party process in Texas.
- Republic Award
Credit for this certificate may also be earned by students who are involved in the legislative process at any local, state, or federal level. Time spent working for or against any particular political issue qualifies. Parents or leaders of any group working on such issues are responsible for documenting the number of hours completed by homeschool students in this area for credit toward the THSC Good Citizenship Certificate. In addition, THSC will award the Republic Good Citizenship Award to the homeschool student with the most hours each year in the category of the legislative process.
Earn a Congressional Award
Aim even higher than Texas recognition with a multi-year, multi-faceted, documented effort toward living good citizenship. The Congressional Award is open to all youth ages 14-23, no matter one’s GPA or special needs. Participants must be willing to better themselves and the communities they live in. Some extracurricular activities that your students are involved in may already apply toward an award!
Congress established the Congressional Award in 1979 to recognize initiative, achievement and service in young people. The award of gold, silver or bronze is based on goals that participants set and achieve, and it is through fulfilling their goals that participants become better citizens and benefit their communities.
Why not start by helping THSC in Keeping Texas Families Free to homeschool? At THSC, we believe that parents should be empowered to raise the next generation of leaders and that the best place for children is in a home with loving parents. Join THSC today!