How far back does one need go into the past to paint an accurate historical picture? In the case of home education, it is safe to say that it predates schools, but modern home education, as we now know it, got its initial start in Alberta in the late 1970’s, mostly because private schools were too expensive or simply unavailable during a time of increased secularization of public schools.
The 1980’s saw some growth in numbers. However, home education really got popular and more accepted when funding was made available in the early 1990’s.
My wife, Faye, and I were among the earliest home educators in the late 1980’s. This was a critical decision for us since I was teaching in a public high school. I was, in essence, voting against the very agency through which I was earning a living!
In any event, we had determined to teach our own children as we could not find a school that would do the task with the dedication of loving parents. And it was a serious commitment as there was no funding available, at least not that we were aware of.
As funding became available, agencies specializing in the delivery of home education programs began to emerge in the home education community. They were either schools or worked through an authority vested in them by registered schools, but either way, this transformed the home education community into being another educational industry.
My first experiences with this new industry were very enlightening. I observed that very few of these “experts” in home education had much of an idea of what education, home education in particular, really was.
There certainly weren’t many of these experts who had had the extensive experience that I had, and even fewer who were giving serious thought to the fact that home education and schooling were different.
The second, and most disheartening thing I observed, was that most of the home education providers, while masquerading as experts, were actually intent on cashing in on the home education money, rather than helping the people who were lined up to take advantage of that funding.
Most everything that was being offered as help was nothing more than marketing ploys preying on the ignorance and greed of the people, something that was sure to compromise the home education community over time.
I got to the point where I was as frustrated with the home education industry as I was with the public school industry, in which I was employed.
I did not want to be part of the problem that was growing within the home education community, where the competition for students (read: cash) was becoming so commonplace as to be an embarrassment to the Christian faith.
In the spring of 1999, several very questionable moves by the “home education provider” through which I did part time work as a facilitator, led my wife and I to seriously consider the need for an agency that would be focused on truly ministering to parents while balancing their desire for financial assistance, in that order.
I really believed the home education community needed a place to escape from the nonsense that was starting to infect it. This was the thinking that led to the creation of Education Unlimited. It started as a ministry within an increasingly cash driven industry.
I informed the families with which I had had the privilege of working, that I would be continuing on my own (and without actually saying so, that I could no longer, in good conscience, work for a mercenary organization that consistently reminded its employees that it was a business first and a ministry second).
So, after having completed my duties for the business I was working for, I set out to find a school that saw students as having more than a monetary value.
I was not surprised to find that there were very few schools that even cared, much less were interested in home education, at that time. This was a sad testimony, since we approached only private Christian schools.
We finally were able to convince a school principal that our vision and mission to serve the home education community was worth supporting. So in July of 1999, we had the good fortune of connecting with the dedicated folks at a Christian school who agreed to “loan us their authority” so we could proceed with our plans.
Thus in August of 1999, Education Unlimited was born with my wife, Faye, and I as the entire organization, from director, to IT manager, facilitator, administrator, secretary, receptionist and book keeper!
From the beginning we did everything we could to help and support our school, our parents, our students and then, after everyone else was taken care of, we paid ourselves. In this regard, things have not changed, continuing as we always have!!!
As a consequence of our focus on ministry, we did not engage in marketing ploys to increase our numbers as we so often saw with what were now our competitors.
We conducted our business affairs with the highest level of integrity while putting all of our efforts into advancing and defending home education, including: exposing the unhealthy focus on money and the consequences of its unethical use; the normalization of school-based thinking; and the general absence of genuine faith in the God of creation.