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Kirk Cameron: Public School System Is ‘Grooming’ Children ‘Towards Sexual Chaos’

“In most places, the public school system has gotten so bad, they’re doing more grooming than they are educating, grooming toward sexual chaos and leftist politics than any real educating toward truth and beauty and goodness.”

I sit down with actor Kirk Cameron, who’s most well-known for his role in the 1980s sitcom “Growing Pains.” He is the executive producer and star of the new documentary “The Homeschool Awakening.”

“History tells us that whoever controls the textbooks, controls the future,” he says.

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Jan Jekielek: Kirk Cameron, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Kirk Cameron: Thank you, sir. Great to be talking with you. I’m an admirer and appreciate you having me on the program.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, so you have this new film, “The Homeschool Awakening,” and it just strikes me as this inspiring and frankly, really interesting smorgasbord board of all sorts of things people that are homeschooling can do with their kids, which I thought was just wonderful because myself I’ve sometimes wonder how do these people do it? For example, I’ve had Sam Sorbo on the show. She has a lot to say about how to do homeschooling the right way.

But then a lot of people think to themselves, “Okay, sure. From Hollywood, got lots of money. These people can make it happen.” I think you’re in the same boat. Can the normal, typical person on the street actually do homeschooling?

Mr. Cameron: Yes. And we did for hundreds of years here in America. Early education was always based in the home. It was a private thing. It certainly wasn’t something that was determined and funded by the government until later. And parents took the responsibility as a sacred duty to shape the hearts and minds of their children.

And they didn’t do it alone. They were doing it in community with other families, and they saw the whole world as their classroom. And so they were learning economics, and all about science, and biology. They were learning about history to help them know how to move into the future.

And there’s been an explosion and a return to these educational principles of parents being in the leadership position—not the federal government. And we’ve seen that when the pandemic put parents in the front row seats to discover what the public school systems have been teaching their children, and many of these parents were not happy.

Mr. Jekielek: Let’s talk about a few of these things. For example, there’s this account on Twitter, Libs of TikTok. It has put up all these videos of public school teachers that are basically saying, “I’ve got control of your kids. I’m going to be telling them what they’re going to believe.” All that kind of stuff. What do you make of that?

Mr. Cameron: Well, we follow one story in our documentary, “The Homeschool Awakening” of a mom whose father was actually politically active. And he was part of passing a bill that would alert parents when explicit material was being taught to their children. And she thought this was a no brainer. Everybody would agree with this.

And during the proceeding, an example of explicit material was read out loud and they stopped the proceeding because it was so explicit, anyone under 18 years old was removed from the room. And then the teachers union representatives scolded the parents saying, “You will not tell us how to teach your children. We’re the experts with the degrees. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Butt out. We’ll make the decisions.” That’s when she discovered that there was a whole other agenda than doing what was best for the kids. And she pulled her children out.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, I remember this was so bizarre because they stopped the proceeding because the parent is apparently reading explicit material, but this is the stuff that’s actually being taught at a school. You can’t write this stuff. Right?

Mr. Cameron: I know. It really is. “The Homeschool Awakening” is not about bashing the public school system. There are good teachers in public school. My father is a public school teacher and my grandparents were public school teachers. But the system by and large is working against those good teachers and families, and undermining the values that we want to pass on to our children.

In most places, public school system has gotten so bad, they’re doing more grooming than they are educating, grooming toward sexual chaos and leftist politics than any real educating toward truth and beauty and goodness.

Mr. Jekielek: And what do you exactly mean by grooming? This has become a contentious word. I mean, obviously it is an inflammatory word. What do you mean by it?

Mr. Cameron: Well, what I mean is that if you look into some of the curriculums, you’ll see that math is not just math anymore. History is not just history anymore. But there are ideologies and worldviews that are being constructed through the math class, through history class that are teaching children to feel guilty about the color of their skin, or to feel like they are victims and have a victim mindset by the color of their skin, or to hate our country, or to hate God, or to hate the Judeo Christian moral standard that has caused families and churches and nations to flourish for thousands of years.

These are the things parents are not happy with, and they’re not taking it anymore. And the parents have led a movement to take back the leadership position in the education of their children to tailor it, not only to the things they want their kids to learn, but the way that their children learn. They want to be hands-on. And that’s the way this country became so strong and so free. And if we want to keep it that way. We can’t outsource education to a federal government that has an entirely different set of values and goals in mind.

Mr. Jekielek: One thing I did want to mention is you did say that you have a relative in the public school system, but you’ve actually described it on camera as public enemy number one, which actually elicited quite a response.

Mr. Cameron: When you drop your kids off at a school or the babysitter, there’s a tremendous amount of trust that you’re putting in these people. And that trust was broken for many parents when they saw what their kids were learning and how their faith and their values and their worldview was being undermined.

And so they’re taking the education back into their own hands. Don’t want their kids just saturated with ideas about race theory or picking out their pronouns, or being told that they can decide whether or not they’re a boy or a girl, or learning to hate their country and think that our history is just saturated with all sorts of bad ideas.

They want them to understand the true history that there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly that America’s problems are universal. And I believe that comes from the problem that’s in every human being’s heart. It’s called selfishness and pride and greed, and we need to resolve those things, but America’s successes are unique.

We have more religious freedom, more political freedom, more economic freedom here than anywhere else in the world. That’s why people love to come to America. That’s why we are so blessed to live here. And we want our children to understand those things.

Mr. Jekielek: You’re just reminding me of this monument, which you mentioned in the film a couple of times. I remember you have a small model of it that kids are looking at. Then later you actually go out and explain it. I think it’s called the Founder’s Monument. I want to talk about that in a sec.

Before we go there, I did want to give you a chance to respond to one of the basically responses to the film, for what I can tell. There’s a MSNBC columnist named Anthea Butler. She wrote, “It may seem harmless, but the insidious racism of the American religious rights obsession with homeschooling speaks volumes.” How do you respond to that?

Mr. Cameron: Well, I laughed to myself when I saw people trying to connect the homeschooling movement with racism and segregation. And that charade doesn’t work with our family because I have a multiracial family. We’ve adopted four of our kids. And so clearly, that’s not in play with me and millions of families around the country.

The idea that the homeschooling movement or that the faithful conservatives of the nation who love God and love the principles of America built on the Bible, thinking that they are anti-education because they’re calling out the immoral nonsense in our public school systems is like thinking they’re anti-human because they hate cancer.

That just doesn’t make any sense. Those who are rotting out the minds and souls of America’s children by teaching them things that are harmful are more defending and spreading a terminal disease than real education. I want my kids to love God, to love their family, to love their country and understand the things that lead to truth, beauty and goodness, and a better world.

Mr. Jekielek: Tell me about this monument to the founders. I had never heard of this until I watched the film, and I just found it really interesting. And also as an educational tool, which is the way you use it.

Mr. Cameron: I discovered that our forefathers and foremothers… Now, before the founders, we have the pilgrims. I discovered that they discovered that the way to have a free and just society was ultimately going to be dependent upon faith and morality, and then teaching those values to our children and our civil laws being grounded in that morality.

And they left for us their secret sauce recipe on how to build a free and just society. And they left it in the form of the largest granite monument in America. It’s 180 tons of granite. It’s sitting on a hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts, hidden in a forest. And hardly anyone knows that it’s there.

I made a whole documentary about it called “Monumental” in which I retraced the escape route of the pilgrims from England to Holland, where they learned these nation building techniques by studying the ancient Hebrew Republic under the leadership of Moses. And they brought those principles over and that formed the template for their community and their documents of Liberty, which ultimately informed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. So the good news is we’re not lost without a roadmap home. If we want to get back to a flourishing society in America with freedom and justice for all, we can just go to Plymouth, Massachusetts. That monument explains it all to us.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s a beautiful monument. And I’m going to make a point of actually going out to visit it, now that I know it exists. Now let’s talk a little bit about some of these, as I mentioned earlier, you’d call them stereotypes about homeschooling. I know there’s a ton of people out there who are doing it, and there has been this incredible surge. Right?

One of the big things is that I keep hearing that I’ve heard many times is, “But wait a sec, can these people actually function in society when they’re somehow isolated? They’re in this homeschooling environment?” That’s one of the most common things I hear.

Mr. Cameron: The common stereotypes and objections to the homeschooling community were things that I had a healthy fear of myself before I actually experienced it. People think like, “Do you have to be a Quaker? Do you have to ride a horse and buggy? Do you need to dress a certain way and churn your own butter? Is that what it’s all about?” And the truth is it’s not that way at all.

You can do that if you want to, sure. You can have chickens in your backyard and you can have organic, free range, scrambled eggs in the morning. But you don’t have to. We follow 17 different families, some of them are in urban settings. Some are in rural settings. Some of these kids are pilots. They fly airplanes.

Some are entrepreneurial families where the whole family is working together. Some are traveling, some are very creative, and into the arts. And homeschooling really embraces the entire world and all experiences, and all generations as your classroom and as your teachers. The older kids are teaching the younger kids. Socialization is healthy.

It’s not segregated by age and ability. You’re not creating a monoculture like is often happening in some school settings, but you’re able to interact with family and families with other families and travel. And you’re not locked into a particular format and schedule.

You’re not being talked at for seven hours. It’s hands-on together, living life I think the way that life is intended to be lived. And there’s no one-size-fits-all way to do it. It’s totally customizable. And you can tailor the educational experience to what fits your family.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, I’m very, very curious as to how you pick the families. I get it a little bit. I think it’s obvious you’re speaking with Chelsea, your wife. And also, I think it’s your sister’s family that’s featured there. Correct? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Mr. Cameron: That’s right.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s contagious, obviously. I don’t know who came first, but how did you pick these families?

Mr. Cameron: Well, we have friends who’ve homeschooled their kids, and they have friends and they have friends. And I often interact with the homeschool community through conferences that I speak at, sharing my story. And so we’ve just met these families over the last couple of years, and we find families who are doing it well. We find families that represent the families who have questions, the ones who are just waiting into this homeschooling world, and they want to know the how-to’s, the in’s and out’s. They want to debunk the stereotypes.

They want to understand, “How can I do this if I’m a single parent? How can I do this if I have a special needs child?” We have some unique giftings in our family. Maybe somebody’s musically inclined. Somebody is excelling academically, and they want to know how to take their kids out of a cookie cutter system and tailor it to really allow their family and their children to flourish. And those are the families that we highlighted.

Mr. Jekielek: No, and I thought it was very interesting. I forget the name of the woman off the top of my head, but there’s a woman who wrote a book in the film about The 8 Ways of Being Smart, I believe. And I thought that was-

Mr. Cameron: “8 Great Smarts.”

Mr. Jekielek: … “8 Great Smarts.” And I thought that was very, very interesting too, because it really is that way. I remember speaking with my wife about, I was always great at multiple choice tests. I could figure things out that I had no idea about. My wife was the opposite. She couldn’t do multiple choice tests whatsoever, and actually it hurt her quite a bit in school. This accounts for some of these sorts of, this kind of diversity.

Mr. Cameron: Yes. In “The Homeschool Awakening” documentary, we interview PhDs like Dr. Kathy Koch, who wrote a book called the “8 Great Smarts.” And the premise of the book is that we often think  certain kids are smart and other kids are not so smart. But we’re really only looking through the lens of academics when we say that much of the time. And she’s pointing out that some people are, they’re picture smart, and they learn visually, other people are logic smart.

Other people are words smart. Other people are body smart, people smart. And we can be and learn to develop these different intelligences and recognize them in our children so that they feel empowered and confident to see life and to operate in the world in the way that God made them. I think it’s inaccurate to say that some kids are smart and some kids aren’t. The question is how did God make you smart? And everyone’s smart in the unique ways that they’ve been designed.

Mr. Jekielek: Yes. It’s not just IQ smart, so to speak that matters—not at all.

Mr. Cameron: That’s right. Absolutely. And we just know that in the real world, there’s some people who are great at taking tests, but they struggle in relationships. There’s some people who are not great at traditional schooling, but they’re brilliant and they end up changing the world. And so it’s all about knowing your kids, spending the time with them to be able to help them to flourish. And parents are in the perfect position to be able to do that.

Mr. Jekielek: You talk a bit in the film about why you and Chelsea decided to do things the way you’ve decided to do them. But walk me through that. Obviously it was a very big step. And I think this film is actually designed to try to help people cross that rubicon.

Mr. Cameron: Chelsea and I have six children, and we sent our kids to a great little private school up until  about sixth grade. After that, we had to move on to another school and we weren’t happy with the options.  We definitely didn’t want to homeschool our kids, that wasn’t even on the table. But when our options were running out, we began to look into it.

And what we found was that there was such a rich, robust community of parents who wanted something more for their children than what they were seeing in the government system. And then we discovered that there are curriculums that cover any topic you could possibly imagine and you would be able to help your kids learn those subjects according to their learning styles and in a way that fit with your teaching styles. And it wasn’t 30 kids with one teacher in a classroom.

It was you and your children. And you were able to incorporate your values into those topics. And once we figured all of that out and learned how to be a family again, we felt like we got our kids back and we began to flourish. And some of our kids did end up going back to a public school in some of the later educational years because of some of the opportunities there.

We believe that we’ve gotten the best of both worlds and it all comes from parents realizing that God gave your children to you as mom and dad, not to the federal government. And you get to decide what is the best way to support, encourage, and educate your kids.

Mr. Jekielek: What does the day in the life look like, just so people can imagine it?

Mr. Cameron: Well, if you watch “The Homeschool Awakening,” you’ll see families doing things very differently. Some are very structured. Some are very spontaneous and free-spirited. There’s kids who are working on farms who live in the city. There’s one young man who is actually a pilot, and he’s 14 years old. Here at our house, I was often making movies. I was often traveling, and my kids could come with me on the set and they could be with me and learn with hands-on experience how to film, how to edit.

And now today, my son is a video editor. It’s really a real world, roll up your sleeves, hands-on workshop where you get to learn together with your children from other families, through curriculums that are built by educational experts with PhDs. And you can do it in a tailor made way that doesn’t undermine your faith and your values. And it doesn’t replace family time. It actually enhances those things.

Mr. Jekielek: And I guess another big question that I hear, and frankly also comes to my mind, there’s some people that are just working to make ends meet, to put that money away for the college education for the kid. Maybe it’s a single mom, that kind of situation. Is this even possible in this kind of situation?

Mr. Cameron: One of the concerns is that people can’t afford to homeschool their kids. Well, actually it’s becoming so much more popular, there’s so many people who are there to help that homeschooling has actually become very, very affordable. And again, you’re not doing this alone.

You have the support of a vast community of millions of families who are doing it successfully. And so I would say, instead of saying, “Well, I can’t afford to do anything but the status quo,” ask yourself, “Can I afford not to look into something that might be better for my kids and really help them to succeed and flourish?” As parents, no one’s going to love them and care for them as much as I do. And I really need to take the lead in discovering where my priorities are and how to find a way to do the things that are important to me.

Mr. Jekielek: Is there a way for people that might be considering this to connect with families in their situation and figure out how they do it, for example?

Mr. Cameron: Yes, there are so many homeschool co-ops and networks. I recently spoke at three homeschool conventions in Texas and in Kentucky. There’s some in basically every state you can go and find resources and people and curriculums that will help you figure out all of the answers to your questions, and discover a way to make schooling work for your family, whatever you decide that to be. Whether that’s private school, public school, or homeschooling,

Mr. Jekielek: Something just struck me. I remember there was a Harvard professor, Elizabeth Bartholet, was arguing against homeschooling. I’m not going to go into the details, but basically believed that the system, so to speak, wouldn’t have as much influence, the right amount of influence on the kids if they’re isolated off with their families.

There is this kind of perspective on how education should be. And as you mentioned, there is an explosion in homeschooling after the pandemic and the school shutdowns and everything; people realizing what was being taught. And also, frankly, just having to deal with homeschooling anyway, because there was no schooling. Right? Because the schools were shut down. Are you expecting some kind of a backlash or something, or are you seeing it right now?

Mr. Cameron: History tells us that whoever controls the textbooks controls the future. The hearts and minds of our children are of paramount importance. World leaders understand that. That’s why the contest for who controls the classroom is fought so contentiously. When parents say, “Listen, we’re not happy with what the government system is teaching. We want to bring that back and have that be home-based, private-based. We want to decide what’s important, like virtue and faith and morality and wisdom.

These things are of primary importance to us.” There’s going to be a battle, but I think it’s been a great wake up call for parents to understand that this is a sacred responsibility. And if we want our values to be passed on, we can’t outsource a parenting. We can’t outsource education. We can’t outsource discipleship to people who have opposing values to our own. If we send our children to Rome to be educated, we shouldn’t be surprised if they come back Romans.

Mr. Jekielek: There’s one young man who really made an impression on me. He says, “In our society, you lose your sense of identity. The greatest gift I was given was my own identity and the ability to do things my way.”

Mr. Cameron: Yes. I agree. Boy, that’s the truth. It’s very difficult when you are in an institutionalized form of education to allow for uniqueness and to allow for individuality. But many families have discovered that you can let those things blossom and flourish. You can actually support and nourish those individualities and uniquenesses when you’re not pressured into a system, when you’re not cramming for certain curriculums just because, and you’re all having to learn in the same way.

You actually learn that you have strengths and uniquenesses that others don’t have [and] that God made you special and brilliant and smart in certain ways. And millions of families are finding that homeschooling is allowing them to really highlight those things, bring them out, feed, and nourish those qualities.

Mr. Jekielek: What about college? That’s the other obvious question. Right? How can someone that doesn’t have an official high school education actually get into college?

Mr. Cameron: These families are actually getting a phenomenal high school education. And they’re not only getting into colleges, they get scholarships, too. And in “The Homeschool Awakening,” we talk to deans of admission and presidents of universities who say, “If the test scores are equal, we prefer homeschooled kids because they have such a well-roundedness about them. Their socialization is exceptional. They’re used to being around and talking to, and working with adults and children.

They haven’t existed in a monoculture of a school that kept them segregated by age, and they’re initiative takers. They’re out of the box thinkers, their adventurers, their pioneer families. And we want more like that.”

Mr. Jekielek: Well, so as we finish up, tell me a little bit about what is your message to families that haven’t taken the leap, but are thinking about it?

Mr. Cameron: I would say if you’re thinking of taking the leap into the world of homeschooling, it’s beautiful outside the box. And take courage, millions of families are doing this successfully and joyfully. Is it hard? Of course, it’s hard. Anything good is hard. We are raising the next generation of human beings. That’s not something that we should outsource. We have lots of help, lots of community. And I would highly recommend that you go for it because there’s so much opportunity, and you can’t afford not to. Your kids are worth it.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, Kirk Cameron, it’s such a pleasure to have you on the show.

Mr. Cameron: Thank you. A pleasure to talk with you, and God bless you.

Mr. Jekielek: And to all of you out there watching, thank you for joining Kirk Cameron and me for this episode of American Thought Leaders. His film again is “The Homeschool Awakening.” I’m your host, Jan Jekielek.

The Epoch Times is growing quickly and we’re currently hiring an associate producer to join the Epoch TV team to work on both American Thought Leaders and Kash’s Corner. It’s a time of rampant misinformation, and propaganda. And you’ll be part of the solution as we bring back honest journalism.

If you’re interested or you know someone who might be a good fit, head over to ept.ms/associateproducer. That’s ept.ms/associateproducer, all one word. We look forward to hearing from you.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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