Caleb Schroeder is a public school teacher and adjunct college professor, and brings his wisdom and insight from his experiences in the public school system to this important interview for the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast.
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In this episode of the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast Yvette Hampton talks with Caleb Schroeder, a homeschool dad who was homeschooled himself. He and his wife Leah, who was also homeschooled, now homeschool their six children in Southern California. While their homeschool educations were relatively unstructured, they both went on to get college degrees (Caleb just finished his second master’s degree). In this interview Caleb talks about the philosophy and aims public schools from his perspective as a long-time teacher in the system.
The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World By Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
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Read the full transcript of this episode: (Automated transcript. Spelling and grammar errors are guaranteed)
Yvette Hampton (00:00):
Welcome to the second part of my interview with Caleb Schroeder. If you missed part one, please go back and listen to the previous episode. Caleb was one of our excellent speakers for the Homegrown Generation Family Expo. Check it out at HomegrownGeneration.com now, enjoy the rest of my conversation with Caleb. I wanted, I want to talk a little bit deeper about what's actually happened happening in the, in the culture of the public school system.
Yvette Hampton (01:07):
you know, I hear we're, we're from California. I'm just like you, which is how we know you. and so, we're, we're removed from it a little bit right now, but we still hear of all the craziness that's happening. And I know it's not just in California that these things are going on. you're on the inside. We often hear it. It almost feels like hearsay. And sometimes to be quite honest with you, I hear about things that are happening in public schools and I think that can't be true. Like that can't actually be happening. Maybe it's happening at one or two schools, but it certainly can't be happening all over the country. And several months ago, I had an old friend from high school, she, she called me and she was considering taking her kids out of public school and she's in Northern California actually.
Yvette Hampton (01:56):
And so she just said, yeah, just talk to me about this homeschool thing. You know, cause I feel like I need to take them out, but I, I don't understand homeschooling and I just don't know. And she, she really didn't know a whole lot of what was happening in her own kid's school, even though she was involved. And so I started doing some research and there were some things that I just found that just appalled me in a million different ways. you know, one of the things I saw was, the state of California of course, you know, you can take a girl at any age to have an abortion and you not only do, you not have to tell her parents, but you're not allowed to tell her parents. You could take a little girl to murder her baby and you're not allowed to tell her parents or you know, kids can come in and they can say, you know, a little boy can come and see him.
Yvette Hampton (02:45):
I think I'm going to be a girl today. And they have to honor that. And they can't tell his parents. And they've completely removed parental authority from everything that they're doing with these kids. And they have become the authority and hear these things. And I read them and I know that they're true. And then I think, but certainly that can't be. Yeah. So how, what is the culture looking like as a, as a public school teacher, what are you faced with day in and day out? And then how have you seen that change over the years? Cause you've been teaching in the public school system for quite some time. I mean, yeah. So for a long time. So you've seen, I'm imagining quite a shift from when you first started teaching to what is happening now. So, so talk to us about it. What's going on?
Caleb Schroeder (03:34):
So, I really don't think I would've survived as long as I have. if I was in, like LA unified school district, I am in Kern County and Kern County is the wild West of California. That's how we like to describe it. So, in the community that I teach in, our biggest claim to fame is we have the Willow Springs race track, which is one of the original, paved serpentine race tracks, or I don't, I don't know exactly what it is, but it's popular. So that employs a lot of people in our community. I don't know if you know NASCAR folk, but they're usually pretty conservative. the next big employer in our community is the air force base. and usually air force personnel are more conservative. So all those laws have gone into effect. So, you know, if a boy decides he's a girl, he needs to be allowed to use the girls restroom locker room.
Caleb Schroeder (04:29):
That's the law that we have to observe. and we have had a couple kids in our, in our school who have decided they want to play that game. and so, it's sort of up to the school for how they're going to, how they're going to deal with it. because I'm in a conservative community, they've, they've dealt with it very cautiously. so we have all of our restrooms locked in. We let one kid in the restroom at a time on, there has to be a security guard at every restroom. and that's a problem, you know, but that's, that's how we deal with it, you know. they have to, in the health classes, the thing having to teach the children, they're required to teach the children. About all of the different genders now and all the different ways that those genders can have sex.
Caleb Schroeder (05:17):
The sex ed piece of, of health has gotten very, very crazy. I mentioned that my daughter is in my public school. and so she's, she's independent study, but she still has to do, you know, the state approved curriculum. And so, this last semester her teacher came to me and she was like, Hey, I can do the health course, the full health course or I could do the health course without the sex ed piece. You can elect to not have sex ed for her health. And I was like, yes, please. You know, and so like in a conservative community, the way we interpret it, we can sort of say, Oh, we didn't get to that. I'm sorry we didn't get to that part of the curriculum. I'm sorry. You what I'm saying? And so there's, there's ways around it. My dad taught for 37 years.
Caleb Schroeder (06:01):
He taught intelligent design in the public high school. his students actually would actually sort of get confused sometimes they'd be like, wait a second, Mr. Schroeder, are you, are you saying that you believe intelligent design or are you saying that you believe in evolution? Cause he wouldn't tell him what he believed in, but he would present both sides of the argument and then the kids would sometimes they'd be like, wait, what side are you arguing for? We don't understand. So eventually one of his students made him two hats and one of 'em says intelligent design. And one of 'em says evolution. So he'd put the hats on when he was arguing from the different views. So the kids would sort of like be able to keep track of what's going on. So my conservative community, we've sort of been protected from that. But what you'll notice, I'm in California right now.
Caleb Schroeder (06:44):
Over 10% of students have left the traditional public school. and they're going to charter schools that don't have to stick to the same crazy curriculum rules that some of the public schools have to stick to. they can have a little more freedom for how they do things. They're going to private schools on their homeschooling. there's a lot of charter homeschools in California now. Our kids are being taught independent, subtle study through charter schools and they have a lot of freedom. So, there's, there's a math mass Exodus, so every year they're losing thousands of students from the public-school system because parents in California are fed up with it. What's interesting is during the Obama era, I don't know, a lot of conservative people realize this. Obama actually was a big proponent of charter schools, but like these public schools are failing our kids.
Caleb Schroeder (07:36):
They need a little bit of competition, a little bit of competition, never heard anybody, which isn't usually what you hear from a liberal. Right. and so, he started, sort of supporting those systems and it was sort of one of the first times that in California, our union didn't have a lot of support from the Democrats. Well, now it's shifted. and so, I don't know if you follow, follow the recent teacher's strike in LA. A lot of that had to do with the massive amount of students that they've lost to charter schools. The public schools are losing funding and the decision they made after that strike was a huge sort of, below two. With the charter schools, the homeschool parents, they're going to start making it harder for parents in California to homeschool. There's been well, uh, how, how they're doing it is through our, uh, through our social care program.
Caleb Schroeder (08:31):
So, they're trying to get legislation passed that if you, have an affidavit. So we tell a friend, you have to file an affidavit if you're homeschooling your children and they're trying to get legislation passed where if you file an affidavit, then you have to be visited by a social worker. In California, social workers have absolute power. So if a social worker comes in and decides you're a bad parent, they can tell any lie they wanted the judge, you had no recompense whatsoever. You can't do anything to get your kids back. One of my, one of my good friends is going through this right now, her son away, they're about to take her other two kids away. They're accusing her of abuse. and there was no abuse at all. and so, and it's just her word against a social worker and a social worker doesn't like her and it's like, it's not normal core situation at all over a period.
Caleb Schroeder (09:23):
So like she can't even like call other moms who've been in these situations and are like this lady's line. She can't even call them to type testify. so, it's getting scary here in California. but what I tell people, the safest place to be is where your shepherd tells you to be. And so right now I know this, this is where I'm supposed to be. I'm supposed to be on the front lines of this. I'm not going to put my kids in the public school. And, and there's ways for me to get around. those bills going through so far, they haven't gone through, but we, this last election, our state got a lot more liberal and they're getting away with a lot of things. but we can't make decisions based on fear. And so, uh, there's there, there's a battle brewing. our enemy recognizes that what we're doing is preventing him from having the minds of our child children and he hates it and he's coming after us and he has a lot of people who are doing, doing his bidding. so that he has a strong foothold in California and it is, uh, it is scary. but I know, I know whom I have believed in. So that's, that's why I have hope.
Yvette Hampton (10:41):
So what can parents do? What can Christian homeschool parents, and Christian public-school parents do to fight this culture war that's going on?
Caleb Schroeder (11:36):
in addition to praying? Of course. Yeah. I would say to, to keep yourself educated, you know, pay, pay your dues with HSL da and like be following them. Be paying attention to the cases that going on in California. and, and be, be praying specifically by name for the different situations involved in the homeschool community. You know, whatever it is, whether it's costal conversations or another one, find a homeschool community so that you're aware when these things are going on. So you can be providing support to the people that surround you. the, uh, and we w what I think, what I'm confident of, I'm a public-school teacher. It's not going to be hard at all for homeschool students to outperform public school students. We do a good job of educating your children and guess who's tomorrow's leaders are going to be.
Caleb Schroeder (12:38):
Yeah, they're going to be our children. And they'll, the liberals are aborting themselves out of existence. And unfortunately, I mean, that's sort of a, maybe a crass way of saying it, but, they're, they, they're not interested in having families and homeschool parents as a rule have really large families. I know several, I have six kids and I know several families. I have more kids than I do. And so as, as we stick to our guns, as we hold onto our children and we educate them and we don't just educate them out of fear, but we recognize that Jesus says, I'm going to build my church and the Gates of hell won't stand against it. And we need to have that attitude in, in this battle for the hearts of our children and for the hearts in our communities. And so, what that means is, we don't, we don't try to homeschool in a bubble.
Caleb Schroeder (13:28):
We homeschool with our why and our doors wide open. And what happens when, when your unsaved neighbors are coming in and they see your kids, they're blown away. They're like, what? This is amazing. What you're doing here is amazing. You know, they see there, they see that they're learning Latin and they see they're reading the classics and they hear them studying with each other and they hear them talking about the books they're reading. They're just like, what? Like my kids, I can't even get them to read a graphic novel, you know? and you know, so, so when, when homeschoolers actually live transparently in their communities, what's going to happen? Where it's going to get out is what if somebody reports me or what if somebody, you know, tells people what I'm doing, what you're doing is good. What you're doing is awesome. And so shine that light, shine light to the people around you. Be inviting people over for meals in your home, have barbecues, do block parties, invite people over and do an amazing job discipling your children and [inaudible] we'll win a generation.
Yvette Hampton (14:34):
Yeah, that's right. And the best way to disciple them is to teach them the word of God. And Ephesians six when they lay down, when they walk, when they stand, when they, you know, throughout the day, always looking for opportunities. You talked about that with your dad and how he would just take you out and he'd just, by his very nature, he introduced you to the nature of God and the creation of our, of, of our Lord. And there are so many opportunities that we have to point our kids to Christ. And when we take advantage of that day in and day out, and when, when we are not sending them off into a system that's teaching them everything that's contrary to the word of God, we have the ability to teach them. And you know, it doesn't mean that they have to know Latin. It's okay if your kids don't know Latin.
Yvette Hampton (15:21):
It's okay if your kids don't reach calculus. It's okay if they're not historians or scientists or whatever, you know, they are going to be who God created them to be. And that's the beauty of homeschooling is we get to, we get to cater to our kids' learning style, to their desires, to how God has created them individually. And they will make a difference in this world. And I love your stance on be hospitable, open up your home to people and they don't have to be just homeschool people. Invite the neighborhood kids over. We had a house that we did that with, several years ago and we, we had a nice backyard and we had one of those big Costco play sets. And so we would invite all of the neighborhood kids to come over to our house. And it was so much fun. And I remember one summer we took, it was like 12 neighborhood kids to VBS at our church that year and they were so excited.
Yvette Hampton (16:14):
And then we moved to another neighborhood and we did the same with those kids and we brought those kids to church with us and they're still going. As matter of fact, when we went back to California, well guess it's about a year and a half ago now. we, we went back to our home church and the neighborhood kids who would go every week when we were there, they were still going. And it was so exciting. And these are kids who come from a very broken home, but grandma would take them and she was there and we were so excited to see them there. And we thought, this is it. You know, this is the purpose of coming alongside of our neighbors and love your neighbor as yourself. And what a great opportunity we have to be able to do that as homeschool families.
Caleb Schroeder (16:54):
Let me tell you about one like that that reminded me of just this amazing opportunity we have and California right now. So because our state is liberal, they require schools to allow any club to have a presence on campus. so that includes child evangelism fellowship in our community in California right now, we can't keep up with the requests from local principals for us to have a good news club on their campus. where if we, we just need more people who will help staff those and the primary people who are staffing. Those are until families, you know, they're the teenagers from some of these homeschool families that the good news club is usually at the end of the school day. So it's like two 30. So a lot of working professionals can do that. But the homeschool moms and their kids, they can go do that.
Caleb Schroeder (17:42):
So, I don't know if any of your listeners are familiar with their local CEF, but CF loves homeschool families and you get to bring your kids on the public-school campus and be salt and light right there with you and what you're doing. You're sharing missionary stories, you're sharing Bible stories. I don't know if you're familiar with CF, but it's, it's one of the largest missions of organizations in the world. And that's, that's really how, how missions is done in America. It's true. We call it backdoor evangelism, the children. And then through the children you reach the parents and, and there's, there's, the harvest is right there is the workers are few. And so there's so many opportunities in California to be on those campuses and to be doing, to be doing outreach. You don't have to send your kids to public school to send your kids to public school. You have a presence right there and do amazing things with your children in your, in your local community through CES starting. Encourage your listeners to look up their local CF chapter and try to help them
Yvette Hampton (18:47):
or too young life. Cause I'm familiar with young life. Yeah.
Caleb Schroeder (18:50):
Young life is usually sort of like junior high, high school age. And then there's also my, my high school actually has a campus life program, which is another one. But CF is for elementary school age kids junior high. But yeah, it's, it's sort of the first one that was ever started. It's been around for a long, long time. Have you ever seen like the wordless book? That's a CF thing.
Yvette Hampton (19:12):
Okay. Yes. Okay. Okay. Yeah, I'll, I'll link back to those in the show notes. I just did an interview recently with Elizabeth Johnston, the activist mommy, I don't know if you're familiar with her, but we were talking about the impact that we can have on, abortion clinics, and, and pro-life centers. And you know, as homeschoolers, we have such a great advantage because we have, we have time and I know that there are homeschool moms who are rolling their eyes at me going, I don't have time. I don't have extra time to do anything because I've got my kids with me all day. Yeah. There's time for ministry when God calls you to it, you know, pray and ask God, what are you calling our family to pray with your kids, get on your knees, pray and ask God to show you and your kids what ministry you can be involved in.
Yvette Hampton (19:57):
And he will give you the time to be involved in those ministries because he does that. He, he, he wants us to serve in his world. And I think as Christians, so often we get into our little bubble of church and homeschooling and, and we forget that there's another world out there who desperately needs to hear about Christ. And you know, I've really, I've been thinking a whole lot lately about, just those who are in, in leadership in our country, who are making all these horrific decisions and taking the lives of innocent children and, and telling lies to these kids who are so confused about, you know, their gender identity and this and that. And, and it starts with our, it starts with our leadership there. The, we need to be praying for those people. And, you know, I mean, obviously my heartbreaks in a million different pieces for those babies who are being, whose lives are being torn out of their mommy's wombs.
Yvette Hampton (20:56):
I just, I, I can't even wrap my mind around it and how we as a nation are saying that this is okay. but I, I just again read, uh, one of my favorite books is the hiding place by Corrie 10 boom. for those of you who have not read it, I please read it. I, I think, I mean, you know, if I was stranded on a desert Island and I could only take three books with me, it would be the Bible, the hiding place, and the little house on the Prairie series that counts as one book to me. but I love the hiding place. And one of the things I love about that book is that, Betsy, who's Corrie 10 boom's sister and their father, Casper 10, boom, they are so passionate about praying for those who are torturing and executing, you know, all of the innocent people and their hearts break for them.
Yvette Hampton (21:44):
And, and they're, you know, a couple of circumstances where, you know, Betsy will just say, Oh, I feel so sorry for them when someone's being tortured. And Cory saying, you know, she's thinking, she's talking about the person that being tortured and she's not talking about that person though she feels sorry for them too. She's talking about the person torturing because they need Jesus. And if we're going to say that we care about human life, care about those people who are literally heading straight to hell and, and they need Jesus, they need him desperately. And so, you know, as homeschool families, we need to just be praying and asking the Lord, where would you have us to serve? Where would you have us to spread your truth and spread your gospel to every end of the earth? We don't have to go to Uganda to be on the mission field.
Yvette Hampton (22:34):
I love that you talk about, you know, you felt like God called you to missions that you are on the mission field. Caleb, you are on the front lines. You are witnessing to these kids, witnessing to teachers. You are showing by your very life that you have Jesus. And so, and I know you're making a difference. I've known people, you talked about Christian earlier. you know, I know people who you've had a great impact in their lives because you have taken a stand for what truth is and use the platform that God has given you to be able to do that. So, um,
Caleb Schroeder (23:04):
I think one of the, one of the big ways that we can reach out and make a difference, especially with the abortion issue, is finding ways to support single moms. Just, just finding the local networks to be going there and doing classes for them. Do everything you can to give them support and to not make them feel like there's nobody there for them. That's really where that bottom battle's going to be. One, the way that we wage war in our culture is by loving the center. That's what I saw Jesus doing. And that's how he changed the communities that he was preaching the gospel amendments to us by loving the centers. And so we go and we love, we love those centers. Well, we pray for those people who are making the decisions. We go on the marches, you know, as a kid, I was out there with my sign, you know, at our local hospital when they're trying to have an abortion here and we got 'em out of here, you know.
Caleb Schroeder (24:04):
and so, like you do those things, and you're teaching your children as you do that. And you're raising up a new generation of people who are going to be engaged in the culture. Right. And it's important to distinguish between being engaged in the culture and being at war with the culture. We're at war with sin. We hate sin, but we love the people. And that's really where, that's where the 10 booms got it. Right. They were praying with people, they hated their sin, but they, but they loved those people. Well, and even just praying to God to give you that love and said, the Holy spirit is shed abroad his love in our hearts. And so we have that love for those people. And when we act out of that, when we pray out of that, that's what's going to change this world. And that's what's going to teach our children. Wow.
Yvette Hampton (24:48):
Yeah. And, and it's, it's when we realize what we've been saved from and we're still sinful to, you know, we're just as sinful as the next person. but we, I was just talking about this with my girls the other day saying there's a difference between being a sinner and living in sin. And we are all sinners desperately in need of a savior. and once we realized what we've been saved from, we will, we will have such an earnestness to go out and share that with other people. You know, when you eat a dessert that is so unbelievably delicious and you bring your friends all around you, you want to say, Oh, you've got to try this dessert. It's so good. It's the best chocolate cake I've ever had. Or, or you know, whatever cheesecake, you know, you, you're excited and eager to share that with them.
Yvette Hampton (25:40):
And we need to be that way with the gospel. We need to, to just cry out to the Lord, to give us the boldness to share Christ with those who, who desperately need him because we are sinful too. Jesus died for us. He died for them. I love that you talk about single moms and reaching out to them. We actually interviewed Mary Jo Tate for the movie and she was a single mom and, and we asked her, you know, what is the one thing that, that single moms need? And she said they need other people to come alongside of them and help them. And if that means coming alongside of a single mom and saying, I know that you're not comfortable having your child in public school, but I know you have to work to provide for your children. Let me take some of the burden off of you and let me homeschool them.
Yvette Hampton (26:24):
There's no better way to love. I mean, that is amazing. And I know of parents who are doing that. we stayed with it, really neat family in Tennessee, and, and Franklin and they have a farm and they just have a really good friend, a really good family friend who is a single mom, just a really neat lady. and this has just kind of taken this mom and her son under their wing and they're part of their family now and she helps to homeschool their son and, and you know, we get so comfortable in her little like, okay, it's going to, it's going to disrupt our homeschool day. If we bring on another child. It's okay. It's okay to disrupt your homeschool date just a little bit if that's what God's calling you to do. and so yeah, step out, do something John says, get off the bench.
Caleb Schroeder (27:13):
You know, my wife and she's, she's pretty awesome, but what are things she's taught me is, just go with it. You know, like a lot of times we're so overwhelmed at the uncertainty of tomorrow we'll love what if I start having people in my home or whatever. I started going doing these ministries. Really it's messy, you know, but be build, be willing to have maybe a little more of a messy lifestyle, you know? like Rosaria Butterfield, I really highly recommend her book, but she just talks about these single moms from her neighborhood or just coming over to her house in the evening and all the laundry is on the table. So what do they do? They start, well, no, she says they just put it back in the dryer for her to do right. Or you know, they help her with the dishes or they help her get dinner on the table.
Caleb Schroeder (27:53):
And so they're just doing life together. If you've ever read any of Edith shepherd shapers writings, that's the way she would do her. And Francis Shaffer just they did life together. And so that's, that's how Christians are going to win this generation. One of the things I find about millennials, they love and they're desperate for community. They want connection there. They're one of the least connected generations because of social media and because of all these issues, but they're desperate for that and like having them into your home, it goes so far to communicate the lower price. Let me just give a little bit of encouragement to your listeners. I personally am a very task oriented person. I'm sort of a go getter and I always have things that I'm doing and things that I'm pursuing, and God's really taught me to slow down and be present with my children.
Caleb Schroeder (28:45):
I think that's extremely important, especially for homeschool dads. And moms are there all day. They're going to be with their kids. one of the, one of the little things I did that it might seem, it might seem minuscule, but it's made a huge difference for me. I put an overstuffed chair in my son's bedroom and so when I go in to pray with them at night, I sit in the chair. That makes just a huge difference for me because I'm instead of like, okay, the task is pray and then, and then leave. I sit down and I just, I can sort of relax while I just listened to them and I just give them my year and I give them my face and I let them tell me about their day and I'll ask, let them ask me the million questions. At nine year old boys have, you know, anything from science to the Avengers, you know, they wanted to come before bedtime. Exactly. The bedtime turns them into, you know, philosophers.
Caleb Schroeder (29:37):
But just to be present with my, with my daughters, I pursue their hearts. I take them out on dates for, Sophie just had her 14th birthday and I took her to this local place, the Odyssey. I don't know if you've been at Odyssey, it's beautiful down in Granada Hills. And then we went to the Pantages and we saw Wicked on the, on the stage, you know, off-Broadway and it's just, it was a special time for me to let her know I love you and I'm sure to protect your heart, you know, as you, as you go on into the culture and just taking that time to slow down, to be present with your family. We love reading. we are constantly reading for the month of January we went completely off screens and we just read, and it was such a blessing. I would come home and all my kids would be like sprawled out on the couch, all reading different books.
Caleb Schroeder (30:24):
the weaker readers, we use audible and they're listening and, and that's just, those are treasured times to just grow together. So just I challenge your listeners, you know, be, be active in the culture, but understand that's something you do as a family and you can present with your children while you're doing that. I love what you guys are doing. Just taking your girls along with you. You know, this is our adventure. This is our family and venture. We're doing it together. That's how God designed the family to work, is to increase our ministry, not decreasing.
Yvette Hampton (30:51):
That's right. And it's not always easy and it's not always fun. but it is always a blessing to be where God has called you to be and to be doing what he's called you to be doing. He brings blessings and obedience, so for sure. I love that. Well, thank you Caleb. You are a huge, huge blessing to us. thank you for what you're doing in the public-school system. Thank you for being on those front lines and making a difference in the lives of these kids who desperately need to hear truth and love for sharing that. So anyway, have an awesome rest of your day. Thanks for your time. I had mentioned this at the beginning of the podcast, but we have a great interview with Caleb that we did for the movie and there's a pretty good portion of it on, I think it's on the Backstage Pass membership site, but you can actually see it for free. so we will put a link to that in the show notes. You can click on that if you haven't seen it yet. So, so thank you guys. Have a great rest of your day and we will see you next week.