Thursday, March 13, 2008

Apparently, We're All Stupid

Talking about Home Schooling must have hit some nerves because I had the most e-mail feedback I’ve gotten since writing these letters.

Last week I linked to a newspaper article concerning home-schooling and added a quote from the decision that I thought was a little scary. Over the weekend, I was able to read an article in Time Magazine and listen to a radio broadcast from Focus on the Family that discussed the California Appellate ruling. It definitely got me a little furious.

The two most common stereotypes that I hear about home-schooling are that the children are getting an inferior education and that the parents have suffocating religious beliefs. Do children who are home-schooled perform worse than their public school peers? Show me that data! Conjecture is insufficient. I found some data that overwhelmingly shows home-schooling offers superior performance, but I have yet to verify the numbers so I will bring it up at another time. Should we as a society determine which faiths and belief systems to suppress because they aren’t mainstream? If so, please explain to me why freedom of religion has been a failure.

This state appellate court effectively banned home-schooling in California and declared that there exists no constitutional right to home-schooling, which reversed the lower court’s decision upholding that right. The full decision can be found here.

Interestingly enough, the Supreme Court of Michigan in 1993 found in regards to another case also involving a claim that a parent’s religious beliefs allowed them to home school:

the teacher certification requirement is an unconstitutional violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment…”

“When rights under the Free Exercise Clause are combined with the constitutionally protected right of parents to direct the education of their children,…”

It seems that the Supreme Court of Michigan had a radically different viewpoint than California’s appellate court.

Traditionally, when a court is considering a case where constitutional rights are in the balance they allow other interested parties to submit arguments (called an Amicus curiae) on behalf of one side or the other so that the case does not rest solely on the limited abilities of the lawyers involved. However, this case involved child welfare, so no one was allowed to know that the case was going to be heard. So, in a secret hearing the court decided to strip Californians of what was previously described as a constitutional right. To me, this is rather egregious.

I have told people before that I have no intention of owning a gun until it becomes illegal. By the same logic, my belief in the virtue of home schooling has increased dramatically after this court’s attempt to take away the right to do so given their pernicious reasoning.

Quotes from the ruling:

“A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.” P.5.

Is home schooling a threat to citizenship? Are these subversive radicals?

“…teachers shall be of good moral character and patriotic disposition, that certain studies plainly essential to good citizenship must be taught, and that nothing be taught which is manifestly inimical to the public welfare.’" P. 5

In this age of moral relativism who decides “good moral character”? Is that traditional morals or PC morals?

“[h]ome education, regardless of its worth, is not the legal equivalent of attendance in school in the absence of instruction by qualified private tutors.” P. 9

Regardless of its worth? If this court does not believe that the law needs to be enforced for the sake of quality education, what else could be their motivation? This court believes that consolidating the power to educate into the singular hand of the state is unto itself a desirable end. They do not care whether parents can teach their children adequately. Their sole concern is to ensure that the orthodoxy of the state does not face competition.

It is clear that they are afraid. They are afraid of you and me. They are afraid that if individuals are allowed to teach their own children that this will lessen our good citizenship, lessen our patriotism, and lessen our loyalty to the state. This sort of thinking should be a relic of the past.

For Texas, I am proposing a state constitutional amendment that guarantees the right of parents to determine the education of their child. My first draft of the amendment is this:

All legal guardians of minor children in the State of Texas have the right to determine the venue of education for their child, including their own home or property. Furthermore, the state may not limit the person or persons that provide education to the children of legal guardians, unless this educator has been convicted of significant criminal offense.

Note that the Texas constitution already has over 400 amendments, so this isn’t as dramatic as amending the US constitution.

As always, let me know what you think.


Dana said...

Yes, we are subversive radicals and a danger to American society...all because we are uncertified! Wait, so are private school teachers. And at least 34% of teachers hired in NYC alone.

Just wait until we have universal preschool...then it becomes compulsory. Then we are fighting the state in order to keep our three year olds home.

Brian Shelley said...

"Just wait..."

Don't wait, just act.

Dana said...

I am...but appear to be losing on that front. An amendment went through last election to begin setting aside money for a program that looks like it could evolve into universal preschool.

There is a bill being pushed through right now that will take local control of our education system away, too...the last state in the union to have something like it (our schools are funded mostly by the local community and our tests are designed and administered at the district level with the cooperation of teachers.

No longer if this bill goes through, and no one seems to care.