The People’s Republic of New York

Just over three weeks ago Richard and Margie Cressey of Glen, New York, were arrested on charges of “endangering a child.” What was their crime? They had been homeschooling their four boys for seven years … and had not registered with the state! According to home school leaders in New York, the incident began with a visit from Child Protective Services, probably the result of an anonymous complaint. Shortly after that the Sheriff’s office investigated, and the parents were arrested.

The incident generated a firestorm of protest from the home school community in New York, and the Sheriff’s office defended its actions by stating that they were only enforcing the law. Indeed, the law in New York requires families to register annually with the school district in which they live and to present their curriculum for approval. The family was scheduled to appear in court yesterday to face these charges, and we should pray for them. They have already registered with the school district and had their curriculum approved.

Friends in New York, who know the family, say the Sheriff made a comment that the kids needed to be in public school or they would never be successful. This incident serves as a good example of why home schoolers oppose the often-recommended regulation of registering with the state and having “educational experts” approve curriculum. Those laws only serve to give officials, who believe that they are better equipped than parents to decide what is best for children, a way to insert themselves into the lives of innocent families.

The legislature in New York has passed some of the most restrictive laws in the country for home school families. Lest we think this will never happen in Texas, there are many bureaucrats in Texas who hold views similar to the New York Sheriff.

Now is the time to talk to candidates who are running for local and state office about home schooling and to educate them on our issue and why we believe that parents deserve the freedom to direct the education and upbringing of their children without the heavy hand of government oversight and interference.


  1. Jim Bob Howard says

    Dear Tim,

    Great post, as usual. (You've expecially been knocking them out of the park this month!) It's great to see more posts from you.

    Question: How do we go about talking to the candidates and office-holders? How do we identify candidates that we can access to be able to dialog with them about homeschooling? Is visiting them during their office hours the best way to do that?

    When I had a regular homeschool dads' breakfast just north of Austin, we had the sheriff (who was up for re-election) join us one Saturday morning. It was an eye-opener for both parties: he was surprised that here was a group of fathers heavily investing in the lives of their children; we were surprised that we were the first "real" homeschoolers he had met, though he had seen lots of cases come through where the children were said to have been "homeschooled."

    The sheriff was pleasantly surprised that homeschooling was a not for everyone who wears that moniker a protection against prying eyes for illegal activity, because every "homeschooling" family he had met had been a case of real child abuse at "home" with little to no actual "schooling" taking place.

    It's easy to see how someone in that situation who only saw the worst possible scenario day in and day out could become jaded against true homeschooling. He only ever saw it used as a sham to destroy children.

    He may have thought dads like was were the exception to the rule, whereas we thought those who would take advantage of the title like that were the exception. On the one hand, we knew hundreds of other homeschooling parents who were teaching their children in a bona fide manner, using curriculum from any source, training them up diligently in reading, writing, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship (and a host of other subjects). He had only just met a handful who met that description, but had seen scores who didn't it.

    It's important that we as homeschoolers come alongside those who work for us in the public trust to help them see what law-abiding homescholers look like. As Christians, we must ask God to help us see things through their eyes, as well—loving and empathizing with them to see why they have attached a negative connotation to the term. If we only try to get them to see things our way, we'll appear to them as no more than talking heads trying to push our agenda.

    I don't want the heavy hand of government oversight and interference any more than the next person. But, we mustn't group all candidates, office-holders, statesmen, and politicians into a group of people who want to invade our private lives, any more than we like be grouped with the folks who use homeschooling as a sham.

    Let us assume the best of them until proven otherwise. And assuming the best, let us not stop to help them do the same of us.

    Jim Bob Howard

  2. timthsc says

    Jim Bob,
    The best time to talk to elected officials is when they are running for office. They will meet with groups, as your Sheriff did or with individuals. I have friends who are talking to judicial candidates about home schooling and CPS problems and grandparent access or posession issues and finding fertile ground in bringing to these candidates a perspective they were not aware of.

    Candidates at almost any level can impact our freedom. City council and County Commissioners can adopt daytime curfews. Judges can impact home schooling through CPS and custody cases as well as grandparent access issues and of course legislative candidates can vote for or against legislation that can help or hurt us.

    THSC PAC will be announcing its initial endorsments this week and that would be a good place to start looking for candidates. Or you could do what you have done in your own area with local candidates.

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