Who Owns the Children?

In the 1980s Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox publicly stated that he did not believe parents were qualified to raise their children, much less teach them at home. This anti-parent mentality was shared by most of Texas’ elected officials. Today we are seeing a resurgence of the view that home schooling should be regulated by the government articulated by people like Stanford University Political Science Professor Rob Reich in his article, “Testing the Boundaries of Parental Authority over Education: The Case of Homeschooling.” Baylor Professor Perry L. Glanzer responded to this attack on home schooling in his article, “Rethinking the Boundaries and Burdens of Parental Authority over Education: A Response to Rob Reich’s Case Study of Homeschooling” in Educational Theory 58, no. 1 (2008): 1-16.

In her column, “The Harms of Homeschooling,” Georgetown Law Professor Robin West goes even farther to say that homeschooling unregulated by the state is harmful to children. Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), among others, responded to this article.

These scholarly articles are part of the political environment in which we find ourselves, I would say, that is very similar to what parents faced in the 1980s. The elites of our society then, as now, argued that parents were not qualified to teach their children, and it should not be allowed. Today the arguments say that it must be regulated by the state to “protect” children.

We are also seeing this philosophy being addressed in public policy as today the New Hampshire legislature considers legislation to regulate home schooling in that state, and last week a major newspaper in Indiana called for restrictions on home schooling in that state as well, based on the prosecution of two families.

Speaking of Indiana, a Washington Post story last August discusses a book by an associate professor at the Indiana University School of Education who calls for regulation of home schooling because of his concern about “serious Christians because they are the ones that public school professionals are most worried about.”

Last week a homeschool family in New York was arrested for failing to register with the state. Last month in Michigan a news article regarding the death of a child because of lax home school laws and the need for regulation of home schooling.

Two things we should understand is that our freedoms are never secure, and elections have consequences. We are suffering the consequences of our last federal election, and if we think these things can’t happen in Texas, we are fooling ourselves. The upcoming elections in March and November are as important as any in many years. (THSC PAC is currently reviewing candidates and will soon be issuing our endorsements in local and legislative races.) We all need to do everything in our power to make sure that we elect officials at the local and state level who support parents’ rights to direct the upbringing and education of their children. The consequences of doing otherwise are too frightful to consider.

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