In my last post I mentioned that I had given testimony in a custody case in Cameron in which the attorneys for both the father and his parents were attacking home schooling and arguing that the mother should not have custody of her children because she homeschooled them and “isolated” them. The attorneys made these arguments in spite of testimony from several teachers regarding the outstanding character and academic excellence of the children.
The attorneys challenged the fact that a child could receive adequate education and socialization by a parent, in spite of volumes of evidence to the contrary. They even tried to link home schooling as the cause in another case in the court in which the parental rights of a couple were terminated. The psychologist in that case claimed that the young husband had severe issues that his own mother failed to address when she homeschooled him.
Of course, no one tries to make such arguments against public schools when a public school teacher is guilty of abuse or neglect. In fact, public education is not even attacked when teachers in the same elementary school in California are charged with child molestation. Nor should we judge schools or educational methods on anecdotal evidence. The empirical data in support of the fact that home schooling as a very viable educational alternative is overwhelming.
However, while these attacks against home schooling in this particular custody case are made to accomplish the father’s and grandparents’ goal to take this mother’s children from her, there are growing attacks against home schooling for philosophical reasons as well.
In a post last year, I commented that the “Occupy Wall Street” (OSW) movement had listed as one of its goals the outlawing of home schooling. I had several responses from home schoolers who support that movement that this was not really the goal of the group, but in fact it was listed by the group in an “unofficial” list and continues to be posted on its official website.
Last week another liberal website posted an anti-home schooling article chastising their fellow progressives who homeschool or support home schooling. The article says that home schooling is “unevenly regulated” by the states and that even the liberal literature on home schooling has “overheated hostility toward public schools.”
“Of course, no one wants to sacrifice his own child’s education in order to better serve someone else’s kid,” they say, but that is exactly what the author advocates. He says, “. . . [G]overnment is the only institution with the power and scale to intervene in the massive undertaking of better educating American children, 90 percent of whom currently attend public schools.”
What this liberal group is really advocating is that we need to make sure that we force people into the public education system so we can make sure that they adopt the value system and worldview that we want all Americans to have. Many years ago I had a conversation with a Republican candidate for a statewide judicial office who voiced similar concerns. He was worried what might happen to the public school system if all the good students like my children were taken out to homeschool. My response was that I was concerned about doing what was best for my children and that I was not willing to sacrifice doing that in order to try to help solve the ills of public education. My progressive home school friends still agree.
Last week I attended a conference at which I met a couple with a ministry in Germany, and we discussed the total opposition of the government there against home schooling. The German government believes that it is in the state’s interest not to allow individual parents to indoctrinate their children in place of the state. It appears that we may be moving in that direction in this country as well, with the Obama administration’s new directive requiring religious institutions to provide contraception services, including abortifacients, in spite of the religious objections of individuals, churches, and religious organizations. Many view this as an attack on religious freedom and conscience.
We must be wary of the growing level of political opposition to home schooling based not on academic concerns but on philosophical grounds. We must vigorously defend home schooling at every opportunity lest we, too, come to that place where we are told that our religious convictions and our rights as parents are overruled by the state and we find that we cannot teach our children at home.