Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Victory For Homeschoolers...Or Is It?

In my post of April 6, 2008, entitled Is Your Child State Property? I wrote about a California court ruling that effectively outlawed homeschooling. Having unleashed a storm of outrage, that same court has recently overturned its own ruling.

But Ayn Rand Institute legal analyst Thomas A. Bowden sees it for what it is…a superficial victory.

He writes in an op-ed:

But where’s the real victory for parents’ rights? Rights identify actions you can take without permission. A true victory would have been a judicial declaration that parents have an absolute right to control their children’s upbringing--and that they therefore don’t need government permission to educate their children as they see fit.

Instead, as this decision makes clear, California’s parents are expected to accept the status of perpetual supplicants, knees bent and backs bowed down to an all-powerful legislature that can decide at any moment to revoke its homeschooling “permission.”

To give parents a permanent victory, California would need to make its law consistent with America’s founding principles. Parents are sovereign individuals whose right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness includes the right to control their child’s upbringing. Other citizens, however numerous or politically powerful, have no moral right to substitute their views on child-raising for those of the father and mother who created that child.

Instead, a proper legal system recognizes and protects parents’ moral right to pursue the personal rewards and joys of child-raising.

By confirming that homeschooling is legal in California (at least for the time being), the recent court decision will undoubtedly quiet the shockwaves that were threatening to impact the apologists for government education--teachers’ unions, educational bureaucrats, and politicians. Their political and financial survival depends on a policy that treats children as, in effect, state property--but they have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, when the undiluted collectivism of that policy is trumpeted publicly.

The defenders of public schooling can now go back to papering over their system’s own failures--the very failures that helped fuel the homeschooling movement…

As the smoke clears from the current round of litigation, the battle lines remain as they were, clearly drawn. Are parents mere drudges whose social duty is to feed and house their spawn between mandatory indoctrination sessions at government-approved schools? Or are they sovereign individuals whose right to guide their children’s development the state may not infringe?

The answer could determine not only the future of homeschooling but the future of education in America.


Confronted with an explicit demonstration of tyranny in America, millions of people responded in typical American fashion…rebellion. But make no mistake, the government-run public school monopoly is itching to shut down all private education in America…including pre-school. The California court reversal is only a tactical retreat for them. The underlying cause that must be abolished is the government’s power to control education.

Homeschoolers and all advocates of educational freedom should not rest easy.

3 comments:

Donna said...

I love the idea of homeschooling and very much admire those who do it. I would love to see these families get a pro rata share of public school funds that each family would be responsible for. I think many more would seriously consider doing it if they had the financial backing to ensure the education they could provide their children was enriched with supplies, trips, and experiences that the extra dollars could provide. The homeschooling network would become so strong with all the wonderful, dedicated individual parents that would spend their days molding their children into educated, individual thinkers and teaching to their learning style versus the traditional learning style you find in school today. I think this is especially true of boys. Of course, I am generalizing here but I have noticed my sons learn much better in a hands on outdoor setting. They will listen to me read under a tree for hours..try the same thing in my living room and they are easily distracted. I digress....sorry! My question to you is how this could be implemented to ensure the funds were treated responsibly? Who would be determining proper use of the funds vs. irresponsible use?Parents, like your children and myself would use those funds and much of our own but I see so much potential for abuse. Our children will be competing for jobs with those from Asia and India in the future and I see homeschooling as possibly the best way to make our children competitive. Very interested in your thoughts...

Mike Zemack said...

Donna:

I love the idea of homeschooling and very much admire those who do it. I would love to see these families get a pro rata share of public school funds that each family would be responsible for…

My question to you is how this could be implemented to ensure the funds were treated responsibly? Who would be determining proper use of the funds vs. irresponsible use? Parents, like your children and myself would use those funds and much of our own but I see so much potential for abuse.


First, I want to establish that I am not a proponent of home-schooling per se, but of a free market in education...i.e., of individual rights.

This is a very good question. It raises a number of fundamental issues, some of them implicit, that I want to delve into. Actually, the answer, at least in part, is addressed in this post and others. If you haven’t already, then read the links provided in this post.

I’m currently writing a response, but it is a bit long for the comments section. So, look for a blog post on the issues you raised in the near future.

Thanks for your interest. Education is one of my key passions.

Christine said...

As a homeschooler myself, Donna, (and Zemack's daughter) I would suggest that the vast majority of homeschoolers would NOT abuse the funds. Of course, there are a small minority that would, no doubt, prioritize things other than their children's education, but there are also plenty of public school teachers that are tenured and not held accountable for poor teaching and guiding in the classroom. Just because a few homeschoolers would not respect the privilege is no reason to deny the rest of us our right as parents to keep the money for our own children's education instead of being forced to fund public schools.