Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Parental Rights

Michael Farris wrote a very thought provoking article in the March / April issue of the HSLDA Court Reporter. He believes that the time is right for an amendment to the US Constiution to preserve the right of the parent to direct the upbringing and education of their children. In the article, Mr. Farris gives a brief history of parental rights protection. He then asserts, based on recent Supreme Court decisions, that judicial support for parental rights is thin. That fact coupled with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, could spell trouble down the road for the American family.

The threats to parental rights are real and growing. And we must face the fact that the right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is not explicitly written in the text of the Constitution. If we wish to preserve this right, it is my contention that now is the time to put parents' rights into black and white - that is, to adopt an explicit constitutional amendment. If we wait until the threat fully matures, we will have waited too long.
Have we come to the place in our country where this is now necessary? In the past, the law and its writers recognized the unalienable right and responsibility of the parent. In 1841, Francis Wayland President of Brown University, authored The Elements of Moral Science. This book became a standard university textbook. He wrote

While [a parent] discharges his parental duties within these limits, he is, by the law of God, exempt from interference both from the individual and from society.
I wonder how many universities still teach from this text. I bet not many.

Mr. Farris's idea definitely merits strong consideration. The struggle between the rights of the parent and the rights of the state are only going to get more intense.

I would be interested in knowing the exact wording of before I could fully support the idea. I hope that it would state that it was an unalienable right and not just a fundamental right of the parent. A fundamental right would mean that the state and its courts could weigh a competing claim in the care or education of a child. Thus, a fundmanental right would be much more limiting that an unalienable right.

I'm also curious, if such an ammendment were successful, would it nullify compulsory attendance laws as well? That would seem to be the logical outcome of such an ammendment if it were framed as an unalienable right of the parent to direct the upbringing and education of their children free from societal interference. If that's the case, we should all be supporting this.

In any case, read Mr. Farris's whole article. I'd love to know what others think about the ideas he presents. Would you support a move toward a Constitutional ammendment to protect the rights of the parent?

This is a lot to think about. But I definitely agree with Mr. Farris that we need to be proactive in our thinking on these issues. The best defense is a good offense.

(Note: Some information for this post and the quote from Francis Wayland were taken from the book Real Choice Real Freedom in American Education by Kerry Morgan and used with permission.)

Thanks to Jacque Dixon for pointing me to the HSLDA article.

Related Tags: , , , , , , ,

No comments: