Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Illegal Search and Testing

In my last post, John wondered where the line was for government intervention in the home.

I can understand that avoiding testing puts the power in your hands, but where's the line on that? Should the government ignore when some people beat the snot
out of their kids? I think there is a role to be fulfilled in the overseeing authority. [T]here is some positive reasons to keep the government involved in family lives.
After a lively conversation in the comments section, here are my thoughts and how this all relates to the testing of homeschoolers.

When a person commits a criminal act the state intervenes - that's the line and not before. The fact that some may neglect or abuse their children isn't justification for all parents to allow the state involvement in every home. Who has the compelling interest when the government's interests conflict with the family's interest? They cannot be equal partners in family decisions. One must defer to the other. In Amercia we give deference to the liberty of the private citizen to direct their own family. We are innocent until proven guilty. It is partly on that basis that I am opposed to any state requirement to test homeschoolers.

Testing a child to determine if they are being adequately educated is a violation of a parent's natural right to direct the education of their children. The fact that my child may pass an exam with flying colors is not justifciation for the state to require them. Nor is my child's failure, justification for the state to require all children to take them with the hope of "saving" some children.

By way of analogy, we would never allow the state to search a home to see if there is illegal activity going on. The state must show probable cause and get a warrant to search the home. Further, we don't allow the state to search all homes, only those of the suspected criminal. No one in their right mind would let a police officer search their home because their neighbor failed to obey the law or was abusive to his family. Nor would we pass a law that required all homes to be routinely searched to prevent parental abuse. Some parents may beat their children, but that is not justification for the state to search all homes to find those that are.

Yet, with education many assume the state has the right to test homeschooled children to make sure that the parents are doing what they say they are; simply because some could be negligent or abusive. That's a violation of the natural rights of the parent and a usurption of their authority. The parents have not been shown to be criminally negligent or abusive, yet they are required to submit to state validation of their parenting. This holds true even if the state gives them a choice of tests and doesn't require a specific state exam. The idea that the state would require any sort of exam to prove the parent has done an adequate job is like inviting the state into my home to prove I don't use drugs, beat my children, or feed them adequately.

I would never voluntarily allow the state search my home to see what I do. Why would I allow them to search my child's mind to see what they know?

Yet many do.

Now I'd like to turn the tables around and ask isn't it just as possible that the state can be just as negligent in their duties. There are plenty of recent teacher abuse stories to choose from, but let's take an admittedly extreme example to demonstrate my point.

Documents were released a couple of days ago related to the killers at Columbine. Here's an excerpt from a paper Dylan Klebold wrote just two months before the tragedy,

Klebold wrote a short story for an English class depicting a man who kills nine high school students with automatic pistols. "I saw emanating from him power, complacence, closure, and godliness," the story ended. "I understood his actions."

The teacher, whose name is not given, wrote, "You are an excellent writer and storyteller, but I have some problems with this one."

No kidding! This is only one of a many examples. But as tragic as this was, I don't fault the teacher. Hindsight is 20/20. Who knew he planned on turning his fictional story into an autobiography? We can add another layer of protection and turn our schools into a police state. But in reality, there is no safeguard for a human heart bent on doing evil - in a home or in a school. All the state intervention imaginable cannot prevent every tragedy. Someone always manages to do the unthinkable. Here was a young man obviously crying out for help and the state missed it - big time. Despite all the obvious warning signs and safeguards in place at the time, no one imagined a massacre like Columbine and guarded against it.

Who intervenes when the state fails? Should we allow the state of Colorado to enter every home to search for evidence of another Dylan Klebold?

To be sure, there are probably some homeschooling parents who will neglect the education of their children and may even be abusive. However , the fact that this may happen in one home, does not justify state intervention and testing of all homeschoolers. More laws and regulation will only diminish the freedom of those already obeying the law and does little for those determined to ignore it.

If a parent wants to privately assess their child through testing, fine. But no parent should be compelled to turn those results over to the state. It's none of their business.

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