Friday, August 15, 2008

Captives in a homeschool

Time Magazine had an interesting comment from, Education and Law instructor, Rachel F. Moran, said who worried about the lack of oversight for homeschoolers in California,

"[T]his series of rulings does indeed provoke some uneasy questions. Right now, all parents have to do is file paperwork stating they are a private school. No one checks in on the students to make sure they are logging in a certain number of hours or passing certain benchmarks. While homeschooling is a "wonderful alternative," Moran says, there is a need for checks and balances. "We want parents to have the freedom to homeschool, but we don't want children to become captives in a homeschool that doesn't prepare them for work or civic engagement as a functioning adult," she says.

In an ideal world, Moran adds, the state should implement a few safeguards. "Hopefully, a way to monitor progress rather than an adversarial reality will be an outgrowth of this decision," she says.

Moran seems to have things a bit backwards. In a free society, the government does not monitor the actions of its citizens nor do we need government approval or oversight to exercise our freedoms. Do I have to fill out paperwork to excerise my freedom to decide what to feed my children or what they wear? The freedom to homeschool and educate our children is not a right granted by the state, but a freedom granted by our Creator from my status as a parent. Moran's comment provokes some uneasy questions.

What "benchmarks" of child development should the state use to measure a child's progress? What legal standard does the state apply to determine whether a child is progressing toward becoming a "functioning adult?" What is the remedy if a child fails a certain benchmark or fails to meet the state's standard for "progress?" What authority does the state possess to subject a parent to its standard over one of their choosing for the education a child?

Does the state have the right to intervene in the parent-child relationship simply because the child fails to meet an arbitrary standard developed by those whose interests may not reflect the interest of the parents?

The natural reaction to such a question is to say that someone needs to "protect the best interest of the child." Attorney and author, Kerry Morgan answers this objection in his book, Real Choice, Real Freedom

"The best interest of the child is secured when the state protects a parent's unalienable right from civil regulation and unwanted private interference, whether philanthropic or otherwise...

Absent the legal destruction of the marital relationship or a lawful adjudication of unfitness based on physical abuse, the civil government is not authorized to act in the "best interest of the child." Absent the existence of such legal disabilities, the "best interest of the child" is always protected by security of the rights of parents to care for and educate their own children. Governmental
interference, however, with the child's education abuses the unalieanble right
of a parent and is contrary to the child's best interest." (p. 47)

The freedom to educate our children is the natural right of the parent given by our Creator not the state. Parenting is not a partnership. The state has no authority to act in the best interest of the child, unless the child becomes a dependent of the state. But that won't stop some people from trying to do exactly that. As much as Moran worries about our children become captives in a homeschool, I worry more about all citizens becoming captives of the state.

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