Friday, March 13, 2009

When a home breaks up

One of the most tragic situations for any family is divorce. But when parents split up in a homeschooling family, the education of their children often becomes a point of contention in the divorce settlement.

That's what is happening to homeschooling mother Vanessa Mills from North Carolina. Despite successfully homeschooling her three children for four years, the judge presiding over the divorce ordered her children back into the public schools because her curriculum has a religious slant.
"He was upfront and said that, 'It's not about religion.' But yet when it came down to his ruling and reasons why, 'He said this would be a good opportunity for the children to be tested in the beliefs that I have taught them,'" Venessa Mills said." (Full article here.)
The father, Thomas Mills, is also concerned about the religious beliefs and would like the children to be exposed to mainstream science curriculum. Fine, so why can't the father teach mainstream science to them during his time with them and the mother teach her beliefs during her time with them?

Divorce is disruptive enough and the children's beliefs are already being tested by this tragic divorce, why compound the issue with a disruption in their education and daily routine? But sadly, the fact that all sides agree that the children thrive with homeschooling and test far above grade level doesn't seem to be enough for the judge or the father.

Depsite the fact the father admitted that Vanessa Mills is a nurturing mother and his infidelity appears to have precipitated the divorce, the judge also ordered a mental health exam for the mother at her expense! Homeschool Injustice provides more details here.

(HT: Tammy)

UPDATE: The case made Drudge. That should help in the publicity and put some pressure on North Carolina policy makers.

Speaking of pressure, Heather (Sprittibee) emailed me with a response she received from a North Carolina legislator. He appeared to be sympathetic. If you'd like to contact him here's his contact info:

Neal Hunt
Deputy Republican Senate Leader
District 15 (Wake County)
Legislative Office: 919-733-5850
Business Office: 919-781-3464

UPDATE II: The judge has given both sides until Sunday to propose changes to his plan. This is a positive development. While this may not be specifically a "homeschooling case" the best interest of the children should not be solely determined by a judge who appears to have difficulty remaining impartial on the mother's religious views. Vanessa Mills is hoping public pressure will force Judge Magnum to change his mind or be removed from the case. Details here.

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