Thursday, January 21, 2010

Defending Homeschool Liberty

Over at Parent at the Helm is another article which I wrote about the importance of defending homeschool autonomy. Here are some excerpts....

I cannot stress enough the importance of remaining vigilant and working together to change or stop pieces of legislation which are burdensome, onerous, or just plain stupid. New Hampshire homeschoolers should be congratulated on their stunning victory last week which defeated a legislative attempt to impose more stringent regulations on New Hampshire homeschooling families. The parents in New Hampshire worked long and hard calling and writing their legislators, informing them of the value of homeschooling, and of the value of preserving and protecting the rights of parents. It proves, once again, the power of “we the people” joining forces in defense of liberty.

The arguments for this nanny state piece of legislation are not unusual. State Board of Education bureaucrats and administrators always seem to demand that the State give them authority to look over a homeschool parent’s shoulder and render an opinion as to whether they “are doing their job properly” (as if the government schools are doing such a bang up job of it in their own classrooms). So ultimately they want to broaden their power to include parents of kids who aren’t even enrolled in their government school system! Can you imagine if they included private school parents in their witch hunt? Or asked private schools to give the State oversight of their curriculum, or adhere to the same regulations they demand of homeschoolers? I think you’d see an outcry.

In this instance in New Hampshire, they complained that, “There is no way to know whether students who choose the test option are keeping portfolios. Administrators do not have sufficient information to determine whether a home education program needs remediation or should continue.” Legislation such as this also leaves ambiguities which no doubt would require further legislation to “clarify.” The bigger problem with this type of legislation is that there is no presumption of innocence. It screams we don’t trust that parents are adequately caring for and educating their own children, therefore we need some legal statement from parents and more regulations for them to follow. Why then would they not also ask for a legal statement that you sign to affirm that you are feeding your children or giving them adequate clothing? Why not a legal statement affirming that your kids are going to bed at a decent hour or not playing with matches? Do school and State administrators also have so much time (and money) on their hands that they can examine every homeschool family for adherence? I think not.

We’ve had equally distrustful legislators here in Connecticut, who have outright said to us, “How do we know that you are really homeschooling your child?” We’ve replied, “How do we know that a legislator isn’t embezzling money or making counterfeit bills in his basement? Should we have a house to house check? Shall we examine your checkbook?” There are mechanisms already in place in most state statutes to deal with parents that do not take care of their children, no matter how those children are educated. If there is a reasonable articulable suspicion that neglect exists, the proper authorities may seek a warrant based on a probable cause using already established constitutional and statutory procedures. No other legislation is necessary really, and we honestly do not need government examining our school books.

... The fact that homeschoolers are autonomous in their curriculum, and have local control in the truest sense, is what makes them so successful!

State elections for your legislatures are coming up in November.. remember to ask very pointed questions to these candidates, because state legislatures make laws regarding education.

Click here to read the questions that you should be asking every candidate in your state and don't forget to add a few of your own.