Saturday, August 18, 2012

Infant Jesus of Prague

This statue is at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in NE

Freedom to Homeschool

excerpts from  "The Freedom to Homeschool"
(I added the bold)    
“It’s a free country” may not continue to resonate with Americans for much longer either. As Obamacare’s individual mandate was predicated on the notion that costs incurred by an individual but borne by society necessitate government intervention, politicians in this country could easily be convinced—by, say, teachers unions—that homeschoolers are no different than the uninsured in the costs they impose on the rest of us. Doesn’t society suffer if kids aren’t being properly socialized? Don’t institutions suffer if children aren’t being properly educated into citizenship?

In fact, the argument is already being made. In a 2010 paper in the journal Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly, Georgetown Law School professor Robin L. West characterized homeschooling families as a political “army,” whose objective “is to undermine, limit, or destroy state functions. . . Also sacrificed is their exposure to diverse ideas, cultures, and ways of being.” Others see homeschooling as a potential threat to public health; a 2008 USA Today article claimed that some families homeschool in order to avoid mandatory vaccinations.

Stanford University political scientist Rob Reich has argued that homeschooling should be strictly regulated both to ensure that children become good citizens and to prevent them from becoming “ethically servile,” or victims of their parents’ blinkered worldviews. His idea is founded on what he perversely calls the “freedom argument.” Of his proposed regulations requiring parents to check in with the state he writes, “The minimal standard will include academic benchmarks as well as an assurance that children are exposed to and engaged with ideas, values, and beliefs that are different from those of the parents.”

Reich and West would like to see parental rights subordinated to those of the child. They see unregulated education in the home—especially in the homes of religious believers—as insufficiently committed to diversity, secular progressivism’s cardinal virtue.

Earlier this year in a Slate article subtitled “Why teaching children at home violates progressive values,” journalist Dana Goldstein asked “Does homeschooling serve the interests not just of those who are doing it, but of society as a whole?” Like Reich and West, Goldstein cannot imagine homeschooling that doesn’t resemble involuntary confinement to a Wahhabi madrasah. But most homeschooling families I know make ample use of their scheduling freedom to pursue enriching and, yes, diverse opportunities: field trips to city halls and statehouses; substantive volunteer opportunities in hospitals, homeless shelters, and nursing homes, athletic contests, etc.

The progressive critics of homeschooling are less interested in promoting tolerance than they are in promoting compliance. It’s the freedom that bothers them, not what kids learn or how well they learn it. It’s about who decides. In other words—here as in Spain—it’s about politics. And it won’t be long before some enterprising American politician proposes a set of rules that would effectively deprive my family of its right to homeschool. This will come not as an outright ban on the practice but as an array of guidelines and edicts couched in the most unobjectionable terms—ensuring diversity, promoting responsible citizenship, safeguarding public health.

If the state appoints itself to guard against indoctrination by parents, who is to protect children from indoctrination by the state? Critics of homeschooling rarely grapple with this question for the likely reason that they are committed to a value system that is as uniform and intolerant in its own way as they imagine the value systems of American homeschoolers to be.