Home Schools Under Attack

As you’ve probably heard, a court in California has ruled that laws in that state require all home-schooling parents to have state certification as teachers.

There is no shortage of commentary on the subject. Here’s one article by Liam Julian, who works at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. Here’s a key paragraph dealing with the “hard case” nature of this situation, which is the allegation of child abuse:

Some adults abuse their children. It’s awful, but it’s not a compelling argument for criminalizing home schooling. Limiting parents’ ability to home school in order to combat child abuse is a crude solution for a more specific problem. It is also, perhaps, not much of a crude solution: the high rates of truancy in many public schools; the anonymity that can pervade at some of the larger, more impersonal ones; and the migration of students between states and cities and classrooms render it possible that abusive parents may be just as abusive for just as long regardless of whether their child attends the local school or stays at home. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that students have a greater chance of being abused at school than at home — in fact, that’s precisely why many parents home school in the first place.

And of course most parents, homeschooling or not, do not abuse their children–a fact that makes the rationale for exerting a large burden on parents who wish to homeschool indefensible.

Meanwhile, the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy has released an op-ed on the question, too. It’s called Homeschooling in California and the Good Society in Kansas (PDF).

A key thought:

As it goes about its business, then, government must operate within limits. The Supreme Court has affirmed this principle many times. Other limits include the Bill of Rights; a division of power between the national government and the state governments; and checks and balances among the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Limits on government are an essential part the American fabric.

Equally important to American life is the recognition that the political sphere is only one of several vital institutions in society. Others include the family; religious communities; the world of commerce; and voluntary organizations.

Each of these institutions is valuable, providing something necessary for life. Each has its own purposes and operating principles. “Treat everyone the same” may be a good principle for public programs, for example, but most parents will find that it’s not a good idea for childrearing.

Trouble results when one institution acts like another.

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