Monday, March 24, 2008

Certifying Parents -

Certifying Parents -

Apparently Nebraska isn't the only state grappling with what sorts of regulation is needed for homeschooling. The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece last week responding to a California judge's ruling that requires a teaching credential to teach children, even if they are your own and even if they are homeschooled.

This case is different from the Nebraska one in that Nebraska's issue was raised by the legislature, not the judiciary. Not that it makes a difference to the legions of homeschoolers who have been gnashing their teeth over this infringement of their rights. Or at least if you listen to all the hyperbole. For some reason, any attempt to regulate or quantify results of homeschooled kids is met with large-scale opposition.

As I've mentioned before, I don't believe that there's a "bright-line" between who's right and wrong on these issues. Of course parents should have the right to raise their children as they see fit, barring any sort of abuse. I'm just not sure what ought to count as abuse. Is it young-earth creationism? In any case, this issue is a useful one to tease out whatever particular biases your news source has. For example, the Wall Street Journal opines:

That so many families turn to home schooling is a market solution to a market failure -- namely the dismal performance of the local education monopoly. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, the majority of states have low to moderate levels of regulation for home schools, an environment that has allowed the option to flourish, especially in the South and Western U.S. Between 1999 and 2003, the rate of home-schooling increased by 29%.

For some parents, the motive for home schooling is religious; others want to protect their kids from gangs and drugs. But the most-cited reason is to ensure a good education. Home-schooled students are routinely high performers on standardized academic tests, beating their public school peers on average by as much as 30 percentile points, regardless of subject. They perform well on tests like the SAT -- and colleges actively recruit them both for their high scores and the diversity they bring to campus.

In 1994, a federal attempt to require certification of parent-teachers went down in flames as hundreds of thousands of calls lit up phone banks on Capitol Hill. The movement has since only grown larger and better organized, now conservatively estimated at well over a million nationwide. But what they can't accomplish legislatively, unions are now trying to achieve by diktat from the courts.

So, to them, homeschooling is both an issue of free markets and inappropriate judicial activism. The homepage for the "Homeschool Legal Defense Association" showcases this perspective:

So clearly to them, it's both a religious and a constitutional issue. Although in the rhetoric about various homeschooling issues, the HSLDA invariable asserts that homeschooling is a "fundamental" right, apparently their website argues that it is a right that requires constitutional protection. I'm terrified what constitutional changes they are seeking, especially if Dr. Dobson is on board. Here's the text of the proposed constitutional amendment:

The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.

Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.

No treaty nor any source of international law may be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.

What do you think? It appears to be ambiguous, over-reaching, and completely unneccessary to me.

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