The following is the second and final part of a two-part series on the ongoing push to micromanage or outright ban homeschooling. This article will examine the gravity of the stakes involved in having the freedom to homeschool, and why the battle to maintain that freedom is well-worth fighting.
Homeschooling in the Midst of a Broken System
As was seen in part one of this series, the opponents of the homeschooling legal milieu can generally be grouped into two camps, the prohibitionists and the regulators. Professors and academic elites such as Bartholet, Fineman, Shepherd, Dwyer and Schulman belong to the former, while Reich, West, Yuracko, and Ross can be categorized (with certain caveats) among the latter. The former are ideologically committed to the ending parental freedom to educate their children as they see fit, in favor of compulsory state-sponsored indoctrination – constitutional protections be damned.
Defenders of homeschooling can generally negotiate with the regulators, provided the two parties can come to an agreement on the definition of terms such as “regulate” or “reasonable regulation.” In particular, while Christians will freely acknowledge the need for civil authority to maintain public order, a Thomistic approach to authority (among Catholics at least) and hard-won experience with education bureaucracies have taught homeschoolers to be suspicious of the state at both the local and federal level. For it is precisely those families who have chosen homeschooling in order to escape the woke pedagogic grasp of the state that have endured endless bait-and-switch tactics or have been subjected to a kind of ‘death-by-a-thousand-policies’ treatment by the government-run educational establishment.
Therefore, homeschoolers (Christian or otherwise) should always be prepared to seek a good faith accommodation to assure their fellow citizens that their efforts will not lead to academically neglected wards. At the same time, they should propose regulations that ensure that children are actually taught functional skills, such as literacy and numeracy, that are easily quantifiable while at the same time being non-intrusive to families.
All the same, despite Rob Reich’s surmise that most home-schoolers would eschew quality public schools for ideological reasons alone, the poverty of instruction in far too many public school remains a contentious factor in persuading such parents to reconsider their choice to homeschool- to say nothing of the anti-religious and anti-American biases evident in classrooms. Earlier this year, the sixth circuit Court of Appeals decided the Gary B v. Whitmer case and found the Due Process clause in the U.S. Constitution could be seen as protecting a fundamental right to state-provided literacy. While this ruling certainly raises the question of whether it will be used as an excuse for further state intrusion into homeschooling or other private schools, it is indicative of the state of public schools across the nation.
For instance, the data contained within the Gary B. v. Whitmer case showed that kids in Detroit-area public schools routinely have test scores that show that “just 4.2% of third-graders scored “proficient or above” in the state’s English assessment, compared to 46.0% of third-graders statewide” as well as a “zero or near-zero proficiency rates…. in English, compared to 49.2% statewide and…a 0% proficiency in at least one of Math, Science, or Social Studies.” Or take a city like Baltimore where, in the recent case of a “senior” who will have to go back to school as a fresshman. For despite passing only three classese in the last four years of his stint at high school and being at the top of his class with a .13 GPA, he was simply passed along by the school administration.
All of this should be proof enough that all of the purported benefits of state intervention out of “concern” for the well-being and education of children is a charade, and until the state demonstrates that it can master its own professed right and obligation to properly run the institutions under control, home-schoolers ought to be left in peace.
Homeschooling as an Antidote to that Broken System
Centripetalists, i.e., advocates of consolidating authority, who treat the State’s powers as exhaustive and the parents’ prerogatives as derivative and ancillary at most, might present a better case on their behalf if public schools were capable of instruction in basic skills, not to mention the transcendent ability to appreciate literature and grasp classical physics. However, as Gary B. v. Whitmer reveals how that expectation is very far from fulfillment.
In a National Affairs essay, author and educator Rafi Eis explains the reasons public schools are failing to meet their obligations is a philosophical one and is rooted in its reliance on flawed notions of pedagogy. This has, time and again, lead to a failure to enable children to learn necessary facts, principles and analytical techniques necessary for mature and rational adult participation. Instead, the current political climate relegates public schools to being “social justice” promotion facilities that, as a recent leaked video of some California teachers badmouthing parents showed, serve to warehouse minors while their parents are at work.
All of this just goes to show how self-professed liberals who like to acclaim the autonomy of children, do so under the guise of offering and protecting their rights, but in reality their goal is atomization – to divide and conquer the family into isolated and vulnerable individuals who can be picked off and/or controlled one by one. Everyone else recognizes that minor children lack full autonomy and rely on their parents (or guardians) for care and guidance, but that they gradually gain more independence with increasing maturity. In dealings with an impersonal state, loving mothers and fathers intercede on behalf of their children, who would otherwise be vulnerable to its exploitation due to both practical limitations and legal impediments. Leftists champion allowing the government to take command of its new subordinate pawns, while relegating the responsibility of any untoward consequences resulting from their actions back onto their families. Heads I win, tails you lose.
The leftists obscure their aspirations (just barely) by deliberately conflating the interests of the state with the needs of society, so that virtually all debate orbits around the extent of government’s authority without drawing attention to such abuse. Both the prohibitionists and the regulators favor legal intervention and contend that the state has an interest in raising virtuous and competent citizens. Wrong! While society as a whole certainly benefits from freely participating and competent citizens, the state and its lackeys have other priorities. Instead they would prefer to foster the development of torpid and compliant drones who are either incapable of coherent thought or cowered into passive obedience. Granted, a handful of the more ambitious and competent citizens can be delegated to provide useful STEM-oriented services, but the remainder are tactically indoctrinated to supply rubber-stamp votes for and to agitate on behalf of sanctioned causes, such as consolidating greater authority for petty agencies and sinecures for charlatans.
When children are raised bereft of family affection and taught to reject their “privilege”, to fear micro-aggressions, and are isolated by social media, they become atomized relics of educational malpractice and end up growing (not necessarily maturing) into citizens who reflexively respond like Pavlov’s dog. They become blinkered supplicants to the benevolence of Big Brother who will satisfy their visceral cravings, while leaving them unable to form responsibility-laden or meaningful (let alone familial) relationships. Such exploitations enable the state to divide and conquer the public by relegating the few remaining self-reliant citizens to be despised as a minority of “on your own” deplorables.
Remaining Steadfast Amist the System When it Strikes Back
Regarding the prohibitionists, parents have no choice but to resist. These cultic priests of an ersatz woke religion that worships centralized power, are unhappy that some Americans quietly but steadfastly defy their commissars’ politically correct pieties of “pluralism” and “diversity”, and thereby evoke suspicion. The prohibitionists’ demand for the state to bypass parental rights over their children from what they view as unethical influences during their tender ages, is seen by homeschoolers as an unwanted form of indoctrination.
Participation in home-schooling concentrates on the early years, so parents can instruct children in reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as specific moral principles based on religious practice or belief. Grounded in parental expectations, many of these children then attend more conventional academies to gain specialized instruction in history, mathematics and the sciences. Thus the stated concern by those who have an animus towards homeschooling, about perpetually sequestered tykes is unwarranted and prejudiced, so something else is at work here.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics as of 2016, of the nearly fifty-eight million American children, home-schooled children account for only 1.7 percent – less than a third of private school enrollment. So why all the fuss from all of these antagonistic professors and grievance mongers who felt the need for a massive conference to “deal” with homeschooling? It is nothing more than the continuing political divide that Harvard history professor James Hankins called “hyper-partisanship” in which the elite find ways to bring to heel the unwashed masses who silently decline their assent to utopian visions of “diversity” and intersectional victimology in whatever guise purported. This intolerant vantage poses no idle threat, as many of these hostile academicians see home-schoolers as akin to the Branch Davidians. And who can forget what happened to them?
Ultimately, there are two issues juxtaposing each other. The first is the bigoted leftist pretense of reprobate funda-gelical racist sexist dregs of society who lock their kids in attics to shield them from New Yorkers and dinosaurs. The second is the quest for control with which to force that 1.7% of non-conforming families under their thumb. In their perfect world, they would snatch the children away from their families and ensure they received a proper post-modern indoctrination, possibly in the same way the State abusively exercised its police powers such as when in 2000 the Clinton administration nabbed six-year old Elián González at gunpoint to appease Fidel Castro.
For the time being however, these would-be child grabbers will settle for the next best thing, and try to force every child into public schools. There children will endure long hours of being indoctrinated by activist teachers and speakers about renouncing their “privilege” and hectoring them to regurgitate platitudes from today’s equivalent of Mao’s little red book, as well as be physically abused and bullied by undisciplined brats inside cinderblock prisons as part of their inclusiveness instruction. They’re hoping to either bamboozle the public that home-school families are worthy of scorn and condemnation, or else stoke envy that they shouldn’t be permitted to circumvent the indignant regime imposed on virtually everyone else outside the self-anointed elite.
This is the reality that is behind the upcoming conference at Harvard which is meant to reinforce their hallowed vision of their diversity utopia, dreamed up by ivory tower academics who are far-removed from the daily lives of the families they seek to control. And they are willing to use the force of law gain that control, by using it as a club to wield against unenlightened reprobates that refuse to see the world the way they do and thus how to run it. To them the mere possibility that more children might break free from public school agitprop raises alarms and fosters panic among these elites, especially as polls suggest an increased support for homeschooling which will in turn cause a dramatic increase in the number of people choosing it.
Thus far, our traditions of liberty and at least one Supreme Court ruling have held their designs at bay. In the decision Bellotti v. Baird (1979), the Court ruled that “[A]ffirmative sponsorship of particular ethical, religious, or political beliefs is something we expect the State not to attempt in a society constitutionally committed to the ideal of individual liberty and freedom of choice.” [emphasis original] Moreover, we should also remember that our national anthem ends in a question that each generation must answer for themselves. The statue-toppling riots across the country last year do not evoke confidence in how some would answer that question, nor does the public education that “educated” many of the people who took part in the riots.
That is why in this day and age, home-schooling can be seen as a renegade counter-culture that challenges the elite and defies their posturing hypocrisy intended to tear down both academic merit and philosophical morals, not to mention improved instruction. The centripetalists’ dominance in law, education, bureaucracy and media looms over these inoffensive and powerless people who desire nothing more than to be left alone. But we watchfully perceive their threat and will not bend our knees.
Photo Credit- ohiostar.com