Saturday, March 15, 2008

Government Trumps Parents - When ‘Rights’ Becomes Wrong

(Comments follow excerpts from this article.)

From the Los Angeles Times
Ruling seen as a threat to many home-schooling families
State appellate court says those who teach children in private must have a credential.
By Seema Mehta and Mitchell Landsberg
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

March 6, 2008

Parents who lack teaching credentials cannot educate their children at home, according to a state appellate court ruling that is sending waves of fear through California's home schooling families. . .

The institute estimates there are as many as 166,000 California students who are home schooled. State Department of Education officials say there is no way to know the true number. . .

The California Department of Education currently allows home schooling as long as parents file paperwork with the state establishing themselves as small private schools, hire credentialed tutors or enroll their children in independent study programs run by charter or private schools or public school districts while still teaching at home.

California does little to enforce those provisions and insists it is the local school districts' responsibility. In addition, state education officials say some parents home school their children without the knowledge of any entity.

Home schoolers and government officials have largely accepted this murky arrangement.

"Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children," wrote Justice H. Walter Croskey in a Feb. 28 opinion signed by the two other members of the district court. "Parents who fail to [comply with school enrollment laws] may be subject to a criminal complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction, and subject to imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and counseling program."

Teachers union officials will also be closely monitoring the appeal. A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said he agrees with the ruling. "What's best for a child is to be taught by a credentialed teacher," he said.

Kent Comments:

This episode illustrates how so-called “positive rights” can become wrongs.

Back when these United States involved an ever-moving and developing frontier, formal education was a valued privilege. All the “movers and shakers” recommended it and many worked to make it possible. Thomas Jefferson even went as far as to advocate the state funding it for anyone who desired it.

Eventually, some began to claim that everyone had a “right” to a formal education. That idea even made it into many state constitutions. And when education became a “right” things began to go wrong.

Many of the practical problems in schools today stem from mistakenly thinking that formal education is a “right.” If I have a “right” to a good or service, such as formal education, it becomes very easy to think it should be delivered to me. I shouldn’t have to do anything besides “consume” it. If you can’t see that philosophy running rampant among students today, you just aren’t paying attention.

There is a large gulf between the Jeffersonian idea of providing formal education for those who want it, and the more recent idea of providing formal education and requiring everyone to consume it because we supposedly have some ‘right’ to it. How can you force anyone to utilize formal education? What we have discovered, it seems to me, is that while you can force people to attend school, you cannot force them to partake of education.

Beyond that, consider what is being assumed once we accept the conclusion that the state can rightly force parents to send their children to a school of which they do not approve. That assumption makes children ultimately not children of their parents, but children of the state - and not just the state in general, but as things have worked out, the ‘eduaucracy’ of the state.

So the president of a teachers union thinks children should be taught only by “a credentialed teacher.” Who is surprised that a union wants to maintain its monopoly?

The government has no business in the ‘education’ business. The lame claim is made that the state has an important interest in an educated citizenry that can participate intelligently in the democratic process. When newspapers pander to a grade-school reading level, it is hard to make that case. When people are as easily swayed by the stupidity that passes for campaign politics, it is even more difficult to make that case.

Shouldn’t free people be allowed how, how much, when, and where to participate in formal schooling? While there are probably many families with problems in these areas, there are certainly even more government schools with systemic problems. These are problems that people complain about, governments debate and education bureaucracies never seem to solve.

Is it not long past the time to separate school and state?

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