"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Warning to Parents: The State Knows Your Child's Educational Needs Better than You.

This story about parents being forced to place their homeschooled children into public school comes from Canada but don't get too complacent if you are in Missouri. This type of ruling may be coming to a school district near you:

Four children ages 9, 7, 5 and 3 from a homeschooling Catholic family in Notre-Dame-des-Bois in Qu├ębec, Canada have been ordered into public school for socialization and non-phonics reading instruction. The judge had previously ruled the oldest children must be placed into the public education system for "socialization" and this most recent ruling included the younger children be placed in state run care. (Judge) Bernier also criticized the mother's teaching style, saying the use of phonics to teach reading is out-dated.

Apparently there have been no allegations of abuse; the judge believes the children are not socialized enough and are being taught to read in an "old-fashioned manner".

Why should this concern you if you are in the United States? Here is Missouri, we had a bill introduced this year lowering the compulsory age for school and mandatory kindergarten. This bill did not pass, but homeschoolers have been fighting the same battles for many years. From Culture Vigilante:

The past several years have seen a movement in the legislature to instill cradle to grave control of your children via the educational system. In 2009 SB 291 (go to page 62 and read the changes marked in boldface) forced a rise in compulsory attendance age from 16 to 17, and very restrictive mandates that revised the law outlining graduation requirements. These changes were a devastating blow to the homeschool community who suffered the side effects from this unnecessary educational regulation. In 2010 Sara Lampe introduced legislation that would lower the compulsory school age from age 7 to age 6, and require full day kindergarten in public schools.

You are seeing the attempt of the erosion of parents' authority to educate their children in the way they see fit in Missouri. You can see it in action in Canada and also in New Hampshire where a Christian homeschooled student was ordered into public school. No abuse was discovered by social service agencies for the Canadian children or the American student. The courts apparently believe the students are learning in the way the state deems appropriate.

One of the younger Canadian children had either a mild or severe hearing loss; this fact is not clear from the news reports. The judge found the older children "demonstrated difficulty" getting along with other children after being ordered to start public schooling. The judge made the finding the family failed to act quickly to correct learning disabilities, despite their doctor’s testimony to the contrary.

I found one blogger who supported the government ruling. The rest of the news accounts are incredulous parents cannot educate their children in the way they see fit. Having a child who is hearing impaired (as I do) is like walking through a mine-field. There are numerous conflicting studies on the appropriate way to educate hearing impaired students. If we had stayed in the school district and used the one method offered to my child (which was not appropriate to his needs), I doubt he would be the student and person he is today. The lone blogger supporting the state writes:

Although given few facts in this media maelstrom, I would bet that given a chance to fully analyze the children’s situation, I would be more likely to agree with the judge than with the home-schooling parents. The nu
t of it is this: We should protect children from “bad teachers,” whether in schools or at home.

Why would he agree with the state rather than the parents? What makes these parents (as he implies) "bad teachers"? Is it because they were not educating the children in the manner deemed appropriate by the state? Why should we as parents believe the state or a school district knows better how to educate our children than the parents do?

Looking at the educational success of hearing impaired students over the last two decades from our previous school district in Kansas leads me to believe we made a better decision for our child than any IEP team could have crafted or a judge could have ordered. Imagine that. We knew our child's needs better than governmental employees and bureaucrats.

As one commenter wrote in response to the Canadian ruling:

That’s really the part that makes this whole thing insane. To order a child who would not, in the ordinary way of things, be compelled by law to attend school, into compulsory *daycare* — even if the rest of the ruling made sense, that would undo any “child’s-best-interest” rationale driving the judge’s decision. Is this a precedent for potentially requiring any family, including families whose older children do attend school, to enroll their preschool-aged children in –not just preschool, mind you, but daycare facilities, because not to do so is to neglect, criminally, a small child’s supposed social needs? This element of the case makes it not about homeschooling at all, really, but about the role parents should play in the lives of their own children. Welcome to “Supporting Cast,” Mom and Dad.
cation of a child, wanting to protect children from the external environment they perceive as bad. They have deprived the children of a proper education."

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