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Government Attacks on Homeschooling Continue

Does a Judge Have the Right to Parent Your Kids?

By Laura Woolfrey-Macklem
Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

I remember when I first announced to my world of family and friends that my husband and I decided to homeschool our two daughters.

I winced when I made the announcement via a giant Email, and then on Facebook. I understood people would have questions, and that was fine, although some crossed the line. There were raised voices, and quiet disapproval. Although we did have some support, it wasn’t easy.

I was called “insane” and “crazy.” I also heard aggressive insults hurled at homeschoolers everywhere, about how they are “misfits” and “weird.” A couple said they felt sorry for my children, because they would be denied a traditional school experience. Also, did you know we are apparently religious extremists?

Of course, the only ammunition people have about homeschooling is conjecture. No one can dispute that on average, homeschoolers do better academically overall, so the big, red bullseye is set on something no one can easily gauge through testing – socialization.

I am happy to say that after seeing my second grader test at high school levels in reading and spelling, that her anxieties are gone, and hearing about the hands-on education she is getting, the naysayers in my life have come around.

I freely teach in a very homeschool-friendly state, where all I must do is register my children, and have them tested once a year. But a Florida woman isn’t so lucky.

Opinions and Stereotypes

Therese Cano and her ex-husband have been in an on-going visitation dispute in regards to their children. The judge assigned the family a psychologist and a guardian ad litem, which is supposed to be an advocate for children.

According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a court-appointed psychologist admitted to the court that academically, the children were flourishing. However, the guardian ad litem said that her “gut reaction” was the children were not being socialized, and should be in public school.

No proof, just a feeling based on her own opinions and stereotypes.

The HSLDA said, “Without warning the judge used the hearing not just to rule on the visitation schedule, but also to order the kids into public school, even though the father had not made education an issue before the hearing.”

According to reports, the judge scolded the mother saying, “When are they going to socialize? Is homeschool going to continue through college and/or professional schooling? At which point are these children going to interact with other children, and isn’t that in their best interest?”

The socialization “concern” is a joke in the homeschool community, and I would liken it to any racial or religious stereotype.

It’s pretty clear the judge nor the court-appointed ad litem understands homeschooling, or socialization and simply snapped to judgment.

Being in a classroom with the same 25 or so students the same age all year long, with only two field trips a year and short recesses is not the picture of socialization. Throw some bullying, stressful tests, and peer pressure in the mix, and it’s not exactly ideal.

Not that traditional school doesn't have merits, but it is not socially superior to homeschooling. In our homeschool community, children of all ages learn to interact with each other under the direct supervision of parents, and we are constantly out in the community meeting all different types of people, from brick makers to bread bakers. We go beyond the books and into the real world. School is not a simulation of life after high school, and from my experience I just have to say, thank God.

Values DO Matter!

Homeschooling is a lifestyle, and a way to raise children up with our values, no matter if they are secular or of faith. It’s a way to encourage our kids to explore their academic or creative passions – something that would be difficult with a rigorous school schedule. And, for those parents with children who do not fit in a box socially or academically, it allows them to tailor the curriculum and experiences to fit their individual children.

No need to drug up your child because they don’t possess the attention span of others – just make adjustments. And homeschool is about family. I would never know my two daughters the way I do if I didn’t homeschool. How do I know? They both attended public school, so I speak from experience.

What this judge is doing, is turning the world of these children of divorce upside down, especially because they are clearly in a hostile situation between their parents. Why take away even more of their security?

Homeschool students aren’t always prepared to enter traditional school with peer pressure, student aggression, and intense testing and even homework. Some would do fine, but others simply aren’t conditioned for it. Not all school situations are bad, and in fact I’m sure many people are quite happy with their experience. But the national message is loud and clear – bullying and low test scores have diseased our schools, and putting homeschooled children from an already broken family in this situation is not the best move.

The best interests of these children are not being served.

And while the Cano case should sound an alarm for homeschool families everywhere, it really boils down to freedom, and a growing trend of government trying to control every aspect of our lives, including our children.

A Chicago school banned children from bringing their own lunches because they were deemed not nutritious enough, morning after pills are handed out without parental permission at some schools, and Planned Parenthood legally gives abortions to minors without parental knowledge or consent in several states.

Having an abortion is surgical procedure, and no parental knowledge is required? I couldn’t even give my daughter Chapstick without a doctor’s note, but she would be allowed to get an abortion without me even knowing.

One of the scariest quotes I’ve heard comes from MSNBC host and Tulane University political science professor, Melissa Harris-Perry. She said that we need to get rid of this “private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to the whole community.”

Children from non-abusive family environments don’t belong to the communities, and they don’t belong to the courts, they belong to parents. Hitler said “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”

I fear this is what government and radical liberals are after – the control over our children and youth.

Parenting from the Bench

The judge in this case is guilty of rocking the world of a family, in a way he doesn’t understand. I don’t know this family, but if a judge were to order my children back to school, it would devastate us all.

I asked my third grader tonight, “What if I sent you back to school?”

Her eyes bulged out, as she grabbed her forehead in distress just trying to wrap her brain around the concept. Her list included, “I would be bored, get bullied again, I wouldn’t get to read as much, and I would get punished with the whole class when they did bad things. And, I would be away from you, which I don’t want.”

After I assured her this question was hypothetical, she gave me a response of “Whew!”

If the judge bothered to speak with the children about how they felt, he might change his mind. Perhaps, he might see that homeschooled children are not misfits or social outcasts, and that homeschoolers lacking socialization is nothing but a myth.

Look at students who end up shooting up their schools or who commit suicide because they couldn’t fit in at school. Were they not properly socialized by the simple virtue of being in school? All too often, school is about survival, not socialization.

This case is on appeal, and the HSLDA filed a friend of the court brief with the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, “explaining the broad success of homeschool is demonstrated not only through academic studies, but also in social engagement,” according to a HSLDA document. I hope the family wins this legal battle, and sets a precedent that judges cannot parent other people’s children from the bench.

 

 


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