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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Who is the Primary Educator of Children in England?

The Home School Legal Defense Association has been warning for years that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) threatens the rights of parents, particularly with regard to home schooling. It's no longer a threat, the results are proving to be exactly the nightmare predicted.

According to the Children's Rights Alliance for England, by signing the treaty, "The UK Government agreed to make all laws, policy and practice compatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child when it ratified it on 16 December 1991 (though it registered some reservations). As international law, the Convention is meant to be followed and should be referred to by courts, tribunals and other administrative processes when making decisions that affect children."

What does that mean for home schoolers in England?

A report to the Secretary of State on home schooling, Review of Elective Home Education in England, was issued this month. Among its recommendations are:

--mandatory registration with the Department of Children, Schools, and Families (DCSF) renewed annually

--oversight by local DCSF administrators including the right to enter the home and interview each child alone

--DCSF to determine what constitutes a “suitable” and “efficient” education

--That local authorities "where appropriate commission the monitoring and support of home education"

--"That parents be required to allow the child through exhibition or other means to
demonstrate both attainment and progress in accord with the statement of intent lodged at the time of registration"

--That authorities "should regard the move to home education as a trigger to conduct a review and satisfy themselves that the potentially changed complexity of education provided at home, still constitutes a suitable education."

The report pays lip service to the rights of parents as primary educators, but shows a distrust of their judgment which is replaced by educational bureaucrats. There is also an underlying assumption that home schooling is, at least in a minority of cases, a screen for child abuse so ALL parents must be closely monitored in order to safeguard children. The report provides no evidence for the assumption.

The report makes it clear that one goal is to ensure government access to the child by law:

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) gives children and young people over forty substantive rights which include the right to express their views freely, the right to be heard in any legal or administrative matters that affect them and the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. Article 12 makes clear the responsibility of signatories to give children a voice:
'Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.' Yet under the current legislation and guidance, local authorities have no right of access to the child to determine or ascertain such views.

The report calls for "balancing" the rights of parents and children. In other words, create laws that allow the government to invade the home without cause or due process, for no other reason than that the family has chosen to withdraw their children from government schools and teach then at home.

Interestingly, the report begins with this quote:

The need to choose, to sacrifice
some ultimate values to others,
turns out to be a permanent
characteristic of the human
predicament


ISAIAH BERLIN

The quote is false on its face. If a value is "ultimate," i.e., fundamental, it cannot be sacrificed to another equally-fundamental value. That's why the mother in the Old Testament urged her seven sons to die as martyrs rather than apostatize. All of the martyrs in the Church have refused to sacrifice a fundamental value, their faith, in order to save their lives. But this lie is the basis of the report.

Much of the language is benign and some recommendations offer the carrot that allows children to enroll in school programs such as sports and music, but overall the report recommends a government grab of parental rights that gives bureaucrats control over the family, particularly children's education.

You can read the entire USDA article and access the U.K. report here.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a catholic parent, I have seen the results of homeschooled children. I know at least 15 families and well over 100 children who have been home schooled. I am 100% opposed to it.
Why? Often the parents are lazy. They find it so much easier to skip all the duties required to send a child to school, pick them up, do field trips etc....These parents prefer to sleep until 9-10-11am, go to the gym or some such activity. Older kids watch the little kids is the practice.
These children are isolated from normal daily activities, including exercise, and involvement in organized sports. I have also witnessed parents who are so careless, the child turned 18 and never received a high school diploma. Homeschooling from what I have seen should most clearly be outlawed. It is very harmful to children.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Wow! I don't know where you live, but I homeschooled for five years, know dozens of home schooling families, belonged to a home school support group, and corrected high school English papers for Seton Home School for a year after my own home school days were over. My experience is completely different. I find home schooling families among the most impressive on earth.

I remember being in Dulles Airport once in the ladies room where two darling little girls were washing their hands, the older helping the younger. I turned to the mom and said, "Do you home school?" She was startled but said, "Yes, how did you know?" I replied, "Your girls are calm and they are treating each other with respect." It was obvious to me that they were "different" from so many out-of-control children of today.

I absolutely loved home schooling and so did the parents I knew. We did all types of innovative things from visiting a company that made computer puzzle games to having an international festival where every family represented a different country. My daughter and I volunteered at a local nature center doing their "nature detectives" program for pre-schoolers. For one program my daughter wrote a script with me interviewing her dressed in a costume (an art project) as a migrating snow goose. A grandparent said it was "the cutest thing I ever saw."

I ran a drama club and directed a dozen home schooled children ranging in age from about 9 to 14 in an abridged version of The Tempest which we performed at the Folger Shakespeare Theater's middle school festival in Washington, D.C. One of my students ended up on the cover of their brochure. They learned how much fun Shakespeare could be.
Let's see...how many public school third graders are memorizing Shakespeare?

And we were not unusual. I met hundreds of families at home school conventions and they were all dedicated and committed. They wanted the best for their children and were providing it.

Home schoolers commonly win the National Spelling and Geography Bees or place high up. They are welcomed by colleges because they are independent learners who know how to do research and study on their own. Former home schoolers are serving in the military (my nephew among them) and they are attending ivy league schools and other universities.

Maybe you need to get out a little more and meet some real home schoolers. I saw hundreds of them in April performing in Silver spring using a professional theater doing a variety show with choral singing, dancing, drama skits, etc. It was very impressive. I'm appalled that in your biased limited experience you would dare to make the statement that home schooling "must clearly be outlawed."

And what about the "lazy parents" who prefer to dump their children in failing public schools that graduate functional illiterates and some lazy teachers who retire long before they quit teaching. I did my student teaching under one of those.

Anonymous said...

From what I have seen about 90% of the time, homeschooling is not the best pathway for the kids. I was first exposed to lots of homeschooling families about 10 years ago. On the surface, it seemed quite normal.As I got to know them, my opinion changed. At large gatherings these folks were all into talking about the NEW WORLD ORDER, the Jews were taking over the world. The racism was open. there was no shortage of goofiness. One person told me my kids should not drink any soda ,ever. She told me the gov was adding chemicals to control the mind. Others were into claiming the pope was not the real pope or topics like that. One item that shocked me was how many were not sending their child to college. In short, I found many of these people were just loony. I never found that type of person in private catholic schools.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

And there are no strange parents in public and Catholic schools? Interesting...I had my kids in Catholic schools for over 20 years and I found plenty of lunacy there. Maybe you just don't recognize it because dissent and liberalism are your world view. I had to continually warn my children against certain high school teachers. At one point I told them just because a person was wearing a roman collar or a habit didn't mean he/she was telling the truth. Thankfully, our kids all listened, became critical thinkers, and are all still practicing the faith and teaching it to their children. And one is home schooling.

As for keeping your kid out of college... why fund the liberal left? Only a handful of colleges don't brainwash students, rob them of their faith, mock their parents' values, and introduce them to free sex (which turns out to be pretty expensive) and utter perversion. There is nothing wrong with learning a trade and having your children go to community colleges locally so they aren't thrown into the wolves' den.

As for home schoolers, get the facts. They are both academically and socially more advanced than their public school counterparts. Check out the research. Your ignorant bias is showing.

The study below is about ten years old, but with more resources today for home schoolers, it's likely current studies would show similar or better outcomes. At the time over a million students were homeschooling. The study covered over 20,000 families (just a few more than your "15"). Most of the children were at least a grade level ahead of their age. The study used the Iowa Test of Basic Skills which is also used int he public school.

http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v7n8/

Here's a more recent study on home schoolers who are now adults. All were home schooled for at least 7 years. More than 7,000 adults were interviewed. (Again -- just a few more than your "15.")

http://www.nheri.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=171&Itemid=47

Just one of the findings is that home schoolers are more civically involved than the average adult no matter what their attitudes as children were about home schooling.

Get the facts!