Saturday, June 09, 2007

Illiberal Homeschooling: More on Kimberly Yuracko's Paper

Dana at Principled Discovery had an excellent post yesterday on the paper I wrote about by Kimberly Yuracko. She pinpoints the real constitutional problem with the argument put forward by Ms. Yuracko:

Only a certain minimum education that the state is mandated to ensure which
includes not only basic skills, but certain liberal values. And this is
central to her argument (emphasis mine):

It [the argument about the constitutionally mandated minimum that states must require of homeschools] highlights the distinctness of parents and children and emphasizes that parental control over children's basic education flows from the state (rather than vice versa). States delegate power over children's basic education to parents, and the delegation itself is necessarily subject to constitutional constraints.

This is what I don't really understand. I'm all for a "liberal" society, at
least in theory. I live peacefully in a society with atheists, homosexuals,
Muslims, pagans and liberals. I don't agree with them. In conversation, I may
even tell them that. But I am not about to try to exert any political force
against them or what they teach their children as truth. What ideas exactly
is a "liberal" society open to, if conservatism is so taboo as to necessitate state oversight of the relationship between parent and child to ensure its extinction?

But more central to the argument, and more concerning to me is the idea that
the parent's ability to homeschool is delegated by the state. What happened to
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union,
establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense,
promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America?"

We the people gave the power to the state which governs by our consent. That
is the most fundamental assertion of the Declaration of Independence and the
Constitution, and yet somehow out of that we assert that the parent does not
have the right to educate the child, but is only delegated a portion of the
state's authority?

I am not saying that parents have the right to not educate their child, but
some minimal standard of due process should be necessary to bring the state into
my home to oversee what I am doing. And "Christian" shouldn't be enough.

This is really where the rubber meets the road when it comes to constitutional issues. Perhaps Ms. Yuracko is one of those who would like to see a new constitutional convention; there are those in America who would. But until we have a new Constitution (and let's hope it's a long time), the state has only those powers given to it by the people, and parental control over their children's education is not delegated to them by the state. In fact, state control over any child's education is delegated to it by their parents, and by the people of the United States (in spite of Ms. Yuracko's contention).

What concerns me, though, is whether the people of the United States today are willing to give up their freedoms for the sake of creating the "tolerant," "free" society they think they want. Far too many people in America are easily led wherever the national media wants them to go. They believe what they see on television or read in the paper, without stopping to consider whether those things are true or what the ultimate consequences of those beliefs will be. The state can have only the powers granted it by the people, but if the people grant it power to restrict their freedom, then it has that power until the people as a whole rise up to stop it.

If we are not careful to preserve our freedom, we may lose it, and we will certainly lose much that we hold dear.


Dana said...

I couldn't agree more! That is why that argument (if you can call it that) of "It's for the children" disturbs me so much. When it is for children, all common sense seems to go out the window.

Marcy Muser said...

Dana: No kidding! My husband is a county social worker, and he often says, "It's for the children," in a very sarcastic tone of voice. "For the children" usually really means, "This is a cause we can twist to make it seem like it will benefit children in order to advance our own liberal agenda." What really benefits children goes by the wayside.

You can tell this by looking at what people who claim to be "for the children" think about homeschooling. In spite of the research; in spite of the obvious benefits of homeschooling; in spite of the many kids now visible in society who are and have been successfully homeschooled; there is hardly anyone who claims to be "for the children" who supports homeschooling - because it doesn't fit their agenda.

If they were really looking at the benefits to children, they would be the first clamoring for private schooling, vouchers, and homeschooling.