“In the 1983 Bob Jones University case, the court ruled that a school could lose tax-exempt status if its policies violated “fundamental national public policy.” So far, the Bob Jones reasoning hasn’t been extended to other kinds of discrimination, but someday it could be….It’s time to abolish, or greatly diminish, their tax-exempt statuses“–Oppenheimer, “Beliefs” columnist for The New York Times.
While the underground battle against churches and synagogues has been quietly moving forward, it more than likely will not end there. This year, we have seen how this tact has been used same-sex marriage to put religious business owners under the thumb of government for not violating their religious principles by serving same-sex weddings. Eventually, this will extend to religious schools, which, after all, operate as businesses. Those religious schools will be denied non-profit status. Their accreditation will be reviewed if they refuse to teach the prevailing morality.
And that crusade will extend to homeschooling. Parents that decide that they don’t want to send their children to a school to be institutionalized and indoctrinated, would like to exercise the option of homeschooling. Opponents will suggest that all homeschooling programs must be accredited, too, and accreditation will be rejected for programs that fail to comply with the National Education Association’s position on homeschooling already, which is, according to their 2014-2015 Resolutions:
The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Homeschooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.
Then, when parents refuse to comply, well, what? It’s a convenient way of utilizing government-approved education as a proxy for shutting down religious parenting. We now live in a country in which the Department of Education, dedicated to teaching children, displays a gay pride flag on its Facebook page. To believe they will not exert their authority over those who disagree is to demonstrate a profound ignorance of the nature of executive government.
Writing on the Wall
Currently in the Maryland House – is Bill 1798, titled “County Boards of Education – Home Instruction Program – Observation of Instruction and Reporting of Abuse and Neglect.” The synopsis reads:
Requiring the parent or guardian of a certain student to submit certain information to the county board of education before the student begins a home instruction program; requiring the parent or guardian of a student in a home instruction program to allow a representative of the county board to observe instruction of the home instruction program; requiring a representative of a county board to notify certain agencies if the representative has reason to believe a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect; etc.
Basically what the bill does is put homeschooling instruction under the auspices of the county Board of Education. It would force homeschoolers to home inspections on demand and be judged by a government official as to the quality of instruction be provided to the child. Like Joseph K, the parent that homeschools their child begins from a suspicion of guilt and must prove their own innocence to have the right to homeschool. And it would also provide additional opportunities for the state to interfere with the instruction that homeschooled kids receive, which is often religious-based education that students would never receive in public schools.
This bill is being championed by the Maryland State Education Association, which asserts, “There is evidence that a number of home-school students are registering with the online schools, which then brings them under the umbrella of state education policies.”
In addition, as assessments and education materials align to the new Common Core State Standards, they could, to some degree, affect what is being taught in the home. Along with virtual charter schools, more homeschoolers could be forced into public education without direct legislative action.
In West Virginia, failed Bill SB 528 would have prohibited homeschooling and order CPS investigations for children who had ten or more absences without an acceptable excuse. The Bill is a bipartisan effort proposed by West Virginia Senate Education Chair Kenneth Mann (R-Monroe, 10) and Democratic senators Michael Romano and Ron Stollings. SB 528’s summary says, “The purpose of this bill is to establish a process for providing that a student is not eligible for either home instruction exemption once certain truancy-related legal proceedings begin or after a conviction.”
California’s AB 2756
While this bill died on the floor, it could be considered a shot across the bow for homeschooling.
Authored by Democrat Assemblymember Jose Medina from the Riverside area, AB 2756 originally demanded all homeschool families in California submit to involuntary home inspections. According to the author, the bill was motivated by a horrific child abuse case in his district involving a homeschool family. “I am extremely concerned about the lack of oversight the State of California currently has in monitoring private and home schools,” said Assemblyman Jose Medina was quoted as saying, despite the fact, there are no statistics indicating child abuse rates being higher in homeschooling families.
Yet, after a massive outcry from the homeschooling community, Assemblymember Medina removed the inspection requirement, changing it to merely a bill that would identify the name and address of every homeschooling family in California.
But with no justifiable reason the state needed this information, California’s homeschooling families still viewed AB 2756 with suspicion and as a prelude to the government meddling with their right to educate their children in a manner they determined.
The early defeat of anti-homeschooling bills may seem like a victory, however, a feeling of security should not follow. It will be short-lived. Opponents are patient, and with Democrats poised to take the House this fall, the onslaught will continue until morale improves.