Leave the home-schooler alone

Recently, a German family fled their homeland for America because of persecution for choosing to home-school their children.In Germany, all children must attend public school or pay a fine.In this particular case, the children were forcibly taken to school on one occasion.

Although the right to home-school currently is protected in the U.S., the federal government has revoked its asylum grant to the German family essentially on the grounds that home-schooling is not a legitimate parental right. The family has appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which will hear oral arguments on April 23.

This is a frightening prospect. Once a government decides it has the unabated right to regulate what children are taught and who can teach it, one must seriously question whether all personal liberty is at risk.

Some parents, such as mine and the Romeike family from Germany, chose to home-school, because they felt that public school curriculum did not align with the values they wanted to encourage in their children.

At a young age, children’s minds and thoughts are formed by the ideas and images that they receive from their superiors.

Perhaps some will say that parents are holding their children back or harming their future by failing to give them the traditional schooling experience. This may in fact be true, that a child misses out on certain experiences, such as food fights, at the expense of parental preference.

As a youngster, growing up a home-schooler had its perks.I never missed a Mr. Rogers episode.I could take study breaks to build Lego sets.I played basketball with my imaginary dream team instead of the bullies at recess.

Before anyone freaks out, I did receive some “formal” schooling — if by “formal” you mean a Great Books charter school, where I took Latin and Greek and read Aristotle and Aquinas.

The truth of the matter is that the education I received up until my college years would be considered atypical by most.I get the occasional, “you must be sheltered” jab, but to tell you the truth, I’m OK with that.

I’m thankful my parents chose to raise me the way they did, by instilling within me values and virtues they thought were best.My Great Books education helped shape the way I look at the world by urging me to ask the questions that shape our universe.

I’m thankful for the study habits and the love of learning I acquired as a result of my upbringing.Does this mean that those who did not receive the same upbringing do not have the same or even better habits?Not at all.

My parents saw it in my best interest to home-school me instead of sending me to the local elementary school.Has that hurt me at all?I don’t feel like I missed out on too much.

Parents have the right to decide how they want to raise their child and unless parents inflict harm on the child, the state has no right to interfere with the natural rights of parenthood.

If we want to preserve the belief that liberty is an immutable right, we will refuse to allow that right to be trampled in favor of paternalistic propaganda.

 

Reach the columnist at mrrich2@asu.edu or follow him at @cshmneyrichard

 


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