This is the kind of thing, I imagine, that turns people into right-wing lunatics. Walking the dog today I saw the front page headline of the San Francico Chronicle, “Homeschoolers suffer setback: Appeals court rules parents who teach children at home must be credentialed.” Uh-oh. Our daughter is only a year and a half old so we’ve got a few years before we have to officially decide whether we’re going to home school but that’s the current plan.
Except that all the sudden that may no longer be an option unless this appeals court ruling is overturned, the legislature defies the teachers unions and changes the state’s education laws to specifically allow home schooling by uncredentialed parent-teachers, or we leave the state. Equally suddenly, I’m on the side of the right-wingers ranting about judges legislating from the bench and the nanny state trying to take over our lives. Heck, suddenly James Dobson of Focus on Family, who spent his radio show today decrying the ruling, is my ally.
We are not religous so that’s not our motivation for wanting to home school, but we are not really all that different from the homeschoolers who are. While we don’t object to the secularism of public schools—that’s one of their good points as far as I’m concerned—we object to other parts of mainstream culture: the relentless consumerism, the regimentation of academic instruction, and the emphasis on competition and working for extrinsic rewards. I’m sympathetic to the need for society (i.e. the state) to look out for the welfare of kids whose parents aren’t taking proper care of them. But to have the state tell me I have to send my daughter to the schools the state has approved and to be taught only in the way the state thinks is best makes me start thinking about holing up in a compound somewhere with too many guns and a couple years worth of canned food in the root cellar.
The quote from the Chronicle story that really killed me was from Leslie Heimov, the executive director of the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles. She said her organization was mostly concerned that children be “in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety.” Uh, wouldn’t parents have a duty to ensure the safety of their children. To say nothing of looking after their education and moral development. Hmmm, I really must be turning into a crazy right-wing nutjob.