Thursday, May 1, 2008

New Answer to an Old Question

...the Act of 1922 (which mandated almost universal public school attendance in Oregon - ed.) unreasonably interferes with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control. As often heretofore pointed out, rights guaranteed by the Constitution may not be abridged by legislation which has no reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the state. The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.


Children are not the mere creature[s] of the state. Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, US Supreme Court, 1925
Schools cannot be expected to accommodate the personal, moral or religious concerns of every parent. Such an obligation would not only contravene the educational mission of the public schools, but also would be impossible to satisfy.

Brown v. Hot, Sexy & Safe Products, Inc., 1st District Court of Appeals, 1995
parents “do not have a fundamental [due process] right generally to direct how a public school
teaches their child.”

“In sum, we affirm that the Meyer-Pierce due process right of parents
to make decisions regarding their children’s education does
not entitle individual parents to enjoin school boards from
providing information the boards determine to be appropriate
in connection with the performance of their educational functions,
or to collect monetary damages based on the information
the schools provide.”
Fields v. Palmdale School District, 9th District Court of Appeals, 2007

Parents decide whether to send their children to public schools. (Cf. Hamilton v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 293 U. S. 245, 262 (1934) (“California has not drafted or called them to attend the university. They are seeking education offered by the State and at the same time insisting that they be excluded from the prescribed course . . .”); id., at 266 (Cardozo, J., concurring). If parents do not like the rules imposed by those schools, they can seek redress in school boards or legislatures; they can send their children to private schools or home school them; or they can simply move.
Morse vs. Frederick, US Supreme Court, 2007

So...they don't have the right to force US children into government schools, but, once children are there, they have the right to teach them as they please?

I can understand that meeting the desires of individual families would be nearly impossible. The recent furor over Muslim prayer time in a San Diego public school is evidence of that.

But Justice Clarence Thomas, writing in Morse vs. Frederick (the "Bong Hits for Jesus case), has it wrong on many levels. Most parents don't 'decide' to send their kids to public schools. It is (or appears to be) the only option open to them. Many families don't have the resources to send their kids to a private school and pay taxes at the same time. They don't have the choice of which public school their child attends. They often don't have charter schools or other alternatives. They may not know that they could homeschool, or may be unsuited for the role of homeschooling parent.

It's nearly impossible to "seek redress in school boards or legislatures" when so much now comes from on high, from the federal bureaucracy which delights on piling rule on rule and law on law, and not in listening to parents or even teachers, and any changes would take so long to effect that the children whose minds are in the balance might be graduating from college by the time the case is decided.
The part about 'simply' moving is so out of touch with reality that I will let the reader make derisive comments on his or her own.

The one good thing about Morse vs. Frederick is that it places homeschooling in the USA on par with public and private schooling with the phrase, " they can send their children to private schools or home school them". That's right: the Supreme Court has, in this decision, specifically named home education as a legitimate educational option. We may, like private school attendees, have to 'pay repeatedly' by forking over our state's choice of educational funding, whatever massive sums the Feds throw at education, any other stray taxes that find their way into the kitty, plus our own tightly-stretched educational budget, but we now have a Supreme Court document to bring up that plainly answers the eternal question:

"Is homeschooling legal?"
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