Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Homeschoolers Worldwide - for Ron Paul?

Homeschooling and the right of individual families to raise their children according to their own lights is presupposed in the constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a right whose champion is Ron Paul. The following notes suggest that homeschooling is on the rise. These notes are intended also to point to the interconnectedness of the homeschool movement worldwide as well as to the importance of supporting Ron Paul, so he can in turn support the homeschool movement.

Homeschooling Worldwide – For Ron Paul?

Worldwide, homeschoolers should be supporting Ron Paul. Why should they? Well, because homeschoolers worldwide are basically facing the same issue, the issue of liberty.

Homeschooling is an international concern, even though my Microsoft Word spellcheck still won’t accept the word. Only 200 years ago, homeschooling was the norm throughout the western world, not to speak of the worlds beyond the “West.” Homeschooling in those days would be typically followed by apprenticeships or professional activity, or the continuation of productivity within the home.

Increasingly, government schools became an option. Today, the idea of government schooling has become associated with modernity and modernity with literacy and literacy with democracy. Government schooling is called “public education” in America, the underlying assumption being that this is education by the public and for the public, and that diversity consequently thrives under its wing. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The terms “government schooling” and “state-mandated compulsory schooling” are much more precise. Government schools are no longer an option: they are compulsory.

In addition, the connections between government schooling and democracy, literacy and modernity are tenuous, or even arbitrary. Both literacy and democracy can thrive and flourish without government schooling. Neither literacy nor democracy depends on schooling, and, going a bit further, I would say truthfully that government schooling, as it is presently organized, usually suppresses or even suffocates the seeds of democracy and the vital spirit that leads to active citizenship. The underlying goal of compulsory schooling is not to raise a citizen, but to eradicate the local, the ethnic, the national, the religious individual, to eliminate the bonding to family and community which underlies citizenship.

So what does all this have to do with Ron Paul? It has to do with the fact that homeschooling raises the fundamental issues that unite homeschooling families worldwide of any and all religions and persuasions: namely, the issue of liberty, the freedom to raise one’s own family according to one’s own lights, regardless of religious persuasion or cultural or ethnic background. It is impossible to erase the underlying reality that people are mammals; mammals raise their young in families and organize their affairs largely on the basis of deep and ineradicable intuitions, often with the aid of mothers; families, in turn, thrive in communities, and communities often find their strength in deities. This is true everywhere. The only question is how political, religious, or other self-appointed authorities can arrange to accommodate themselves to this fact.

In view of the tremendous amount of communication at work in our highly interconnected world, what generalizations can be made about homeschooling worldwide?

On the surface, it looks bad. German homeschooling families have recently been the object of special attention. Homeschoolers in Germany have been taken into custody or subjected to crippling fines, and some have lost of custody of their children. In August of 2006 a Baptist mother of 12 (!) was arrested for homeschooling, while her husband took the children and went to Austria., based on information from The Brussels Journal- http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1330. In another recent case, fathers of several German Baptist homeschooling children were held in coercive detention, and pressure was brought to bear on them for years; ultimately, they were permitted to form a private school. A 15 yr. old homeschooler (Melissa Busekros) was taken into the custody of the JugendAmt (Youth Office) in February of this year, although she was ultimately released, no psychological damage having been found as a result of homeschooling. Belgium was in the news in 2006 for harassing a prominent Belgian journalist and his wife, a member of the Belgian Federal Parliament, for homeschooling their children. Outside of Europe, the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa has also been the focus of attention for its repudiation of homeschooling. In sum, public attention has been drawn to the fact that the freedom to homeschool one’s own children is threatened. There are governments in Europe, but elsewhere as well, who consider it their right and duty to impose compulsory school attendance on children.

Much publicity has been devoted to these cases, and the publicity has been fanned by the Home School Legal Defense Association, under the direction of Mike Farris, and the WorldNet Daily, under the direction of Joseph Farah. These two organizations, sometimes in tandem, issue frequent urgent reports regarding the repression of homeschoolers. (See, for example, WorldNet Daily’s report referring to “Police state. Germany” at http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=56946) WND has publicly condemned the harassment of homeschoolers with and without religious persuasion in Germany, for example.

While this type of publicity probably has benefits in terms of making people aware of specific instances of repression of homeschoolers, it appears to be much more confusing when it comes to providing guidance on what to do about it. The above-cited WND article opens by advising readers, for example, that “continuing legal challenges won’t work,” (according to an unidentified expert). Says who? Since when do “continuing legal challenges” of any kind not work? Whereas it is implied that Farris may be the expert who thinks legal challenges won’t work, he is later quoted as saying: "To win, a legislative solution is needed. And in order to convince a German legislative body to change the law in favor of homeschooling, public opinion in Germany will have to be changed." Mike Farris and the HSLDA provide a significant stream of advice on how, where, when and why to pose political or legal challenges to repression of homeschoolers and/or when to back down and hold off with the letter-writing, and when to just “pray” for a government to change its mind. Meanwhile, Mike Farris publicly condemns the United Nations Rights of the Child Convention, which he claims poses a threat to the rights of parents to homeschool their children. However, the United Nations also publicly condemns Germany for its repression of homeschoolers.

The result is that if homeschoolers look to the HSLDA or the WorldNet Daily or even the United Nations for their political marching orders, they will be in a more or less constant state of confusion. The case of H.R. 6, in which Mike Farris stirred up large numbers of homeschoolers to a campaign of political action regarding an issue that ultimately would not have affected them, resulting in over-reaction, is a case in point.


An additional problem with the above-cited ongoing publicity is that it could lead one to suppose that, as suggested above: “continuing legal challenges won’t work.” Underlying this supposition is the idea that repression is growing, unfortunate as we may feel it is, but that realities are realities, and we in the United States may end up having to be glad with what we have, even if it means increasing legal restrictions on homeschooling in the United States. In other words, whoever you want to believe, and whoever you want to take your marching orders from, the ongoing publicity on the part of WND and the HSLDA suggests that homeschoolers face a dim future.

Some careful research shows us a different picture. First of all, some of the repression, in Germany and elsewhere, as well as some of the increasing anti-homeschooling legislation in the U.S., are actually due in part to the simple fact that homeschooling is on the rise:

1. more and more parents want to homeschool;

2. more and more parents worldwide are homeschooling and are availing themselves of a multiplicity of homeschooling organizations to support them;

3. more and more publicity is appearing about the benefits of homeschooling, the possibilities of homeschooling, and the disadvantages of compulsory state education;

4. more and more legislative action is being successfully undertaken throughout the world to support the needs of homeschoolers; and finally,

5. a number of significant cases of repression are due to the fact that parents, empowered by the publicity and the international connectedness offered by e-mail and blogging (not to speak of text-messaging) have simply decided not to knuckle under any more, but rather to go public with their situations: the Neubronners have been quoted as saying that they have decided not to pay the exorbitant fine, not only because it is exorbitant, but also as a challenge to the very idea that they should be fined at all.

In other words, one significant cause of the recent repression is exactly the fact that homeschooling is on the rise. Parents worldwide no longer trust compulsory state-mandated schooling. By way of a few examples, in 2004, the Shanghai Star published an article pointing to the rise of interest in home schooling and the existence of a Shanghai homeschooling organization. Meanwhile, according to reports in a homeschool blog (http://hsblog.org/index.php/category/homeschool-legislation/) earlier this year (2007), the Czech ministry is now allowing 6th to 9th grade students to homeschool. In Alabama, legislation has been considered to enable homeschooled students to take part in public school activities, which would pave the way for an a la carte approach to schooling, as well as allow for mutual influence of public schooling and home schooling. In Nevada, for one example, and in Scotland, legislation has been considered that would make it easier to homeschool. These are just a few among many examples.

I would summarize my thoughts about Ron Paul and worldwide homeschooling as follows:

· homeschooling is on the rise, not on the wane;

· legal challenges may or may not work, but they may be valid and necessary approaches;

· to decide whether or not to undertake a particular legal challenge, one should depend on one’s own research, and one should not allow oneself to be overly influenced, panicked or driven by any particular call to action;

· the issue in the resistance to compulsory schooling is liberty -- freedom from government intervention is Ron Paul’s platform -- so work, donate, and vote for Ron Paul!

November 21, 2007

5 comments:

Jim said...

Great article Robin. I got to talk to a Dutch father last year. He has wanted to homeschool due to the mistreatment of his child in school, but is not allowed to. It brought tears to my eyes.

Robin said...

Thank you very much for your comment, Jim!! Yes, there seem to be a lot of restrictions on homeschooling in Europe.

David said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07TVBLFroSM
is a video of how Ron Paul is inspiring people worldwide to rise up. Also look at the meetups worldwide http://ronpaul.meetup.com/about/ supporting Ron Paul. Compare with mike. http://mikehuckabee.meetup.com/about/

scatty said...

I agree with you that the strong repression against home educators in Germany is a backlash. There have been several positive media reports about this topic, which is a total turnaround from the past. I think this is causing the authorities to dig their heels in, especially in cases like that of the Neubronners.

defenderofliberty said...

Greetings from another home schooler for Ron Paul. Keep up the good work!