In the interest of full disclosure, I admit a bias. My two sons are home schooled and no government employee of any kind (including tyrants in black robes) could ever force me to send my children to a government school. That is not empty rhetoric so I hope that it never comes to a showdown.
The truth is that this story is not as completely cut and dry as it could be if some judge simply decided to order someone’s kids into public school out of the blue. In this case the the parents are divorcing and the father does not want the children to continue to be home schooled by the mother and he has made that a part of the divorce proceedings. Interestingly, in most cases the father does not end up with the same rights and “say-so” as the mother but this is likely a case where the judge’s ideology with respect to home schooling lined up with that of the father.
Bridgett blogged about this over at Don’t Get Me Started and reminded me that I meant to comment on this story.
World Net Daily is one of several outlets reporting this story and I will quote from their story:
A North Carolina judge has ordered three children to attend public schools this fall because the homeschooling their mother has provided over the last four years needs to be “challenged.”
The children, however, have tested above their grade levels – by as much as two years.
So the children test two grade levels above their age. That would seem to be a positive statement about the results of their mother’s instruction; a ringing endorsement of her teaching. Given that fact one would assume that it should take some truly compelling special circumstances to cause the judge to make a change to their seemingly successful current education situation. Sure, the father’s wishes are important but if the present approach is working then his wishes should not necessarily outweigh those of the mother.
The judge, when contacted by WND, explained his goal in ordering the children to register and attend a public school was to make sure they have a “more well-rounded education.”
“I thought Ms. Mills had done a good job [in homeschooling],” he said. “It was great for them to have that access, and [I had] no problems with homeschooling. I said public schooling would be a good complement.”
The judge said the husband has not been supportive of his wife’s homeschooling, and “it accomplished its purposes. It now was appropriate to have them back in public school.”
So this judge just likes the idea of public schooling and arbitrarily thinks that sending the children to a government school would be a “good complement”.
family friend Robyn Williams said Mangum stated his decision was not ideologically or religiously motivated but that ordering the children into public schools would “challenge the ideas you’ve taught them.”
Williams, a homeschool mother of four herself, said, “I have never seen such injustice and such a direct attack against homeschool.”
“This judge clearly took personal issue with Venessa’s stance on education and faith, even though her children are doing great. If her right to homeschool can be taken away so easily, what will this mean for homeschoolers state wide, or even nationally?” Williams asked.
This sounds like a judge who does not like home schooling, or a judge who is biased against the mother’s religious beliefs. The story continues, seeming to support this theory:
According to Williams’ website, the judge also ordered a mental health evaluation for the mother – but not the father – as part of the divorce proceedings, in what Williams described as an attack on the “mother’s conservative Christian beliefs.”
According to a proposed but as-yet unsigned order submitted by the father’s to Mangum, “The children have thrived in homeschool for the past four years, but need the broader focus and socialization available to them in public school. The Court finds that it is in the children’s best interest to continue their homeschooling through the end of the current school year, but to begin attending public school at the beginning of the 2009-2010 instructional year.”
So mental testing for the mother but not for the father? Hmmmmm. When we get into the judge’s stated defense of his position, we get around to the S-word:
The order also stated, “Defendant believes that plaintiff is a nurturing mother who loves the children. Defendant believes that plaintiff has done a good job with the homeschooling of the children, although he does not believe that continued homeschooling is in the best interest of the children.”
The website said the judge also said public school would “prepare these kids for the real world and college” and allow them “socialization.”
I will quote one of my best friends (and the only other secular home schooler that I know) as he has a fantastic analogy on the S-word: “Socialization is to public schools as nutrition is to McDonald’s”. Think about that one for a bit.
The bottom line for me in this case is this: when two parents are in disagreement as to how to school their children any mandated change to their current schooling approach should require a very good reason, not just some judge’s gut feeling about what would be best for the children based upon some institutional biases that he holds (the same institutional biases held by most of you reading this, in all honesty). The idea that people hand their kids over to government, which does every single thing poorly compared to the private sector, and let them dictate their education is utterly ludicrous to me.
I am going to sound like a pseudo-intellectual snob here, but the vast majority of the public school teachers that I have met in my life are riding the crest of the Bell Curve and have no business teaching anyone anything. Go look at notes written by your kids’ teachers and note how often, for example, they confuse there, their, and they’re or your and you’re. Typical government employees.
This judge is a tyrant in a black robe and has made a horrible decision. I expect it to be reversed.