Educational Freedom for Everyone

There’s a dream

Why is it just a dream?  Because there is not educational (learning) freedom in this great country. Until compulsory attendance laws are gone, I doubt there will be.  Some Americans are disturbed that Swedish homeschooling families are losing their right to educate their children at home.  What a depressing notion turning into a reality, that children can and will be taken from their homes because they’re learning at home with their families. 

In Sweden – a country oft considered a progressive’s dream- and Germany, families were torn apart when their homeschooled children were forced from their homes.  But here in the US, states such as Pennsylvania and New York bear down on homeschoolers with oppressive rules, regulations and bureaucratic paperwork having little and nothing to do with learning. 

Many homeschool freedom fighters have gained insights about overall freedom of choice and lifestyles, while having to constantly fight to keep homeschoolers free.  Education, or lack of it, is key.  Massachusetts’ homeschooler, Pat Farenga, got this right when responding to Swedish governmental crackdowns:

Individual freedom and freedom of choice are deeply entwined in educational issues. A mandatory selection of prepackaged commodities provided by the government is hardly a free choice. It is about educational freedom for every Swede, not just 100 families who home school."          Pat Farenga, President of Holt Associates Inc.

This Swedish problem erupted around a seven year old boy by the name of Dominic.  Homeschooling was determined to be so socially unacceptable in Sweden that not only was he ripped from his parents’ loving care into government hands, but the Swedish government proceeded to inflict further sanctions on all Swedish homeschoolers.  Read Herbert London’s article: Sweden a Perfect Example of Socialism Run Amok, to understand the importance of what many in the US would describe as important school "socialization ".  Sweden wants to be sure all understand their determination of "fundamental societal values".  It is technically illegal to homeschool in Sweden now. Dominic’s parents can see him every 5 weeks for one hour. 

Because he was homeschooled.

Here in Illinois, while many homeschoolers sleep with the notion that someone else is taking care of their freedoms; Regional Offices of Education, the Illinois State Board of Education and local school districts chip, chip, chip away at our freedoms.  For instance, daytime curfews are pursued around the state with the intent of forcing homeschoolers to submit to reporting and registering with the governmental entity.  In rare cases, such as in Salem, homeschoolers and other freedom fighters have defeated Regional Offices’ of Education pursuit to register and track homeschoolers. 

Let’s be clear; there’s no valid reason to track homeschoolers.  Public schools have enough problems on their watch where adding private schools makes no sense.  Editor-in-chief of The Rational Argumentator, Gennady Stolyarov II, offers a profoundly legitimate explanation to the absurdness of school rules and boundaries in his article: The Anti-Educational Effects of Public Schools.  Even as that school prison guard oppressiveness is creeping into our communities’ streets and stores.


The regularity with which the petty rules in my school were flouted taught me the superiority of internal discipline over external discipline based on myriad prohibitions and mandates. Under the onus of too many arbitrary, minute, and burdensome impositions, many people begin simply to ignore them, until they become unenforceable. This creates a problem, however, for maintaining desirable and necessary norms — such as prohibitions against aggression, theft, and vandalism. Once the irrational, punitive norms delegitimize all norms in the eyes of many, even the natural laws, which make all societal cooperation possible, are not immune from the resulting reaction.

Stolyarov’s antidote to schools was the freedom and usefulness of the internet; part of his real learning during his high school years:

My readings of philosophy, economics, and political theory as written by some of the greatest minds of all time gave me an invaluable store of knowledge and analytical skills that propel me forward to this day. It was during the internet explorations of my high-school years that I discovered John Locke, Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, and Murray Rothbard, among many others. The amazing flowering of free knowledge online is the surest antidote to the stultifying environment of the public schools, and I truly envy those who, as children and young adults, have the opportunity to fully ground their learning in these resources.

Homeschooling is one of the last educational freedoms still standing in the country and the World Wide Web is a well used means to gain deep learning.  Open courses available via MIT being just one example.  

That daytime curfew issue, universal preschool, and Zero to Five programs, mental health screenings of all children and women along with other bureaucratic hunts should give alarm to homeschooling families that can be caught up in those ugly nets.  But instead, in Illinois we hear that homeschoolers should only march to homeschool leaders’ drumbeat.  That drum must have been washed out by the big, brass, bureaucratic band.  We can only hope that homeschoolers start paying attention to their own rights and responsibilities and not hand the power of protective self-sufficiency over to those who shrug their shoulders with inattentiveness.

Beyond that, here is a hopeful dream from Stolyarov that would do away with those time eaters made traveling to state capitols and such.

I continue to entertain the hope that even one of the states will find it necessary to institute deep cuts to public schools and that, under financial pressures, some of the worst elements of those schools will be the ones to go. Then we would find that the level of general education would not decline; indeed, it would increase.  

The individualism and internal discipline needed for true, focused learning would naturally emerge as some people pursue their academic interests while others — if compulsory school attendance laws are repealed — would try to get an early start in the business world. The morass of today’s teenage subculture would largely disappear, as young people’s interactions would become more embedded in the broader society, rather than mired in the largely short-term and superficial concerns of their peers.

Let’s do away with compulsory attendance laws.  I don’t pretend that homeschoolers are a perfect bunch in educating their children.  I’m certainly not.  But being exempt from the Illinois compulsory attendance statute has certainly freed up our time to follow educational pursuits and passions with joy.  All should have that fundamental right.  Including those disillusioned teens that become school discipline problems because they stepped out of the single file, standardized line.  There’s some genius lurking underneath that school net.  We need some of that brilliance shining again in our country.  We need it now.

Homeschooling as a Jr Zookeeper

Homeschooling and Jr. Zookeeping in the Goat Barn


Comments

Educational Freedom for Everyone — 4 Comments

  1. This is one of the best blog posts I’ve read lately! I am very much aware, as you are, that our freedom is slowly being taken away in the U.S., and it scares me tremendously. I am very passionate about liberty and homeschooling and minimal government interference in our lives. I would be happy with a government that simply protects our freedom and protects us from force by others, but it is the government that is taking away our freedom and using brute force to control us. I guess I should be happy we don’t live in Sweden or Germany (I so feel for those citizens who cannot homeschool), but I can see that we may be on a similar path. Check out what happened here in California a couple years ago: http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-03-07/news/17170360_1_appeals-court-credential-parents. The judge’s words remind me of the Swedish view stated in your post: “Sweden wants to be sure all understand their determination of ‘fundamental societal values’.”

    Here is a frightening section of the above article:

    “California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. “Parents have a legal duty to see to their children’s schooling under the provisions of these laws.”

    Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.

    “A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare,” the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.

    Union pleased with ruling
    The ruling was applauded by a director for the state’s largest teachers union.

    “We’re happy,” said Lloyd Porter, who is on the California Teachers Association board of directors. “We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting.”

    [Reply]

  2. Thanks for the compliment, Kim!

    Thank goodness the California homeschoolers got that situation straightened out. Croskey definitely revealed a little light on an ugly mindset with that quote you highlighted.
    We’ll just have to keep plugging away.

    [Reply]

  3. Pingback: Roscommon Acres » Blog Archive » Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling, Independence Day edition!

  4. Pingback: Educational Freedom - Home Education Magazine News & Commentary

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