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SOMETHING TO KEEP IN MIND

Filed at 9:22 am under by dcobranchi

Tim Haas keeps hitting home runs. Here’s his letter to a NJ listserv:

On page 5A of the Courier-Post this morning, there are two sidebars about homeschooling in which I’m quoted. Here they are so that you don’t have to buy the paper:

http://www.courierpostonline.com/news/southjersey/m102803f.htm
http://www.courierpostonline.com/news/southjersey/m102803g.htm

They’re not the kind of headlines we like to see: “Home-schooled boys fell through cracks” and “N.J. has little oversight of home-schooled pupils”. But remember that the main story — the one with the 60-point headline on the front page — is all about DYFS, and in fact doesn’t mention homeschooling at all.

This is an emotional time, and friends and strangers alike might feel emboldened to challenge you about homeschooling. If you get questioned about this case, there are a number of good responses:

* This isn’t a homeschooling tragedy, it’s a social services tragedy. There were 38 DYFS visits to this home over a four-year period. How would registering these children with the district have done a better job of protecting them than repeated on-site visits from an agency whose sole task is children’s welfare?

* These parents weren’t using homeschooling as an excuse to hide these kids from the world and abuse them — the whole family attended church nearly every Sunday and some neighbors report seeing the kids outside.

* There are eight other states with laws like New Jersey’s, including populous ones like Texas and Illinois. Where’s the evidence that a lack of oversight is harming children? Where’s the evidence from the 41 other states that have varying degrees of oversight that there’s a trend of homeschooler abuse?

* “If it will save just one child …” arguments are poor supports for public policy. Random DYFS visits to the houses of all parents would probably turn up neglected and abused children, but would we want that? Banning cars would eliminate fatal auto accidents, but would we want that?

* There were other adults in this house besides the parents — why did they abrogate their responsibility to notify someone of these horrible conditions?

* If there are any regulations rewritten or laws passed, they should be the ones dealing with DYFS’s lack of follow-up with children once they’re adopted.

The key is not to get defensive about homeschooling. Homeschooling is not at fault here, and we shouldn’t act as if it is. We have to remain calm while the emotionalism burns itself out, and then deal with regulatory repercussions if they manifest.

Tim Haas
NJHA

4 Responses to “SOMETHING TO KEEP IN MIND”


Comment by
Traci
October 28th, 2003
at 12:53 pm

GO TIM GO!!! I’ve gone to the Post/Courier website & read the many, many articles that go with this story… While tragic it’s clear that child services are at fault here not homeschooling.
I see NJ being compared to PA & NY & not DE for homeschool regs. Thanks for being a strong neighbor in protecting homeschool freedom. It’s good for our states to have a back up border state that’s more homeschool friendly as we’ve seen that sometimes state legislatures get the copy cat idea when it comes to laws & programs.
Thanks for being a such a strong advocate for homeschooling!!! Best of luck to you & I hope it doesn’t become a long haul till this mess is over.
I saw this story on MSNBC this morning & didn’t hear the homeschool angle mentioned.


Comment by
Tim Haas
October 28th, 2003
at 1:36 pm

Aw, shucks, Traci, I’m just here to help the ballclub. Thanks for your kind words.


Comment by
Daryl
October 28th, 2003
at 1:52 pm

I saw this story on MSNBC this morning & didn’t hear the homeschool angle mentioned.

Ditto “Today”. Matt Lauer interviewed the head investigator who was just livid with DYS. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a government official that angry. No homeschooling mentions.


Comment by
Markus Rose
October 29th, 2003
at 2:41 pm

Just found your website. Interested in the New Jersey case and the impact it will have on the homeschooling movement. I am not a strong partisan on either side, but I can understand why people want to homeschool and I know that mostly it is done out of love. My question is, what is a legitimate amount of oversight for the state to exercise over homeschooled children? Shouldn’t homeschooled children be required to have yearly medical examinations? What if the Jacksons had NOT been in the foster care system, what if the abuse charges were correct, and they were just an ordinary family. Why would homeschooling families with nothing to hide have any objection to demonstrating that they are taking good care of their homeschooled children? Children are not property!