Utterly Meaningless » Search Results » society of sisters
  • LADEN VS. SOCIETY OF SISTERS

    Filed on March 30, 2007 at 4:16 am under by dcobranchi

    Ryan Boots takes down Greg Laden.

    SPLITTING LEGAL HAIRS

    Filed on May 9, 2006 at 5:30 am under by dcobranchi

    Deborah Stevenson (NHELD) has a fairly long column up arguing that homeschooling was never illegal.

    Nothing makes me angrier than a lie, except when a lie is repeated so often that people believe it to be truth. I’m sick of lies, distorted truth, spin, and revisionist history. Can we just get back to reality? Can we just hold people accountable for their purposeful distortions?

    Can we just set the record straight?

    The lie that makes me the angriest is the lie that “It’s legal to homeschool “now.”” The implication in that statement is the lie. The implication is that it wasn’t legal to homeschool before, or that homeschooling only became legal in the past 20 years or so. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    It’s a nice concept, but I don’t buy it. Yes, no legislature ever passed a law that said parents couldn’t teach their children. That’d have been absurd, and under that strained definition of “homeschooling,” Stevenson would be correct. But that’s not the legal definition or understanding of homeschooling. Instead, in most states, it’s a way of satisfying the compulsory attendance statutes. So, sure, prior to the legal battles in the ’60s and ’70s, one could have homeschooled their kids. But they’d still have had to send them to a public or private school, too. In 1924 in Oregon it was the law that only public schools could satisfy the compulsory attendance requirement. Were private schools illegal, then? No, they were just redundant. Pierce v. Society of Sisters allowed that private schools could also serve to satisfy society’s demand for compelled education. It was only some 50 years (and numerous court battles) later that homeschooling was allowed that same legal status.

    Stevenson’s a lawyer, and I hope that I’m not trying to teach my grandmother to suck eggs. But, this one seems pretty clear to me. Until courts ruled that homeschools were equal to private schools in their ability to satisfy the compulsory attendance requirements, homeschooling was indeed “illegal” most everywhere. (via Izzy)

    WHAT PART OF “PRIVATE EDUCATION” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? II

    Filed on March 24, 2005 at 10:49 am under by dcobranchi

    Lawmakers in the Oregon Senate have introduced a bill to bring all private schools under the state DoE umbrella and force anyone paid to teach K-12 classes to have certification; home-ed co-ops would apparently fall under these rules as well. Here’s HSLDA’s take.

    Oregon, of course, was the state that tried to outlaw private education in the 1920s, an effort that resulted in the famous Pierce v. Society of Sisters Supreme Court decision. Plus ça change …

    SMACKDOWN!

    Filed on January 3, 2004 at 8:38 am under by dcobranchi

    Stanford Prof. Rob Reich is debating homeschooling attorney Dave Zitzkat on the topic of “The State’s Interest in the Child and Home Schooling.” I was originally expecting to participate but Dave Z wanted to keep it one on one. Here’s my response to Prof. Reich’s first post.

    So we have two questions to answer: what justifies government authority over the education of children, if anything? What justifies parental authority over the education of their own children?

    I’d like to re-frame Prof. Reich’s questions in terms of rights: Do parents have the right to exercise authority over their children’s education? Under what circumstances can the government interfere with that right? The Supreme Court has held in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U. S. 510 (1925), a case that was directly related to the education of children, that parents do, indeed, have this right under the U.S. Constitution:

    “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. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”

    So, parents are the rightful guardians of their children’s education. When, then, can government step in? This question was settled in another case before the Supreme Court, Wisconsin v. Yoder 406 U.S. 205 (1972), in which the Court held that “[t]he State’s interest in universal education is not totally free from a balancing process when it impinges on other fundamental rights, such as those specifically protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the traditional interest of parents with respect to the religious upbringing of their children.” What right could be more fundamental than the right to raise children as described in Pierce.

    Interestingly, Prof. Reich’s argument echoes the dissent by Justice Douglas, a dissent that was joined by no other justice:

    “It is the future of the student, not the future of the parents, that is imperiled by today’s decision. If a parent keeps his child out of school beyond the grade school, then the child will be forever barred from entry into the new and amazing world of diversity that we have today. The child may decide that that is the preferred course, or he may rebel. It is the student’s judgment, not his parents’, that is essential if we are to give full meaning to what we have said about the Bill of Rights and of the right of students to be masters of their own destiny. [citation omitted] If he is harnessed to the Amish way of life [citations omitted] by those in authority over him and if his education is truncated, his entire life may be stunted and deformed. The child, therefore, should be given an opportunity to be heard before the State gives the exemption which we honor today. “

    I think it is important to note that the children being discussed in Yoder were 17 years old, so they could reasonably be expected to express their own desires. Nowhere did Justice Douglas suggest that the government make the decision for them.

    So, parents have the right to direct their children’s education and the state cannot interfere absent a “compelling interest” and then only in the least restrictive manner. What, then, is the government’s interest in education? John Taylor Gatto has written that “[t]raditional forms of instruction in America, even before the Revolution, had three specific purposes:

    1. To make good people
    2. To make good citizens
    3. And to make each student find some particular talents to develop to the maximum. “

    Is there any evidence that homeschooling parents, even in their relatively unregulated current state, are failing to accomplish these three goals? The burden of proof falls on Prof. Reich and the government.

    HERE THEY COME!

    Filed on November 15, 2003 at 6:39 am under by dcobranchi

    The New York Times has issued (on the Editorial page) a call for increased regulation of homeschooling in states with “lax regulation.” Even worse:

    While parents have a right to decide how their children will be educated, the state most certainly has an obligation to ensure that every American child is learning basic skills. The schooling laws fly in the face of compulsory education statutes that have been on the books throughout this country since the early 20th century, not to mention the new national push to raise standards and improve student achievement.

    The state certainly does NOT have that obligation, nor the power. The state can compel attendance, not education. Otherwise, private schools could not exist. That issue was settled by Pierce v Society of Sisters (1925).

    This hands-off approach is especially problematic for disabled children, who are particularly vulnerable to neglect. The federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act requires the states to seek out disabled children to ensure that they get the services and education they need. Under the act, the children in New Jersey were clearly entitled to help. The shock over this case will cause New Jersey to revisit its home-schooling law. States with similar laws should do the same.

    Anyone homeschooling a “special needs” kid should keep their eyes open. < /rant>

    OK, I’m feeling better now. Homeschooling is not in any particular danger, despite the NYT’s call. Any new regulations will have to come through the states and we know how to fight those battles. If you’re not already involved in your state-wide inclusive organization, get involved (in Delaware that’s DHEA; in NJ, NJHA). Be prepared to contact your legislators or even to visit if necessary. It makes for a great civics lesson for all those kids we’re abusing and leaving ignorant.

    SLIGHTLY OT

    Filed on June 26, 2003 at 12:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    The SCOTUS has struck down the Texas sodomy law. Why is this only slightly off-topic? Justice Kennedy, in his majority opinion, cites the same case that homeschoolers use to back our right to homeschool, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U. S. 510 (1925). In fact, summarizing the opinion, he nearly quotes Pierce:

    The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government.

    Compare that with this from the 1925 decision:

    “The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”

    See? As I wrote in April, it’s all tied together in that right to privacy that Sen. Rick Santorum thinks doesn’t exist. Pretty amazing that Justice Kennedy cited the same case, huh?

    POINT- COUNTERPOINT Yesterday, Isabel

    Filed on April 24, 2003 at 2:43 am under by dcobranchi

    POINT- COUNTERPOINT Yesterday, Isabel Lyman briefly defended Rick Santorum. Today, Skip Oliva resolves that Santorum would just as soon scrap the Ninth Amendment.

    I’m with Skip on this one. Here’s a snippet of Justice Goldberg’s concurrence in Griswold v. Connecticut:

    To hold that a right so basic and fundamental and so deep-rooted in our society as the right of privacy in marriage may be infringed because that right is not guaranteed in so many words by the first eight amendments to the Constitution is to ignore the Ninth Amendment and to give it no effect whatsoever. Moreover, a judicial construction that this fundamental right is not protected by the Constitution because it is not mentioned in explicit terms by one of the first eight amendments or elsewhere in the Constitution would violate the Ninth Amendment.

    I think the Texas sodomy case (the one Santorum finds so troubling), is just a very small extension of this line of thought. What consenting adults do in their own bedrooms is their own business.

    UPDATE: Lest you think this is all OT- Santorum is a homeschooling dad. I’d like to ask him, “Is homeschooling a fundamental right or is it a privilege granted by the state?” I’d argue that it is a right. The Supreme Court in Pierce v. Society of Sisters held:

    [W]e think it entirely plain that the Act of 1922 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.

    But, where is this “liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control” written in the Constitution? It’s not. The implication is that this is one of the unenumerated rights in the Ninth Amendment. The same amendment that makes Santorum so uncomfortable.

    It’s all related. How many kids to have (Griswold). When to have them (Griswold). How to raise them (Pierce). All of these are private decisions that the government cannot regulate. They’re all founded in the right to privacy. The same right that Santorum thinks doesn’t exist. It seems a strange position for a homeschooling dad to take.

    SEND IT TO ZOOM!

    Filed on November 20, 2002 at 10:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    SEND IT TO ZOOM! The following editorial appeared in the Lebanon (PA) Daily News on 11/17. It was sent to me via email by a reader who has Lexis-Nexis access. As it is not available on the web, I have included the editorial in its entirety with my comments interspersed. Yes- it’s time for a fisking!

    Parents should have the right to homeschool their children.

    We believe that, as we believe generally speaking that individual rights and freedoms should not be trumped by unnecessary government rules and regulations – as long as the individual’s actions do not victimize or infringe upon the rights of another citizen.

    OK. So far; so good.

    And while we believe that Pennsylvania is correct to seek to ease its regulations for homeschoolers, we cannot fully support the legislation sponsored by state Rep. Samuel E. Rohrer, R-Pa.

    Oops.

    Rep. Rohrer’s legislation would very nearly eliminate all government oversight of homeschooling. Considering our opening premise, one might expect that we would view this as a good thing – favoring individual freedom over the state. We don’t, in this case. There’s too much chance of creating a victim.

    This is standard nanny-state lingo. "Irresponsible gun-owners might shoot someone. Irresponsible speech might hurt someone’s feelings. Irresponsible homeschoolers might victimize their kids with an inadequate education. To prevent all these hypotheticals, you good gun-owners (speakers, homeschoolers) shouldn’t mind a little preemptive regulation. We’re only going after the bad guys. This will hardly affect you."

    Under the proposal, homeschoolers would not need to keep student records, obtain year-end evaluations from a state-approved assessor or participate in standardized testing. They would only be required to carry out 180 days of instruction and teach certain subjects at certain grade levels to children of a given age.

    This places too much personal freedom into the hands of the parents, and does not do enough to protect the rights of the children. Therein lies our objection.

    It is, first and foremost, the parent’s responsibility to protect the rights of our children. We are responsible for their lives and liberty until they reach majority. The Supreme Court, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters held, "The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations." The state should not interfere unless parents abrogate those responsibilities.

    First of all, let us state that from our observation, most parents who choose to homeschool do so with the best of intentions, and many do it quite well, at least in the child’s elementary years.

    But the fact is that without oversight, it would be quite possible for parents who are misguided or incapable of educating their children to use the homeschool option to deny their children a basic education.

    Just because it rarely, if ever, happens is no excuse. We have to prevent victimization by any and all means.

    What’s wrong with that?

    Let’s throw stones at the straw man. Make some outrageous claim; attribute it to your opponents; and, then, debunk it.

    As a society, we have assumed a responsibility not only to provide for the education of every child, but to ensure that every child gets it. It’s the child’s right. That’s why special education evolved for special-needs children. It’s why school enrollment by a certain age became mandatory in the first place. It’s also why parents are held accountable for truant schoolchildren.

    No, the history of compulsory attendance laws shows school became mandatory in order to create a ready supply of workers for the newly industrialized country. But, that is a history lesson best left for another day.

    There are good parts to Rep. Rohrer’s legislation. He’s correct that we should not make homeschoolers jump through a bunch of hoops set up by an overwrought bureaucracy, so certainly the thing should be made as simple as possible.

    But some oversight, either by the local school district or the state, is in order. Homeschooled children should be assessed, if not every year, then every second or third year, to make sure that their parents are actually teaching them – with at least a minimum of competence.

    Back to preemptive regulation, again. There are too many things left unsaid here. How are the children supposed to be assessed? And, by whom? To what standard of performance are they to be held? And, what is the enforcement mechanism if they don’t achieve it? And to what end? How many homeschoolers are really going to let their kids sit around and do absolutely nothing for two, three, or more years? 1 per cent? One-tenth per cent? So, the nanny-state is going to inconvenience and harass 99+ per cent of homeschoolers on the off chance that they’ll catch the "bad" homeschoolers.

    No, homeschooled kids, on average, should not be expected to perform to the academic level of those who are being educated by professionals, any more than a shirt made by a plumber should be expected to fit as well as one stitched by a tailor. But they should be able to meet certain minimum standards.

    This is laughable.

    Because here’s the thing: Children are citizens, too. And while parents should have the right to homeschool their child, they should not have the right to deny that child an education. The student’s right to an education trumps the parent’s right to homeschool.

    I don’t believe any homeschooler has ever claimed the right to deny an education to our children. If we wanted to do that, we’d send them to the public schools. The "tailors" there do a wonderful job of not-educating. No, what homeschoolers claim is that it is our responsibility to educate our children. We also claim that the state has shown no compelling interest in the education of same. Absent that, "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" [Pierce v. Society of Sisters].

    FINALLY GETTING CAUGHT UP

    Filed on August 24, 2002 at 7:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    FINALLY GETTING CAUGHT UP Eugene Volokh blogged the CA HSing issue the other day. He comes down on the side of the HSers but misses the mark with his comments about requiring “certain output[s]” such as “good results on periodic tests.”

    Failing to make sure that one’s kids are adequately educated seems to me to be a form of child abuse, and I think the government is morally entitled to protect kids against this, though there are obvious pragmatic and public choice risks even with such requirements.

    I have a couple of problems with this.

    First, why should HSers be subject to proving that the kids are getting a good education when we have given the public schools a pass for at least the last 50 years? Would this apply to each and every HSer? Would ALL of our kids have to score at or above grade level or face some kind of retribution from the state? On whose curriculum would these tests be based? HSers usually don’t follow the same scope & sequence as the public schools; would a low score on a test even be meaningful?

    On a more fundamental basis, though, I disagree with Prof. Volokh’s assertion that the state is “morally entitled” to be involved in our children’s education. I believe that the state has an interest in assuring that the populace is literate enough to vote. Beyond that, the state’s interest is subordinate to those of the parents:

    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. (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1925)

    If the state cannot standardize its children’s education, it certainly cannot demand a certain performance on standardized tests based on that education.

    UPDATE: Skip Oliva picked up on Volokh blog, too. He just did it a bit more, er, enthusiastically than I.

    UPDATE II: It’s apparently unanimous. Chris O’Donnell went after Prof. Volokh here.

    Highered Intelligence blogged a

    Filed on August 5, 2002 at 4:35 pm under by dcobranchi

    Highered Intelligence blogged a quote from Chris Klicka that helped me make up my mind not to re-up with HSLDA.

    “Initially, nobody was certain that homeschooling really works – thus the need for heavier regulation, or in some cases, complete prohibition,” said Christopher Klicka, senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va.

    The “need”? No way! There was never a “need”. A desire by the NEA and their legislative supporters perhaps. I hope Chris was mis-quoted. If not, this is worrisome. If the senior counsel for a HS lobbying group believes that HSing is a privilege earned by being good boys and girls and “proving” that HSing works, then we are in trouble. Hey, Chris, HSing is not an earned privilege; it is a right! Go back and re-read Pierce v. Society of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

    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. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.