Pro-Choice for Education

I am dismayed that some people who pride themselves on being pro-choice stand for choice when it comes to the decision of a parent to terminate a young human’s life, but would deny choice to the parents who wish to choose how their living child is educated.

“Keep the government out of my womb! Keep the government out of the bedroom!” But when their home-schooling neighbor says, “Keep the government out of my child’s classroom and out of our home,” some pro-choice advocates would deny that choice and call for the police to invade, an act that may traumatize a family for years.

See the newly published story from Germany, “Police Seized My Clients’ Children Because They Homeschooled. Last Week a Court Ruled It Was OK.” Thirty-three police officers and seven social workers showed up one morning at the Wunderlich home and threatened to bash in the door with a battering ram if they weren’t allowed in. They then came in and carried away the children as they screamed for help. The ruthless iron fist of big government compassion had struck another blow for progress. But it was a case that never should have been pursued.

Prior to the children’s removal, the Wunderlichs met with an official
from the Youth Welfare Office who reported positively about their
homeschooling situation: “We had the impression that all children were
developing according to their age. On the part of the Youth Welfare
Office there is currently no need for action.”

But the schooling authority disagreed. In a response we have now
obtained, this official—who had not visited the home and had not met
with the children—wrote, “I am certainly of the opinion that there is a
danger to the children, because they are systematically withdrawn from
all social aspects of society and live in a so-called parallel society.”

That is raw ideology, not concern for the children. And that’s what is really at issue in this case.

The people who have consistently shown the most concern for these
children through proceedings are the parents, who have fought for
justice ever since their children were seized. From the beginning, they
chose to live a more frugal life so they could be at home with their
children as they grew up.

In its decision last week, the European Court of Human Rights has
undermined its claim to being the “conscience of Europe” and pitted
parents against children. The court was set up to adjudicate disputes
between individuals and the state, and yet it misframes this case as one
in which the courts must mediate between parent and child:
“[International law] requires that a fair balance must be struck between
the interests of the child and those of the parent.”

The overt assumptions here—that parents do not have their children’s
best interests at heart and that the state knows better—should trouble
any parent, whether your children are educated at home or at school.

Parallel societies and unlimited choices are applauded when it comes to various lifestyles and cultures, but when a religious Christian family wants to decide how to educate their children, heaven Big Brother help us!

The Wunderlich story resonates with painful experiences in many regions, including some
in the U.S., where local and state governments have
occasionally trampled upon parental rights, denying them of choice when
it comes to education for their kids. Fortunately, organized efforts
from many parents have increased awareness of the legitimacy of home
schooling and school choice in many communities, but many threats remain.

Some of the smartest young people I know are home schooled, honestly, and I applaud parents who make the huge sacrifice to personally work to give their kids the best they can provide. We didn’t home school, but instead my wife chose to launch a highly successful charter school that has opened wonderful opportunities and choice for hundreds of students and families in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin, including some of our own children.

But whether a home school effort or charter school in the end is successful or not does not justify the right of parents to decide how their children are educated. Those rights are part of being parents and need to be respected, not mocked or undermined by the many tactics used by those who insist that every child must be kept under the control of a teacher’s union or bureaucrats. These tactics include, for example, current attempts at legislation to impose stricter standards on home schools than public schools face, or accusing children of truancy who have met all legal requirements in their state for suitable education, and turning paperwork disputes into unwarranted charges of “neglect” that escalate to police charging into a home. Harassment from various officials around the US and around the world has been a long-standing challenge in home schooling. Europe’s dramatic rejection of parental rights makes this worse for millions.

The freedom to worship is ultimately the freedom to choose what to believe, which includes the freedom to teach our children what we believe. If religious parents cannot choose to teach their own children or to choose who teaches them, personal liberty including religious liberty is infringed.

This is anathema to the populists in nominally democratic nations who want ever more power to control our lives and compel us to see the world their way in the name of “compelling” interests. Real freedom must be grounded in the respect of individuals, and individual families unfettered by the will of bureaucrats who always think they know what’s better for all of us. They not only always think they know better than we do how our money should be spent, but also how our children should be raised. Even if they were geniuses that really know better, as long as the US Constitution has any meaning, they still do not and should not have any right to impose their will on us. As an American citizen who loves the liberties protected in the Constitution, I must stand for limited government and expanded individual liberty for my nation, and hope that our efforts toward that end will help protect religious liberty for all of us.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

16 thoughts on “Pro-Choice for Education

  1. "limited government"??? If you truly believed in limited government you would advocate for the government not paying for education at all. Public education is an American invention and the greatest form of socialism, socialism that works.

    School choice has always and still exists in America. It is called moving. People do it all the time. With regards to vouchers, my blue dog democrat grandma insisted that vouchers is nothing more than the State writing a check to the Catholic Church. I tried getting the missionaries in the MTC to understand school choice vouchers, they all universally rejected it. That is when I realized I was wrong. People like their educational system in Utah. They like the separation of church and state that release time seminary provides.

    Touch the money, then strings will come attached. Some how BYU touched it, so Title IX applies. Bob Jones U. can implement racist policies if it chooses, but it will lose it tax exempt status, a status that usually provides religions subsidized (free) fire and police services. Chapels, Mormon and otherwise, should have to pay property taxes for their public services, if America truly had separation of church and state.

    Most parents lives are too complicated to pick up and move to a better school. That is why the Democrat solution is to end the practice where a large portion of public schools are funded by local property tax and implement policies that prevent white flight.

    The America government allows you to baptize your children and exclusively take them to one religious service even though this hurts the child's freedom of choice. Legally, all children belong to the government, the government allows you to limit the human being's choices in life and impose your religion on them. One day the Government may require you to expose the child to other religious services, but you have nothing to fear. The public schools have been run by faculty predominately of one political persuasion. Republican parents control the political narrative in the home, over coming any indoctrination in the schools. The movie American History X demonstrates this best.

  2. I support home schooling; based on my experience, it often produces excellent results. Occasionally it produces bad results, but on balance I'd say it's quite effective.

    On the other hand, I don't support for-profit charter schools, partly because they don't produce the great results they claim, but mostly because the financial incentives are all wrong. There are many horror stories of people running charters merely to rip off the taxpayer. A favored scheme seems to be to buy a building, house the school in it, and then use school district funding to rent the building from oneself at an exorbitant rate.

    But even though I agree with Jeff about home schooling, I find much that is just ludicrous in this post. Consider this passage:

    Real freedom must be grounded in the respect of individuals, and individual families unfettered by the will of bureaucrats who always think they know what's better for all of us. They not only always think they know better than we do how our money should be spent, but also how our children should be raised. Even if they were geniuses that really know better, as long as the US Constitution has any meaning, they still do not and should not have any right to impose their will on us.

    One way you can tell that Jeff has left the world of rational discourse and entered the bizarro world of right-wingnuttery is his use of "they" to refer to a democratically elected government. At any moment we want to, we can change what those bureaucrats do. We could even eliminate them entirely.

    Also, and more fundamentally, "real freedom" cannot be grounded "in the respect of individuals" alone. Also crucial is a respect for society — for the collectivity without which individuals cannot flourish — and a respect for a healthy environment, without which individuals cannot flourish, etc. It ain't just about the individual. As soon as people realize this, "big government" becomes inevitable.

    — OK

  3. @ Anonymous 12:38

    "Right wing nuttery". That phrase right there shows you are an Alt Left Socialist Communist Marxist and Alinsky disciple.

    We can not change what the bureaucrats do. The bureaucrats no longer work for us, not do they care about us.

    The federal government is too corrupt. The only way to change it is a revolution with guillotines for the elitist Communist globalist bureaucrats who pretend to work for us and care for us, and who are destroying the country and the world.

  4. Wait, Anon 9:48 — are you calling for a violent revolution to overthrow the United States of America?

    If so, I believe it’s a first for Mormanity.

    — OK

  5. Tee hee. Nice catch, Anon 10:51. Back in the good old days it was armed mobs of murderous vigilantes; now we just have those pesky bureaucrats to complain about. America sure ain’t what it used to be.

    — OK

  6. OK, thanks for kindly calling me out as a bizarro right-wing nutcase. Though I'm sure you meant it with all due disrespect and offense — not because you are anti-Mormon in any sense, but just despise and oppose all things LDS as part of your benign social agenda — nevertheless, the insult comes as somewhat welcome relief after being called out in other posts here for being excessively liberal. So thanks! I needed that.

    Yes, I believe in individual liberties and am skeptical of the classism and group-think of some on the left. Of course I value respect for society, as do most conservatives I know, and you'll find many of us doing more for the welfare of our communities and donating more to charities than many who rant about the need for government to make everyone else give more.

    But I don't think that an election is capable of changing the agenda of the most powerful institutions once a government has become overly big and corrupt. Elections in many big-government nations are pure farces, and in ours, while some things can change, an election probably can't change the power of, say, the massive powers of the military, who will keep spending us to oblivion and bombing nations around the world regardless of what the citizens of this nation want and regardless of what budgets nominally say they can spend. Few of us want war. Few of us feel a need to invade countries on the other side of the world. Few of us feel American has to be the policeman of the world. Yet that's not going to change regardless of which of the reigning sister parties take the executive seat next election. But if you want to run on a an agenda of really taking on the military and, for good measure, the Fed, I'd probably be happy to overlook your frequent jabs and vote for you! Best wishes.

  7. Jeff, when you speak of things like "bureaucrats who always think they know what's better for all of us," who "always think they know better than we do how our money should be spent," and so on, you are indeed speaking the language of right-wingnuttery. I suggest you actually talk to some of those bureaucrats — say, people who work for a social services agency, or a consumer protection bureau, or the EPA — and get a better idea of what they actually do before condemning them. You might be surprised. (You might also discover how many of them are LDS!)

    In your third paragraph above you're basically making the perfect the enemy of the good: elections can't change everything you'd like to see changed, in the ways you'd like to see everything changed, therefore elections are a farce. I don't think you actually believe that. I think you say things like that when you're thoughtlessly caught up in one of the more popular strands of "Hey look at how radical and cynical I am!" political discourse.

    — OK

  8. You had me with you, until the whole Fed thing. Remind us what your beef with the Fed is.

    Our money should have “In The Fed We Trust” written on it. Like all human systems it is fallible, but so far we have been fortunate to have intelligent men and women in it help us clean up our messes.

    Even Milton Friedman complained that the Fed did not do more during the great depression. Huh? Do more? Limited government guy wanted the Fed to do more?

    The Fed did not decide whether or not to support Israel in the 70's. Arthur Burns may have put a conservative like Nixon in a corner and forced him into price and wage controls, but then came Paul Volcker, backed by Reagan, to save the day.

    The Fed did not create the internet or the internet bubble. Alan Greenspan failed to further limit margin rates, but imagine that, had the Fed not limited how much stocks can be bought with borrowed money the internet bubble would have been even bigger. Had the Fed not lowered interest rates post pop, the pop would have been even bigger.

    The Fed did not create the credit rating agencies or encourage them to commit fraud. It did not create the credit default swaps on questionable mortgages. In 2008, when the fraud became evident to all and the financial system froze because no one could figure out who owned these credit default swaps, it was the Fed that help softened the blow and kick the can down the road.

    So from US support of Israeli, to Internet bubbles, to our collective mortgage fraud induced financial Armageddon of 2008, the Fed has been there walk us through it.

    Can you imagine if congress had to walk us through these economics crisis-es. Thank goodness congress outsourced the job to the Fed. You really want congress to start doing it again? The same congress you just complained about? Erratic interest rates every election cycle? Really? That is what you want?

  9. I delete comments that are off-topic. An article on home-schooling is not an excuse to regurgitate your favorite ugly issue from the past. This post is not about former encouragement for people to pray to God to avenge the blood of martyrs (a prayer for God to do that, not us). It's not about polygamy. It's not about crimes in ancient Canaan or about the electric theory of the universe. It's about home-schooling and freedom in education. Sorry if that isn't clear.

  10. Dear persistent anons: If I delete something that I feel is inappropriate or off-topic and that you really should know is inappropriate here, you shouldn't just go and post it again. Rather irritating. Feel free to get your own blog and post off-topic material all day long, but not here, please.

  11. If you don't like people pointing out that you are anti-christian by your own definition, then why not prohibit anonymous posting the way fairmormon does?

  12. I posted the Oath of Vengeance as an appropriate response to Anon @10:31. I posted it again in response to your attempt to launder the inconvenient.

    This wasn't a random attempt to embarrass you with Mormon history. It was entirely apt and important given the tendency of homeschoolers to tailor information to their sensibilities. That is the great danger of homeschooling and, I think, what we are seeing in the growing numbers of low and bad information voters that have given us the destructive Donald Trump and continue to cling to his message of racism, misogyny and general distrust of the American government and other Americans.

    I'm sorry it embarrasses you but I think it's something you need to consider before you extol the forces abandoning public education, lowering standards and creating division in the country.

  13. The mega anti-christian Jeff Lindsay just didn't like you educating us on the oath. The whole stay on topic thing was just an excuse.

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