Home Schoolers Attacked
It’s elementary. Education control freaks will use any excuse to crack down on competition. With two million K-12 students now educated at home (including our 9th grade son), the temptation to exploit the most marginal cases of alleged child abuse by home-schoolers has proven irresistible to statist politicians and government apologists.
Take the case of David and Louise Turpin’s 13 starving children, reportedly found tethered to their beds after one of the siblings escaped and contacted police. The Turpins’ “house of horrors” in Riverside County, Calif., grabbed international headlines — and lured a parade of publicity hounds.
Louise Turpin’s half-sister, Teresa Robinette, who also sat on the sidelines for years, miraculously found the energy and motivation to wake up early for an interview on NBC’s “Today Show,” where she gregariously gossiped about family secrets.
Another of Louise Turpin’s sisters, Elizabeth Flores, dry-cried and show-sniffled on ABC’s “Good Morning America” about her “love” for the Turpin children whom she claims to have tried to Skype unsuccessfully “for 20 years.” How heroic of her.
But instead of training tough scrutiny where it belongs — on the parents, relatives and acquaintances of the alleged victims — California legislators and narrative-shaping liberal journalists have instead directed their wrath at home schooling.
The Turpins had filed required paperwork with the state registering their supposed home school, the Sandcastle Day School, as a “private school.” Several court cases in California have upheld the right to home school.
The deep, wide and vast majority of home-schoolers nationwide are loving, excellent and responsible instructors and parents. Yet, public school lobbyists have marginalized them as amateurs, weirdos and menaces who don’t have the intelligence to raise and educate their own children.
In New York City, incompetent bureaucrats have routinely harassed home-schooling families and falsely accused them of “educational neglect” after losing their paperwork. Home-schooling mom of two, Tanya Acevedo, who is suing the Big Apple, told my CRTV.com program how bureaucratic snafus that classified her son as a truant led to a Child Protective Services investigation.
The idea that there is something especially sinister and crime-enabling about home schooling — The Week’s Damon Linker warned darkly of the “sickening danger of home-schooling,” for example, and NPR invoked the specter of a “cult” — betrays an all-too-common bias against parental autonomy that ignores the government’s own gross misconduct. From coast to coast, child welfare agencies see parental negligence where none exists and conversely ignore abuse when it’s under their employees’ noses. Federal audits of state child welfare bureaucracies in California and Texas last year found rampant failures to detect abuse, investigate allegations and track referrals.
Moreover, sexual abuse scandals have rocked inner-city schools, suburban public school districts and wealthy private schools alike.
Yet, the vultures of political opportunism are using the plight of the Turpin children to impose expanded control over all home-schoolers in the Golden State. California Assemblymember Jose Medina, D-Riverside, plans to introduce a bill requiring that “mandated reporters” designated by the state Department of Education conduct annual assessments in all home schools.
Echoing Medina’s concern for “the lack of oversight the state of California currently has in monitoring private and home schools,” liberal New Republic writer Sarah Jones decried how “lax homeschooling laws protect child abusers.” She pivoted quickly from the Turpin tragedy to an attack on the home-school movement’s academic achievements and opposition to mandatory kindergarten.
Fundamentally, the home-school crackdown caucus views the very freedom to educate one’s own children as a threat to government authority. In the name of liberating the Turpin children, they seek to keep the rest of us home-schooling families in regulatory chains.