I’ve got to write about this today because I have some skin in the game; and besides, the headline is provocative: “West Virginia Introduces Bill to Treat Homeschooling as Child Abuse” ( http://www.dcclothesline.com/2017/04/01/west-virginia-introduces-bill-to-treat-homeschooling-as-child-abuse/ ).
I am employed by The Chalcedon Foundation, an international Christian education ministry. Our founder, Rev. R.J. Rushdoony, probably more than any other single individual, championed homeschooling: he spent most of the 1970s testifying as an expert witness in hundreds of cases involving homeschooling, logging thousands and thousands of miles as he traveled the country back and forth, defending parents’ right to educate their children at home–and particularly the right of Christian parents to provide their children with a Christian education.
All of us at Chalcedon are committed heart and soul to homeschooling, and the ministry continues to labor on its behalf. We are glad to be able to say that homeschooling now is on a much, much firmer footing than it was in the 1970s, when government at all levels, and particularly the Jimmy Carter administration, tried to wipe it out. By and large, God’s people have won that battle, at least in America. But we do understand that it’s not yet time to head for the hammock and reach for the beer.
Now, back to West Virginia.
Alarmist headline aside, at least the news story contains the text of the bill and statements from its sponsors. Having read these, I don’t believe the intent of the bill is to criminalize homeschooling or to try to control what parents teach their children–although you can find those legislative goals enthusiastically pursued by Western governments outside the United States. Rushdoony would say we need to fight for homeschooling rights there, too.
Anyway, the purpose of this bill seems to be to stop parents from using homeschooling as an excuse for truancy. It says a “student is not eligible for either home instruction exemption once certain truancy related legal proceedings begin or after a conviction.” In other words, you can’t say, “Ooh-ooh, I just remembered! Johnny didn’t show up to school ten days in a row without a note from me because I was homeschooling him at the time. I mean, I meant to send you a note but I guess it slipped my mind…” None of that will be allowed, if the bill passes.
We do not deny that child abuse and child neglect exist. We certainly don’t want homeschooling used as a lame excuse for it. But we at Chalcedon stand for home education as an absolute right, and speaking for myself, I would like to see an end to state-sponsored public education–as an institution corrupt from its beginning, whose goals have always been unwholesome, and as a bad business that only gets worse by the day.
In the meantime, though, I don’t think this West Virginia bill is anything special to be afraid of.
P.S.–Not to hit you with a commercial, but I’ve long found the best single resource, in understanding the history of public schooling in America, to be R.J. Rushdoony’s book, The Messianic Character of American Education–available, like my novels, from the Chalcedon store (http://www.chalcedon.edu/store ). In their own words, Rushdoony lets the creators, developers, and theorists of public education condemn themselves. It’s powerful stuff! It’ll make your hair stand on end.