The enemy comes for your children

A Quiet Threat to Homeschooling


Lee Duigon
October 1, 2003

Will homeschooling Christian parents be compelled to teach their children to embrace “safe sex,” abortion on demand, and moral relativism?

It sounds absurd, but it could happen tomorrow, next month, or anytime. The proposal is on the table, waiting for a judge to pick it up.

Children have a constitutional right to learn about beliefs and ways of life other than those of their parents, and the state has a duty to secure that right for them.

So argued Rob Reich, political science and education professor at Stanford University, at the 2001 convention of the American Political Science Association, reading from a paper entitled, “Testing the Boundaries of Parental Authority over Education, the Case of Home Schooling.” He included the paper as a chapter in his 2002 book, Bridging Multiculturalism and Liberalism in Education.

As dry and academic as that seems, Reich’s new children’s “right” has attracted the notice of America’s education elite. “Reich’s material is being read and referenced,” reported Home Education Magazine News & Commentary recently. “He has the ear of the media.”

In his writings, Reich proposes that homeschooling should be monitored by the state to ensure that parents teach their children beliefs and lifestyles that they may oppose — that parents may even believe to be evil.

One lawsuit brought to the right court — the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, for instance, (famous for declaring the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional) — could allow a judge to rule that Professor Reich is right, that children do have a right to learn beliefs and behaviors opposed to those of their parents. And if the parents refuse to teach them such, then the court may order them to secure their children’s “rights” by sending them to public school.

“We see that danger,” says Thomas Washburne, J.D., of the Home School Legal Defense Fund. “You might see it come up in a case where homeschooling parents demonstrably failed to educate a child. Some advocacy group might file a suit and try to mount a case for the child. They might claim the child has this right Reich has identified, and the judge might agree.”

In a recent reader review of Reich’s book, the reviewer declared, “The leading goal of education is to develop autonomy in children.”

The statement was echoed in Hem News & Commentary: “The state has a role of promoting the independent interest of children, including the right to live a life other than that their parents lead.”

These astounding statements — are we to believe that until today’s hip educators came along, children were doomed to be carbon copies of their parents? — show that Reich’s ideas have fallen upon fertile ground.

Reich asserts, “Children are owed as a matter of justice the capacity to lead lives—adopt values and beliefs, pursue an occupation, endorse new [sic] traditions—that are different from those of their parents. Because the child cannot … ensure the acquisition of such capacities and the parents may be opposed … the state must ensure it for them” (emphasis added).

“It is at this point that we can begin to see the implications, indeed danger, of Reich’s ideas for home education,” Washburne says.

Reich has also written, “Neither parents nor the state can justly attempt to imprint indelibly upon a child a set of values and beliefs.”

Are you listening, Christian parents? Consider Biblical injunctions, such as:

“And ye shall teach them (God’s words) [to] your children … (Dt. 11:19), or “Train up a child in the way he should go …”(Pr. 22:6). To obey these injunctions, in Reich’s view, would be unjust.

Yet he argues that state interference in home education may be necessary to secure the children’s religious freedom: “[T]he state cannot relinquish its regulatory role in education in cases where parents invoke their religious beliefs as a bulwark against secular authority” (emphasis added). Translation: homeschooling is okay, as long as you don’t teach your children to be Christians.

“What Reich is doing,” Washburne says, “is setting an academic framework by which an activist judge might rule in favor of heavy restrictions on home education.”

What is the purpose of Reich’s proposals?

Says Washburne, “The education elite sees homeschoolers as traditional moralists, raising their children to be traditional moralists. They teach their children truth — truth that the elite doesn’t believe in, doesn’t recognize. It drives them crazy that they can’t get at these homeschooled children.”

For many parents, the whole point of homeschooling is to get their children out of the public schools and away from corrupt ideas and values. Now Reich proposes that these corrupt ideas be brought into the home by the parents themselves — or else.

“It’s been quiet so far this year,” Washburne says, “but Reich’s ideas are out there. We’re waiting to see if anyone tries to implement them.”

Perhaps Christian parents ought to start planning what they will do if an activist judge rules that their children have a “right” to be taught Practical Paganism 101. >From the view of this writer, it’s only a matter of time before such an answer will be needed.

For more information, contact the Home School Legal Defense Fund, (540) 338-5600.


Lee Duigon is a businessman and free lance writer from New Jersey.


4 Responses to “The enemy comes for your children”

  1. Todd Says:

    Peace, Fr Todd.

    Rather than a threat, public school officials should see homeschooling as a challenge. It is the rare family that can free a parent to educate children fully and properly.

    I suppose I would be concerned about children in survivalist compounds getting homeschooled. I suppose society has a vested interest in maintaining standards. Hopefully, few homeschoolers are giving in to the victimhood cry. Just to be provocative, let me mention if my parish ever went to a tuition standard, I would probably opt to homeschool our daughter if my wife would go along. I think a liberal makes a better homeschooling parent, but I’m clearly biased in this regard.

  2. Donald Says:

    As a child, I attended a small, country school, which never exceeded 40 kids (K-8). The teacher that I had from 4th through 8th grades was a devout Christian. She never overtly taught Christianity (Bible, doctrines, etc.), but she did teach it through her actions and the discipline she kept in class. Thus, I don’t think that I needed homeschooling.
    However, if I had to send my kindergartener to a school in which I knew that the curriculum involved more that the 3R’s, to the point that what the school teaches is morally questionable, I would feel compelled to remove my child from that school. As children get older, they hit the age of reason, and can defend themselves and the beliefs that their parents have tried to imprint on them. Why is it that if a parent tries to impress articulations of the amorphous Christian values of faith, hope, and love on their children that the “educated elite” see these parents as evil bogeymen?

  3. Todd Says:

    Peace, Donald.

    You asked, “Why is it that if a parent tries to impress articulations of the amorphous Christian values of faith, hope, and love on their children that the “educated elite” see these parents as evil bogeymen?”

    Because Christian people have been agents of great evil in history. Because human beings, even non-Christians, are suspicious of people they don’t know or understand. Because of plain fear or ignorance.

    I think this story is alarmist fiction. No legal agency will spend the effort to pursue Christian homeschoolers and thus fritter away good will.

  4. Father Todd Reitmeyer Says:

    Todd, I hope your right. Experience makes me think it isn’t alarmist fiction. I think the book, which is the main point of the story, is easy to track down.

    Public Authorities and educators do have a tendency to be threatened by homeschoolers. I am the chaplain to homeschoolers in Sioux Falls and I have experience with it on many fronts. Read our local papers front page story yesterday and you will see vestiges of what this article is talking about.

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