Regulation

Homeschooling Is Legal Again in California

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Last week a California appeals court reversed a February ruling that said state law permits homeschooling only by credentialed teachers. In the earlier ruling, noted here by Katherine Mangu-Ward, the Court of Appeal for the 2nd Appellate District concluded that the legislature had deliberately removed an exemption for homeschooled children from California's compulsory education law in 1929 and had never reinstated it. The decision alarmed tens of thousands of Californians who thought they had the state's approval in teaching their children at home. In last week's ruling, the court reconsidered, finding that the legislature had implicitly endorsed homeschools by exempting them from various regulatory requirements. "While the Legislature has never acted to expressly supersede" appeals court decisions that said a homeschool did not qualify as a "private full-time day school," the three-judge panel said, "it has acted as though home schooling is, in fact, permitted in California."

Here is a PDF of the ruling, which an attorney representing homeschoolers called "a great victory for homeschool freedom."

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  1. “A giant step for mankind.”

    Not that it should ever have been an issue.

  2. I’m glad for the decision, because I think that respecting the parental option of homeschooling is the right thing to do, and preserves the right relationship between the citizen and the state. But the justification for the present decision sounds questionable, even flimsy, so I’m wondering how long it will stand, and whether it truly is a serious victory for parents and the homeschool community. Oh well, celebrate and enjoy the benefits of all victories, great or small, I say. Congrats all around to those who are on the winning side today.

  3. only by credentialed teachers.

    Maybe California and the rest of the states should require that there are credentialed teachers in the public schools first.

  4. The decision alarmed tens of thousands of Californians who thought they had the state’s approval in teaching their children at home

    This begs the question: why the fuck would they NEED the state’s approval to teach their children at home?

    -jcr

  5. require that there are credentialed teachers in the public schools first.

    Don’t confuse “credentialed” with “competent”.

    -jcr

  6. Also, I don’t see it in the H&R archives, but Weed is legal again.

  7. I taught for two years at a private high school in AZ, and was very surprised to learn more about the history of American education, John Dewey, the Leftist influence from the earliest days, and so on.

    The facts are so far out there that I don’t typically even bring it up to people because their own words sound so far fetched.

  8. The decision alarmed tens of thousands of Californians who thought they had the state’s approval in teaching their children at home.

    Didn’t some peope selling medical marijuana who thought they had state approval get alarmed about some little courtroom kerfuffle?

    I’m beginning to see a pattern here. And it involves the desire for “state approval”.

  9. LOL, sounds like a bunch of idiots in charge out there in CA. Home Schooling works, to heck with that the “stupid law” said in January.

    JT
    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  10. Jim McDosh what the fuck is your problem?

  11. This begs the question: why the fuck would they NEED the state’s approval to teach their children at home?

    Because the compulsory education law requires that children receive an education. So, if the state decides that what you are teaching your kids doesn’t meet their definition of education, you’re violating the law.

    I teach my kids stuff all the time — long, informal Q&A sessions about anarcho-capitalism, why FDR sucks, why everything you see happened in the past because the speed of light is not infinite, etc. They ask questions, I answer at length.

    Yet if I decided to pull my kids out of formal school and teach them like this for 6 to 8 hours a day without getting state approval, I would be considered to be violating the law.

  12. A difficulty here is that kids can’t make an informed consent as to whether they are getting a good enough education to meet what, as prolefeed points out, many states promise (some in their constitutions). I think part of the state’s concern is that an ignorant and stupid parent may screw the life chances of a kid up just because the kid is “his” or “hers.” There is a public interest in making sure people are educated, and there is also a measure of looking out for a kid whose parents may not be.

    I’m not saying these arguments should carry the day. But it’s not like the other side here just woke up, twirled their mustaches, grinned and said “you know what, I’m going to work today to violate parental rights and force kids to go to shitty public schools, hahahaha!”

  13. For example, if a Jehovah Witness refuses their child a life saving blood transufion, can the state step in?

    Now a blood transufion is sometimes critical to living. And a competent education is pretty critical to one’s opportunities in life. One can think it’s not an easy question whether someone shouldn’t step in a do something about a parent who decides to deprive a kid of either.

    I will readily agree that a lot of certified teachers are dumb as tacks and terrible teachers, but I would argue that a random sample of non-certified folks would be, on the whole, worse.

  14. Mr. Nice Guy,

    Is that satire? I can’t tell.

  15. MNG,

    What if parents don’t make their kids eat vegetables? Should the state step in and require the kids’ diet be approved by the state?

    Except for anarchism and full-blown totalitarianism, the status of children is going to be a problem for any political philosophy. At some point, you have to trust that parents want what’s best for their children and will work to make it happen.

    I will readily agree that a lot of certified teachers are dumb as tacks and terrible teachers, but I would argue that a random sample of non-certified folks would be, on the whole, worse.

    Not if they’re teaching one-on-one and the certified people are teaching a class of 30. Plus the fact that parents have much greater motivation to have educated children than teachers do.

  16. And if the state absolutely must have its finger in the pie of every kid’s education, they can require standardized testing of homeschooled children to make sure they’re learning the 3Rs (but not self-esteem education and multiculturalist crap they would get at a public school)

  17. Correction, the swiss are under attack by a giant floating dog turd….though the turd was created by an american.

  18. MNG,

    You probably don’t realize this, but the purpose of compulsory state education was not originally intended to provide children with education they needed to be productive citizens. Nor has it ever really served that purpose.

    Generally, it has been intended for religious indoctrination.

    Here in Massachusetts, the schools were instituted to teach the official state version of Protestantism. In the late 19th century the vast majority of support for the echeme came from people who were fearful of unassimilated immigrants, particularly the Catholics.

    Compulsory public schooling is always intended to provide a useful tool for politically powerful elites to indoctrinate the children of the masses in a manner that suits them.

    The notion that public schools permit an educated populace which inturn improves the functioning of democracies is about as accurate as George Bush’s claim that the violent occupation of Iraq and suppression of private enterprise there was “liberation”.

    Rather, we can see that the opposite is true, long gone are the days when there would be substantive debates on monetary policy or political theory. Andy why should there be? The vast majority of people, having been fed state approved courses on history believe the now thoroughly debunked myth that unregulated capitalism caused the great depression and that FDR’s New Deal followed by World War II rescued us from it. The vast majority of people have been taught the Benthamite rule that the government grants freedoms.

    The Bush family, the Roosevelt family, the Taft Family, the Rockefeller family, the Kennedy family et al can sit content. The masses will continue to slave away to keep them in champagne, and to even be grateful for the chains of bondage. All courtesy of compulsory state approved schooling.

  19. “Except for anarchism and full-blown totalitarianism, the status of children is going to be a problem for any political philosophy. At some point, you have to trust that parents want what’s best for their children and will work to make it happen.”

    Wait a minute, you just said “this is going to be a tough one” and then said “so let’s go with anarchism.” Huh?

    On the other note, most places require graduate education to be a teacher while in the general public about 10% has such education. I think a random sample of people with masters degrees and a random sample of “parents” would find the latter to be very likely much less educated. I think this is an imperfect, but useful indicator for “higher probability of being a dumbass or raving lunatic” (unless you want to argue that getting a masters degree actually has no correlation with intelligence and sanity). And so while the motivation might be there, and a more one on one environment, you also get the higher chance of being one on one with a highly motivated idiot or dumbass, which is not going to help that kid much…Another thing you get in schools is checks on nutjob teachers from the other teachers (both within years and between years), something a homeschooled kid is not gonna get…

    Tarran-I think you’re vastly overrating both the Progressive nature of the average k-12 education and, to the extent you are onto something, vastly overrating any effect it has on making the public into the stupid people that vote our idiotic leaders in every year. Schools won’t ever make there be no dumb people, no one claims that. It hopefully makes them less dumb, but the dumb, ye will have them unto the end of time…Most stupid people are’nt stupid because of what they’ve learned, but because of the vast amounts they have NOT learned (or cared) about…

  20. Where do I say we should go with anarchism? Of course I believe the state should intervene when life or bodily integrity of a child is threatened, just as I would say of an adult. How about you, do you think the state should approve parents’ choices of dinner and vegetable eating enforcement, or do you have some reasoning why the state has less of a compelling interest in the health and well-being of children than in their education.

    unless you want to argue that getting a masters degree actually has no correlation with intelligence and sanity

    I would argue it doesn’t make a huge difference in the ability to teach K-12 material. And a M.Ed., along with much of the undergraduate preparation certified teachers get, is focusing on how to teach large numbers of children, not one-on-one.

  21. Most stupid people are’nt stupid because of what they’ve learned, but because of the vast amounts they have NOT learned (or cared) about…

    Please don’t confuse education with intelligence. The two are only weakly correlated. And no, I think you missed my point.

    I am convinced that compulsory state education has the inevitable effect of keeping the masses ignorant of anything other than what the political elites want them to “know”.

    George Orwell expressed the theory quite poetically.

    He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future

    Or you can go with the more damningly honest and verbose version put forth by Rockefeller’s General Education Board (a 19th century PAC in the vanguard of setting up state run schools throughout the country) in their first newsletter:

    In our dreams…people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple…we will organize children…and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

    Overreacting… yeah. 😉

  22. I think grad school helps weed out many extreme nutjobs and incompetents in a way that conception does not. And I think being one of 30 students to a non-incompetent nutjob will aid any kid more than being one on one with an incompetent nutjob.

    Well Occam I actually do think that the state should do things to get parents to take care of kids health needs; like regulating advertising aimed at children and requiring public service announcements pushing veggies and such, and making school lunchrooms offer healthier choices, etc.

    But I agree with you the state should step in and use force to make sure a kid who needs a transfusion gets it. I’m not sure we need to force parents to give kids veggies (as their are many costs associated with enforcing something like this), but I think requiring that kids get an education that meets certain standards falls somewhere in between these two. Don’t you?

  23. MNG,

    It doesn’t matter to me where it falls relative to the spinach police. It falls outside of protecting life and bodily integrity, therefore it’s none of the state’s business.

    Do you have any justification for drawing the line between dictating education material vs. dictating vegetable selection, or is it just because that’s what your fellow liberals seem to support these days?

  24. tarran
    Do you really think the reason why conservatives, who love established authority with a vengance, hate public schools and teachers unions with such a vengance, is that the schools and teachers establish a docile love of established authority in their students? Conservatives are dumb, sure, but not THAT dumb.

    Before public schools you basically had a. charitable schools, usually very religious (talk about your indoctrination!) or b. private tutors for those who could afford them or c. nothing for those who could not get into the graces of a or afford b. Now one doesn’t need to have a Master’s Degree to see that such a system had tremondous incentives to foster indoctrination and docility, much more than the current one.

  25. But it is illuminating that you only shrink from dictating what types of food parents are allowed to serve, and under what circumstances they compel their children to eat food they don’t like, because enforcement is problematic.

    There’s really not much for us to argue about. You and I have fundamentally different views of the proper relationship between individual and govt (or in your case, subject and govt).

  26. Occam: Your distinction isn’t quite right, is it? If making a kid take his vitamins and eat his veggies would make him live longer, then how is that different from the blood transfusion (which makes him live longer), in which you think state coercion is OK? Your “life and bodily integrity” standard would support both, since both are directly tied to “life and bodily integrity.”

    I mentioned the basis of the argument for requiring certain basic levels of education:
    1. to protect the future interests of the child (who cannot intelligently and voluntarily consent or choose what he thinks best until it would be too late)
    2. to protect the future interests of society (because things around us will be better with less horribly educated fellow citizens)
    Factor in that this can be done with much less intrusion into values such as parental autonomy and privacy, and you can see why someone could easily favor government intervention to get the kid the transfusion, require a base level of schooling, but not to make him eat his veggies…

  27. “You and I have fundamentally different views of the proper relationship between individual and govt (or in your case, subject and govt).”

    If that makes you feel better at nights, then go with it. But for the record, I don’t see subjects and government. I own the government. Me and you and that guy that lives next to you, we own it. All of us. It serves us, not the other way around. We all get together and tell it how to serve us. Majority vote wins (if you have a better idea I’d love to hear it).

    A majority of us think that the intrusion into parental autonomy and privacy of requiring a base level education is outweighed by the protection of the child’s and societies interests and so we’ve told our government to do that.

    Sorry, when we made this rule we had to make it for you and that guy next to you and me too, since even though you disagree it would thwart the very interests we are trying to protect to let everyone decide for his own whether to give his kid a crazy education or not (that is, the kid and society would, in our opinion, be harmed by those who did so). If you don’t like that you’re certainly free to persuade a majority that my view is wrong and then the government willdo what you want it to do.

  28. MNG,

    I never said I agreed with you on blood transfusions, you just assumed that. Even if I did, there is a difference between a clear and present threat to life that exists when a blood transfusion is needed, as opposed to a vague and distant “threat” to life caused by insufficient veggie consumption (if indeed there is such). It is quite possible that a child who does not eat veggies will not have his or her existence cut short by a millisecond because of it, for instance, if he or she dies of some other cause of death before reaching old age.

  29. I don’t think the government could ever properly force any adult to get a transfusion, to go to school, or to eat his veggies by the way. But kids are different. There’s no voluntary, knowing decision of the kids to respect for which there is a moral harm in subverting to create what are seen as moral goods (“for his own good”). You see, we’re closer than you may think. I like to give personal autonomy a hell of lot of weight against “general welfare.” Probably more than I can rationally justify, to be honest. But there is not the same personal autonomy concern for kids to weigh against the increase in welfare (note I still factor in parental autonomy to some [though admittedly lesser degree], I’m just old fashioned that way).

  30. I own the government. Me and you and that guy that lives next to you, we own it. All of us. It serves us, not the other way around. We all get together and tell it how to serve us. Majority vote wins (if you have a better idea I’d love to hear it).

    I own myself.

    You own yourself.

    It’s not a difficult concept, much as you’d like it to be.

  31. So your standard is actually “government can override personal decisions when there is a imminent threat to the person’s life” (like outlawing euthanasia?)? Or is it “government can override personal decisions of parent’s when there is an imminent threat to a child’s life?”

    Cuz if it’s the latter I got a hypo for you:

    A young child breaks his arm badly. If the arm is properly set, the kid will have a good arm when he grows up. If not, it will be forever hideously deformed and useless. His parents state they will not get it set because the breaking of it was “God’s will.” Can the government step in? Why or why not?

    I’m thinking our disagreement is just a matter of degree.

  32. I like to give personal autonomy a hell of lot of weight against “general welfare.”

    Until you make the choice to become a parent or an employer. Then you’re the majority’s slave, apparently.

    Anyone with a lick of sense isn’t going to become either in your dream society. Jobless and childless, your majority will bitch and complain about the unemployment rate and the social security shortfall, wondering where all their “positive rights” went. And I don’t think they’ll be any more successful getting their heads around it than you are.

  33. Way to ignore “bodily integrity”, MNG. joe has taught you well.

  34. “I own myself.

    You own yourself.”

    Gnarly.

    Who owns your, or my kids?

  35. Uhh, but your veggie exception would ignore “bodily integrity,” just on the grounds that it may have more incremental effects.

    But we can do better if you don’t like that one. The parent does not give his kid any vitamins. Any. Just cheetos. The kid gets a 45% increase in developing some disease when he hits 21.

    Intervene, or not?

    Again, it’s just a matter of degree. I think giving a kid a totally shit excuse for an education can fuck his life up as bad if not worse as a deformed arm…

  36. Who owns your, or my kids?

    That’s a tough one. Ultimately they own themselves, but are held in trust by their parents.

    But you sure as hell don’t own my kids, nor I yours. And the state, and the majority, don’t own either of ours.

  37. Uhh, but your veggie exception would ignore “bodily integrity,”

    Bodily integrity means (roughly) having all the parts of your body present and functioning. Failure to eat vegetables as a child has no direct effect on bodily integrity.

    The parent does not give his kid any vitamins. Any. Just cheetos. The kid gets a 45% increase in developing some disease when he hits 21.

    Ah, Captain Make-Shit-Up! I like this one too: what if going to a public school increased by 69% the chances that your heart shoots out of your chest like a cannonball by your 16th birthday. Would you still favor public school?

  38. I think Jacob’s been mixed up about this litigation from the start. The question is not whether home schooling is legal, but whether the school district is allowed to regulate or outlaw it. The previous court decision said they could, not that home schooling was illegal everywhere in the state.

  39. The parent does not give his kid any vitamins. Any. Just cheetos. The kid gets a 45% increase in developing some disease when he hits 21.

    Lifeboat ethics are always the last resort, aren’t they? What if the parent, then, MNG, demonstrated that he/she was more-than-perfectly capable of educating his/her child? Why support compulsory education then?

  40. MNG,

    Who owns your, or my kids?

    They own themselves. Duh. You accepted a responsibility to care for them, meeting certain minimum standards, until they are adults.

    Of course, what those minimum standards are is part of this debate.

    Majority vote wins (if you have a better idea I’d love to hear it).

    Always do what is right, even when the majority disagrees.

  41. MNG,

    I think giving a kid a totally shit excuse for an education can fuck his life up as bad if not worse as a deformed arm…

    I dont. I think quality of teachers is highly overrated. A kid who wants to learn will. Good parents help. Good teachers help (although less than good parents do).

    So, in order of importance:

    1. Kid’s will to learn
    2. Parents (notice the plural)
    3. Teachers

    #1 is affected by #2. I dont think #3 really helps for #1 if #2 isnt there.

  42. Ah, Captain Make-Shit-Up! I like this one too: what if going to a public school increased by 69% the chances that your heart shoots out of your chest like a cannonball by your 16th birthday. Would you still favor public school?

    I dont think you need to make shit up. What if going to public school makes you X% dumber than home schooling does?

    Based on results from things like the national spelling bee, I think this already exists. Maybe we should MANDATE that all parents home school their kids.

  43. Again, it’s just a matter of degree. I think giving a kid a totally shit excuse for an education can fuck his life up as bad if not worse as a deformed arm…

    So, do we take kids away from parents who are Nazis and teach them to admire Hitler? Or communists who teach them to admire Stalin? Or Jews/Christians who teach them to admire the Old-Testament God?

    And who decides this?

  44. robc/Angry optimist
    Of course in cases where the kid will get a better education from the parents, or rather where the parents can prove a certain basic level of competence for the job, we go with that; as pointed out upthread the case was about regulating homeschooling, i.e., requiring a certain amount of basic credentials. Sort of like saying, to merge some posts upthread, that parents have to have a base level of medical credentials before they administer the kid a blood transfusion.

    “Ultimately they own themselves, but are held in trust by their parents.” Trustees have many duties to the one they hold stuff in trust for, and these duties, when violated, are backed up by, you guessed it, society (our legal system). So you might say (in fact you do say) that if the parent-trustee violates his duty to the child (to get a blood transfusion) the state can step in and make things right. I just add that the state can do so in matters like education (where the parent seems to be engaging in a likely harmful choice)

  45. Another way to look at this is homeschooling allows for the possibility that an occasional, even rare, child will get a bad education, though all agree that the vast majority of parents who homeschool do a teriffic job.

    Public skooling guarantees that many will get a sub-par education, but at least they will all be equally bad.

  46. MNG,

    I assume we will fire all teachers/close all schools that fail to reach that base level of competence, right? The teacher’s union wont have a problem with that?

    where the parent seems to be engaging in a likely harmful choice

    Like allowing the kid to attend many state schools?

    Note: The last private school I attended was kindergarten. 1-grad school were all state schools.

  47. Public skooling guarantees that many will get a sub-par education, but at least they will all be equally bad.

    …Communism is the equal distribution of misery.

  48. Reasonable guys like MNG are what finally pushed me to embrace anarchy.

  49. Reasonable guys like MNG are what finally pushed me to embrace anarchy.

    I used to sound like him, until I realized how inconsistent such a belief system is.

    In this specific case, I think the right answer is pretty easy to come by:

    Parents don’t have the right to abuse their children; the members of the community in which the parents live have a moral imperative to protect the weak from predators, though I would argue this is a personal responsibility, not a collective (government) one.

    Nonetheless, the community can’t define “abuse” arbitrarily: there are limits derivable from natural law. Clearly, from freedom of thought, a parent teaching a child unpopular beliefs cannot qualify as abuse.

    Therefore, it is a parent’s right to raise a child to work on the family farm. Any opposition to that is purely a personal preference, but personal preferences do not trump rights. Refusing to give the child to the community for collective schooling is that parent’s right.

    [All the same, once the child is old enough to make the conscious decision to stay or leave, he has a right to reject his family and leave, with attempts to compel him back violative of his rights. There should be no “age of majority”; once a child is able to survive on his or her own, he or she is independent enough to have a full set of rights.]

  50. Tarran,

    Generally, it has been intended for religious indoctrination.

    While you may be correct about pre-Progressive Era education in the US, this statement is incorrect with regards to the reforms made in the 20th century. Dewey was all about making good little citizens. In fact, your newsletter quote proves this point.

    MNG,

    On the other note, most places require graduate education to be a teacher

    Which places are these? I know Maine is not included in your generalization because I am a state certified teacher with nothing more than a Bachelors.

  51. Texas doesn’t require post-graduate degrees, either. A BA is all you need, there. In fact, one may be able to get away with less. Not sure about that, but I know for certain that an advanced degree is not required.

  52. “there are limits derivable from natural law”

    Well, I think natural law is nonsense for that matter.

    But let’s assume its existence for a second: what about the natural right of the kid to not have decisions made for him by his parent that will negatively impact him for the rest of his life? I’ll hope that you don’t think the kid “belongs” to the parent like an article of property, few think that these days. If a parent makes the decisions for a child “in trust” as described above, then why not have society step in when the trustee is doing an unreasonable job in fulfilling his duties? We do it with trusts all the time. That’s all that parens patrie is about.

    You guys are long on rights, but that gets people not too far I would argue, because there can be a consideration of rights on both sides of this issue. There is the “right” of the parent to make decisions concerning their child’s upbringing, the “right” of society to make sure children aren’t raised to be stupid, or nuts, and the “right” of the child to have the decision maker in their life make decisions that won’t fuck their lives up before they get to the age to make their own choices…

    “I assume we will fire all teachers/close all schools that fail to reach that base level of competence, right?”

    We should do what we can to improve the quality teachers, of course though we must take into account employment contracts, even those that have been negotiated through collective bargaining. I mean, you value contracts, right? Well, when you take the bait frm conservative groups and bitch about those “teachers unions” screwing everything up, just remember that the schools “put up” with what they do because they have, well, a fucking contract with the teachers. And from what I’ve seen on H&R libertarians have some massive hard ons for contracts freely entered, so I’m not sure what your beef is…

  53. “Teachers in almost all states must have a Bachelor’s degree with the appropriate teacher preparation course and complete either a content-based or teaching-based Master’s degree within a stated number of years.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Certified_teacher#United_States

    Sure in some states you can still do it with the “Bachelors+”, but the Masters is increasingly becoming te norm in many places.

  54. “There should be no “age of majority”; once a child is able to survive on his or her own, he or she is independent enough to have a full set of rights.”

    So this would be, what, determined on a case by case basis (every runaway could go to court and have it determined whether he or she is “surviving” and therefore cannot be compelled back to his or her parents care)? And what judicial standard would be used to tell if a kid is “surviving” enough to trigger their rights? Consciousness? Calories taken in per day? Sorry squarerooticus, that’s just nuticus.

  55. Well, I think natural law is nonsense for that matter.

    So, in other words, you think the only rights you have are those the majority allows you to have?

    But let’s assume its existence for a second: what about the natural right of the kid to not have decisions made for him by his parent that will negatively impact him for the rest of his life? I’ll hope that you don’t think the kid “belongs” to the parent like an article of property, few think that these days.

    Did you actually read what I wrote? Let me quote it again so you don’t miss it this time:

    [All the same, once the child is old enough to make the conscious decision to stay or leave, he has a right to reject his family and leave, with attempts to compel him back violative of his rights. There should be no “age of majority”; once a child is able to survive on his or her own, he or she is independent enough to have a full set of rights.]

    I think you should be able to derive your answer about my opinion on children-as-property from that.

    There is the “right” of the parent to make decisions concerning their child’s upbringing, the “right” of society to make sure children aren’t raised to be stupid, or nuts, and the “right” of the child to have the decision maker in their life make decisions that won’t fuck their lives up before they get to the age to make their own choices…

    There are only two rights involved: those of the parents and those of the child. “Society” is not a human being and therefore does not have rights.

    While the child is in anyone’s home—including that of his parents—he or she must obey their wishes short of accepting abuse, at which point others in the community can help him or her assert those rights. It’s no different for children than it is for adults: when you’re in someone’s home, you have to obey their wishes short of accepting abuse. Once the kid leaves, he or she can do anything short of violating anyone else’s rights.

    If a parent chooses not to introduce certain concepts to the child, that is simply not a violation of the child’s rights. The child has no right to a certain arbitrary set of information you have decided is important. And if you argue that society needs him to be educated in order to further economic progress, you are arguing in favor of humans as cogs in the collective economic machine, a concept I abhor.

  56. 15 years in public education here.

    Some misconceptions are propagated above.

    Nonetheless, the community can’t define “abuse” arbitrarily: there are limits derivable from natural law. Clearly, from freedom of thought, a parent teaching a child unpopular beliefs cannot qualify as abuse.

    Abuse is not the principle used to regulate home-schooling. The principle is neglect. It is not regulated to prevent the teaching of unpopular beliefs, it is regulated to assure that basic skills are taught. A very different principle.

    For those interested in teacher certification requirements, this page give them for all 50 states.

    http://www.uky.edu/Education/TEP/usacert.html

    As for the contention that schooling is not about education, but indoctrination: this is true, to an extent…but the indoctrination goal has been couched in terms of the need for an educated populace (one of the ideas students are indoctrinated to believe) for so long that this has become the primary goal of the system.

    This is much like the constitution. “Goverment of the people” was a powerful meme that ended up meaning what it said over time even if it was not intended to include women, slaves, people without property, etc…Over time the meme became one that was widely believed and became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  57. every runaway could go to court and have it determined whether he or she is “surviving” and therefore cannot be compelled back to his or her parents care

    If the kid runs away, he is independent. Period. His survival at that point is his and only his concern, supportable by charity but not by compulsion: his parents must not be allowed to compel him to return. No court is required to determine this: instead, the answer is self-evident from the child’s desire and ability to leave.

    Sorry squarerooticus, that’s just nuticus.

    That’s very insightful of you. A good insult always seals an argument, doesn’t it?

  58. The principle is neglect.

    Is the parent refusing the child food? That would constitute abuse.

    Has the parent locked the child in a basement? That would constitute imprisonment.

    No?

    Then what rights of the child has the parent violated?

  59. Squarooticus,

    Read what I said.
    You contended that the state interest was in preventing certain ideas from being taught. This is not the case.

    Abuse and neglect are distinct concepts. One is active, one is passive.

  60. To stop abuse, you stop a specific action.

    To stop neglect you compel a specific action.

    Very different.

  61. If the kid runs away, he is independent. Period. His survival at that point is his and only his concern, supportable by charity but not by compulsion: his parents must not be allowed to compel him to return. No court is required to determine this: instead, the answer is self-evident from the child’s desire and ability to leave.

    The problem with dogmatic thinking is it results in ridiculous statements like this.

    Can a 3 year old “desire to leave” in the sense that you mean?

  62. Abuse and neglect are distinct concepts. One is active, one is passive.

    I’m not disagreeing with the distinction you offer. Nonetheless, not teaching a child mathematics does not violate his rights, and is therefore not actionable by a third party who would be willing to enforce the child’s rights.

    OTOH, if a third party wishes to teach a willing child mathematics, and the parent refuses to allow it, and refuses to allow the child to leave the household voluntarily, then the child’s rights are being violated.

    Bottom line for me: children are not slaves; their status is more akin to boarders who pay their rent by washing dishes, where the host family has certain responsibilities to care for the child as abilities develop. That set of responsibilities doesn’t preclude the right of the child to unilaterally declare himself emancipated and leave at any time, which is (unfortunately) how things are structured today.

  63. Can a 3 year old “desire to leave” in the sense that you mean?

    Almost certainly not, but a 3 year old isn’t going to benefit much from formal education, so it’s not clear how relevant that is to this thread.

  64. I’m not disagreeing with the distinction you offer. Nonetheless, not teaching a child mathematics does not violate his rights, and is therefore not actionable by a third party who would be willing to enforce the child’s rights.

    Many societies worldwide would disagree.

    Article 26.

    (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

    (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

    (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

    http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/eng.htm

  65. squarooticus | August 13, 2008, 11:49am | #

    Can a 3 year old “desire to leave” in the sense that you mean?

    Almost certainly not, but a 3 year old isn’t going to benefit much from formal education, so it’s not clear how relevant that is to this thread.

    Your statement indicated that you believe the desire to leave and the ability to leave were all it took to remove a parent’s right to compel the child to stay. At what point does a child’s desire to leave differ enough from a 3 year old that this kicks in?

  66. Neu Mejican:

    BTW, what I am presenting is not dogma: I derive my philosophy from simple, basic principles that people generally already agree on, even if they don’t recognize or follow them to their logical conclusions. You are the one who implies that we should not question existing ad hoc societal structures by analyzing them on base principles. That, sir, is dogma.

  67. 3 year old children can benefit from formal education, btw…

  68. At what point does a child’s desire to leave differ enough from a 3 year old that this kicks in?

    At what point is the child able to leave and not come running back to mommy for food and shelter? The answer is self-evident on a case-by-case basis.

  69. Many societies worldwide would disagree.

    That’s fantastic. Their preferences don’t trump individual rights. They may have force on their side right now, but that contradicts rather than defines natural law.

  70. BTW, what I am presenting is not dogma: I derive my philosophy from simple, basic principles that people generally already agree on

    Sounds like the definition of dogma to me.
    One man’s “base principles” are another man’s dogma.

    Axioms, or base principles, are by definition unexamined truths. You have built you argument on a set of unexamined principles that followed them to their logical conclusions. Even when those conclusions end up being invalid you will point to the axioms and the process and claim that the argument is valid.

    This is dogmatic thinking.

  71. pardon the typos…must got get coffee.

  72. Self-evident?

    Few things in life are self-evident.

  73. Axioms, or base principles, are by definition unexamined truths.

    I didn’t say they were axioms: I’m not a Randroid and don’t believe that natural law is exactly analogous to real analysis or set theory, or some other such nonsense. The principle of non-aggression is itself derived from human notions of right and wrong: aggression is, in essence, the basis for all things that most people would agree are “wrong”. I’ll take a system defined in such a way over a self-contradictory system based on ad hoc decisions any day.

  74. “Few things in life are self-evident.”
    Upon what do you base this axiom?

  75. Sorry. That was me.

  76. “Few things in life are self-evident.”
    Upon what do you base this axiom?

  77. Damned tags.

    Let me try that again.

    I base my statement upon observations of people disagreeing about the things that others claim are self-evident.

    I am open to persuasion.

    Squarooticus,

    I didn’t say they were axioms: I’m not a Randroid and don’t believe that natural law is exactly analogous to real analysis or set theory, or some other such nonsense. The principle of non-aggression is itself derived from human notions of right and wrong: aggression is, in essence, the basis for all things that most people would agree are “wrong”. I’ll take a system defined in such a way over a self-contradictory system based on ad hoc decisions any day.

    Sure, but you have arbitrarily decided upon which set of principles count as natural laws and which do not…then claimed that those who include a different set in the equation are making ad hoc, arbitrary decisions. If neglect is aggression, then positive rights flow from the principle of aggression. Above you defined denial of food as abuse, does this mean that children have a positive right to compel their parents to provide food? Is it aggressive of a parent to passively neglect their child? Or is the concept of neglect distinct from abuse and based on something other than aggression?

    Many believe that people have positive rights, such as the right to be educated just as you have a right as a child to be fed…

    Their preferences don’t trump individual rights.

    This attempt to change a claim of a right based on a principle into a preference, the same can be done for your any of the natural laws you are basing your decisions on…an arbitrarily determined, conveniently ambiguous set of “natural laws” supports ad hoc decision processes quite well.

  78. damn, coffee didn’t help

    “attempts”

  79. We are really more “guidelines” than actual rules…like the pirate code.

  80. Sure, but you have arbitrarily decided upon which set of principles count as natural laws and which do not…then claimed that those who include a different set in the equation are making ad hoc, arbitrary decisions.

    False. If you can come up with one or two sentences describing all of what is considered “wrong” by most people, and then derive your (heretofore ad hoc) conclusions from it, I will bow to your superior intellect.

    IOW: there’s a reason why libertarians have latched onto the non-aggression principle, and it isn’t out of convenience.

    Above you defined denial of food as abuse, does this mean that children have a positive right to compel their parents to provide food?

    I think it’s more accurate to say that their parents took upon that responsibility when they decided to have children. They effectively have a contract with their children to provide them food and shelter until they are old enough to fend for themselves. “Abuse” is (perhaps) an emotionally-charged shorthand for behavior in which the parents violate this contract.

    Many believe that people have positive rights, such as the right to be educated just as you have a right as a child to be fed…

    There’s a long way from “food and shelter” to “leftist indoctrination in government schools” or even “education by a group of people the parent doesn’t approve of”; it isn’t even a gray area IMO.

    FWIW, as I implied above, not all contracts are written in ink… but they are all restricted to two parties. Third parties, like government, do not come into the equation except as enforcers of pre-existing contracts. Furthermore, third parties may only insert themselves uninvited into a situation when one of the two parties is too weak to enforce his or her own rights; and even then, that third party’s involvement is limited to enforcing the rights of the protectorate, not to punishing the other party.

    Finally, that third party can’t violate anyone else’s rights in the process, which in particular means they can’t tax to provide this service. That precludes government involvement.

    The fact that I recognize the right of a child to unilaterally emancipate himself at any point he feels able to do so is a far more important point on which it appears you and I differ. I do not believe children are chattel or even pseudo-chattel until some legislatively-defined age of majority. They are, in fact, always endowed with a full set of rights but have no choice but to trade some freedom for protection early in life, at first because they don’t know any better (i.e., this behavior is instinctive) and later because they are not capable of terminating the contract and surviving on their own despite perhaps a desire to do so.

    Restricting children from terminating this contract once they desire to do so is an actual violation of rights, unlike a parent refusing to use his own resources to support organizations and beliefs he does not share.

  81. False. If you can come up with one or two sentences describing all of what is considered “wrong” by most people, and then derive your (heretofore ad hoc) conclusions from it, I will bow to your superior intellect.

    My superior intellect says that restricting “rights’ (i.e., just claims) to negative rights will result in less than optimal outcomes.

    There’s a long way from “food and shelter” to “leftist indoctrination in government schools” or even “education by a group of people the parent doesn’t approve of”; it isn’t even a gray area IMO.

    It is a long way from “right to education with a prior parental right to determine the form of that education” to “leftist indoctrination in government schools.” The topic, I thought, was whether the state had an interest in assuring that parents who determined that home-schooling is how they will educate their children do not educationally neglect their children.

    FWIW, as I implied above, not all contracts are written in ink… but they are all restricted to two parties.

    False…

    third parties may only insert themselves uninvited into a situation when one of the two parties is too weak to enforce his or her own rights; and even then, that third party’s involvement is limited to enforcing the rights of the protectorate, not to punishing the other party.

    An arbitrary line is being drawn here.
    I agree with the first half of it…children are a class of individuals who frequently require 3rd party enforcement due to their lack of power.

    But, the second half implies that child neglect is not criminal behavior…unless I am misreading you.

    I do not believe children are chattel or even pseudo-chattel until some legislatively-defined age of majority.

    Neither do I.
    I am, I believe, asserting that they have more rights than you recognize. A legislative age of majority places a burden on the parents more than it does on the child for the most part. In cases where the child is fleeing the parents and is able to demonstrate that they are self-sufficient, children are frequently granted adult status (or self-guardianship). In cases where the parents are shown to be neglectful or abusive, their rights as parents are terminated and the positive rights the child enjoys are provided for by the society at large.

  82. Sqaurooticus,

    I am outta here.
    I enjoyed the discussion.

    FWIW, I believe you are recognizing the same set of positive rights that I am, but reframing them as contractual obligations. If those contractual obligations are enforceable then they have the practical effect of being positive rights. Just as their are obligations placed on the parents by the unwritten contract, there will be obligations placed on the child. Mutual interdependence is a given in all human interactions. If you base your decisions solely on negative rights, then you ignore half of the equation. Including both rights and responsibilities will result in a more coherent and more sustainable system.

    This is the decision that has been made by the majority of societies in the world, and is what underpins the UN Declaration of Human Rights. It is no more or less arbitrary than a decision to couch things in terms of negative rights only. It is qualitatively different, however, in that it recognizes the interdependence of humans and the myth of self-sufficiency that many individuals cling to.

    Humans depend upon other humans and as a result those other humans have a positive right to reciprocal support. This is as important a principle as the non-aggression principle, imho.

  83. there, their, they’re…shuffle as needed.

    Sheesh.

    I guess I need better coffee.

  84. NM,

    The majority is always wrong.

  85. ^^^
    Above is an axiom I have determined thru observation.

  86. Neu Mejican:

    I had half of a treatise composed in response to your previous message, but decided to delete it in favor of a simple response to your last message.

    FWIW, I believe you are recognizing the same set of positive rights that I am, but reframing them as contractual obligations.

    Not exactly. “Positive rights” are always the dual of “disembodied or collective responsibilities”, which inevitably result in government coercion that violates actual (“negative”) rights. Taxation is robbery, and my right to be free from robbery always trumps your right to food, shelter, or health care.

    Framing it in terms of contracts clearly defines those involved: the child, brought into the world not of his own accord, and the parents, who by creating the child have responsibilities under this implicit contract. The scope of those responsibilities is debatable, as we’ve seen above… but the notion that they and only they are responsible for fulfilling them during the term in which the child cannot is strictly a result of my formulation. Having a “positive right” to food, shelter, etc. means that someone’s got to pay for it, which, under the lack of sufficient charity, must result in a taking under threat of force from an unrelated third party.

    I also dislike the term because it dilutes the meaning of the word “right”, something clearly evident from how few people today understand its meaning.

    Good discussion, though.

  87. Sort of like saying, to merge some posts upthread, that parents have to have a base level of medical credentials before they administer the kid a blood transfusion.

    This is a good example of a fundamental misunderstanding held by many of what teaching is. It isn’t technical like give blood transfusions or (the most popular example) piloting an aircraft. I have known superb teachers with no higher education and terrible teachers with doctorates in education.

    The idea that the state is competently able to determine and/or guarantee the quality of most teachers is easy to debunk. Just go to your local public school and sit in on a few classes.

  88. Not exactly. “Positive rights” are always the dual of “disembodied or collective responsibilities”

    Depends upon how they are formulated.

    A child has the positive right to be fed, educated, and cared for by their parents.

    This is not a disembodied collective responsibility, but the responsibility of a specified set of individuals.

  89. Also, there is a growing movement by homeschoolers called “unschooling.” Unschooling parents provide their kids with all the resources necessary to learn and leave them alone. I’ve read many interviews with college students who were unschooled. Some of them didn’t read until they were 10 or 11 (and then were reading Tolkien two or three years later). Some didn’t bother with fractions until it was time to prepare for the GED. But all of them turned out to be happy and informed and independent, which is all we can want for our kids to be.

    I’m too much of a control freak to unschool my kid, but knowing that it can work reminds me that the fundamental weakness of public school is that different kids learn different things at different times, which makes the arbitrary milestones we’re all familiar with, an impediment to real learning. And that kids, when given the right environment, want to learn things. It’s in their nature. Sometimes we (parents and especially the state) just have to get out of the way.

  90. This is not a disembodied collective responsibility, but the responsibility of a specified set of individuals.

    Then I agree that there’s no practical distinction between the two. Just don’t forget the “by their parents” part when making up laws. 😉

  91. implicit contract

    If an obligation exists, then it can justly be enforced. If contractual obligations are implicit in any relationship, then enforcement of those obligations are equivalent to a positive right (just claims).

    Implicit obligation = positive right when it is a positive obligation = expectation that you do something.

    Implicit obligation = negative right when it is a negative obligation = expectation that you refrain from doing something.

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