Free Minds & Free Markets

Perris 'House of Horror' Allegations a Bad Pretext for Regulating Homeschooling

Every awful situation cannot be remedied by government regulation.

This idea may come as a shock to some lawmakers, but every awful situation cannot be remedied by government regulation. Here's another simple lesson that might cause gasps in the state and federal capitols: Sometimes the government overseers, flush with power and lacking in accountability, cause more mayhem than they rectify. Sometimes there just isn't any easy solution for dealing with the human condition.

Those are important points to remember following a troubling news event from last month. In the Riverside County suburb of Perris, police found "13 brothers and sisters who appeared to have been held captive by their parents," with some allegedly found "chained and padlocked to their beds inside the dark and foul-smelling house," according to the Press-Enterprise. Detailed allegations made by prosecutors turned my stomach—and sound like something from a horror movie.

When bad things happen, we find two instinctual reactions. First, there's the natural desire to "do something." Next, policy makers—especially those with particular agendas—follow the advice of the current Chicago mayor, Democrat Rahm Emanuel: "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." Unfortunately, the things that are done usually are best left undone.

In this case, David and Louise Turpin, the parents of children who are 2 to 29 years old, were apparently homeschooling their children. This has turned a story about alleged human depravity into a call for tougher oversight of homeschools, which now educate around 2 million students each year throughout the United States. There almost certainly are some bad "schools," but it's wrong to use this case to clamp down on a bright spot in education.

Assemblyman Jose Medina, the Riverside Democrat who represents Perris in the state legislature, told the Press-Enterprise that he is "extremely concerned about the lack of oversight the state of California currently has in monitoring private and home schools." He proposes an annual state inspection of homeschooling residences. Note that Medina is an ally of the California Teachers' Association, the powerful teachers' union that is no friend of homeschooling. In 2008, the CTA praised a court ruling that almost led to the criminalization of non-credentialed parents who taught their children at home.

I recall those age-old battles. California has long had a work-around for homeschools. Such schooling is not specifically protected in the education code, but homeschool parents register their schools with their respective county Department of Education as private schools. In 2002, the state wanted to take control of the certification process. At the time, it insisted that homeschooling (if parents lack an education credential) was "not authorized in California."

That's water under the bridge, and even Delaine Eastin, the superintendent of public instruction at the time and 2018 gubernatorial candidate, now supports homeschooling as an option. But is it any wonder that homeschooling parents, the vast majority of whom do exemplary work, are fearful of renewed oversight by officials who might not always be supportive of their particular educational choice? Who would want officials, and even Child Protective Services, poking around their "schools," which actually are their homes?

I understand the instinctive call for more government oversight and inspections, but who oversees the government overseers?

The CPS system isn't exactly unblemished. Orange County was forced to pay $9.6 million—its largest liability judgment ever—after a mother "alleged that social workers used fabricated evidence to cause a court to remove her two daughters from her custody for six and a half years," according to an Orange County Register report. A 2014 report from the California State Auditor found myriad problems in some county child welfare agencies. The Los Angeles County agency has been the source of serious problems for years. It's not unfounded to fear having these folks looking around your home.

A little more perspective is in order. Last year, the Associated Press reported that "Across the U.S., thousands of students have been sexually assaulted, by other students, in high schools, junior highs and even elementary schools—a hidden horror educators have long been warned not to ignore." We can find all sorts of horrific incidents involving the state's system of public education. Presumably there's no lack of inspections at public schools. Indeed, public-school inadequacy and failures are the main reasons that homeschooling has grown dramatically in recent years.

It's fortunate that the authorities intervened on behalf of the kids in Perris. But it's wrong to use this situation as a pretext to empower agencies that can't even get their own houses in order. The final word goes to Home School Legal Defense Association, as quoted by KQED: "We can't prevent evil and trying to prevent it by taking away the freedom of law-abiding people is not a price our society should pay."


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  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    We can't prevent evil

    No. They can't prevent evil.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "But if we don't let the government supervise and regulate home cooking, some people might not eat nutritiously!"

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    So, according to the establishment stooges, because this one couple of deranged vermin kept their children in conditions slightly worse than those endured by students of inner city schools (supervised by the government) living in assisted living housing (often managed by the government) we should turn even more authority over to.....wait for it......the government.

    Yeah, that makes sense.

  • Kivlor||

    Who would want officials, and even Child Protective Services, poking around their "schools," which actually are their homes?

    Who would oppose officials checking in on the wellbeing of children? Checkmate anarchists!

    Seriously though, I was talking the other day about homeschooling my kids, and several people in my office freaked out saying that anyone who does that is going to treat their kids like these monsters did. I just said "To think you'd abuse and torture your own children if you had to watch them for the 8 hours they're in school. You must really hate your children. That's fucked up." They shut up.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    In all fairness, if I had to watch children for 8 hours a day, I'd have the urge to torture them.

  • Libertarian||

    Over 100 people die EVERY DAY on government roads. When are we going to quit funding this madness?

  • Kivlor||

    Assemblyman Jose Medina, the Riverside Democrat who represents Perris in the state legislature, told the Press-Enterprise that he is "extremely concerned about the lack of oversight the state of California currently has in monitoring private and home schools."

    It's not enough to go after the home-schooled kids. We're gonna grab for the Catholic schools and Independent Academies too!

    I shouldn't be surprised honestly. This is Commiefornia, and they can't allow any children to escape their progressive indoctrination centers.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Based on that picture, Prince Valiant has really let himself go.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    What's the saying, anyway? "The best laws are those based on strong emotion"? Something like that, i'm pretty sure.

  • Illocust||

    I'm getting the feeling I was lucky to be born when I was. I don't know what the fall out of this will be, but I get the feeling it will be a whole lot harder to be homeschooled like I was five years from now.

  • silver.||

    Worst case, it'll be illegal, but a lot of people will still do it to some extent. Parents spend more time with their kids than all of the educators combined, school is boring and not many are paying full attention, and there are good public school teachers to counterbalance the 'narrative.'

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Homeschooled, and now you're posting on libertarian websites??!?!? We do need more regulation!!


  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm not sure what any of this has to do with gun control, but I think we should use this "House of Horror" story to ban assault weapons, too--just to be safe.

    P.S. Is there a statue of Robert E. Lee anywhere nearby?

  • silver.||

    Antifa was out there shooting at the statue with AR15s earlier.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Goddamn intersectionalists! [shakes Fist]

  • ||

    1960's - riding a wave of "anti-establishmentarianism", the political Left embraces homeschooling as a way of freeing children from the rigid, outdated school system forced upon them by "The Man".

    2010s - now firmly in power, the political Left rejects homeschooling because it allows children to be free from the same rigid, outdated school system.

    Ahh, human nature!

  • Citizen X - #6||

  • silver.||

    Nobody should have power!

    Except us. We know what's best. We liberalized society as 20-somethings, imagine our abilities now!

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "Never let a serious crisis go to waste." This meme was coined by none other than Milton Friedman (yes, that Milton Friedman), who wrote in Capitalism and Freedom (1982) "When [a] crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around," the moral being have your ideas in place so that you can feed them to the powers that be. Naomi Klein (yes, that Naomi Klein) wrote a whole book, Disaster Capitalism, "exposing" the evil Dr. Friedman's plan for world control. Rahm lifted the idea back in 2008 and now it's a liberal plot to take over the world.

    Uncle Miltie was making a quite sensible point: public policy makers won't make a significant change absent a crisis. Why should they? So don't get upset just because your ideas don't get recognized for their intrinsic merit. Keep refining them and hope that your moment comes.

  • CE||

    I think the libertarian moment was in 2015. According to Reason.

  • chipper me timbers||

    ""We can't prevent evil and trying to prevent it by taking away the freedom of law-abiding people is not a price our society should pay.""

    Perfect quote that can be applied to just about every single law on the books.

  • Robert||

    For all we know, the Perris children may have been schooled just fine. That wasn't the problem any more than John Gacy had a problem w, I don't know, the HVAC code.

  • Trainer||

    Statistically, almost all the abuse cases are kids in schools. I think we should close schools if we really want to stop child abuse.


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