Logic abuse

Despite 38 home visits, social workers didn’t realize that four children adopted by a New Jersey family were starving. The New York Times proposes a solution: regulate home schooling.

Remember that these poor children were wards of the state, which gave them to the people now charged with their abuse. The state had every chance — 38 visits by child welfare specialists — to notice the children’s condition. If there’s a case for forcing daily abuse checks at school for all children, this isn’t it.

The Times wants states to require parents to tell the state they’re homeschooling, so the state can “ensure that every American child is learning basic skills.”

The Times is wrong about the law, writes Daryl Cobranchi.

The state can compel attendance, not education. Otherwise, private schools could not exist. That issue was settled by Pierce v Society of Sisters (1925).

I wonder about ensuring that every child is learning basic skills. Also note that the government’s tests show that about one third of public school students are “below basic” in reading and math skills.

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Comments

  1. I love it. It’s not the State’s Child Welfare services that needs scrutinizing, nooo — it’s home schoolers!!

  2. PJ/Maryland says:

    Seems like a typical clueless NY Times editorial. I’m guessing the editor(s) who wrote this doesn’t know any home schoolers, and dislikes the lack of state oversight on principle.

    And once we’ve decided what we want our readers to think, we can decide which facts to leave out, like the 38 visits by social workers. (Try to imagine a system that checked up on a home school more than 38 times in two years!)

    I can’t imagine circumstances that would lead a Manhattanite to home school, so it’s not surprising the Times is clueless about it.

    When the authorities in a small New Jersey town discovered four starved boys… I love that “authorities”. It’d be more accurate to say, “When a neighbor discovered a starving boy going thru his trash, he called the cops. The cops investigated, and now some authorities at NJ’s Division of Youth & Family Services have been fired.”

    …the state most certainly has an obligation to ensure that every American child is learning basic skills.

    Should we be encouraged by this? Apparently the NY Times thinks all the kids in public schools are learning basic skills, and is now worried about home schooled kids.

    As an aside, if local school districts (or states) offered financial assistance or textbooks or supplies to home schoolers, they would have a ready-made system to track students being home schooled.

  3. argh.

  4. PJ – as far as I can tell, most states offer assistance to homeschoolers in the form of buildings with teachers.

    Now, this assistance comes with strings. If you’d like to spend my tax dollars in your home, according to your personal standards, then what goes on in your home better be public information. Could I see your utility bill? I’m not sure you’re using the money wisely. And why haven’t you cut down that sick tree by the garage?

  5. The New York Times proposes a solution: regulate home schooling.

    Howls of derisive laughter, Bruce!

  6. PJ/Maryland says:

    PJ – as far as I can tell, most states offer assistance to homeschoolers in the form of buildings with teachers.

    Yes, this is exactly equivalent to the way the the food stamp program chooses the food that people must buy, or the low income housing system requires people to live where they’re placed. Oh wait, that’s not true.

    If you’d like to spend my tax dollars in your home, according to your personal standards, then what goes on in your home better be public information.

    Gee, JC, does this apply to Social Security, too? Government employees (like teachers)? The military? Maybe we could just install webcams everywhere, it would be easier.

    The per pupil cost of that building full of teachers (not to mention counselors, administrators, and coaches) is at least $5k most places and over $10k in some. Home schoolers pay taxes, too, as do households without any kids at all (like mine!).

    If, say, a stipend of $500 for curriculum and supplies would encourage more parents to home school (and save the system $5k+), I’m all in favor of it. I’d expect there to be strings attached, and I’d expect that some parents would refuse the money to avoid the strings. My point was that such a system would at least provide the framework for a tracking system, as well as saving money.

    I would note that the Times editorial basically calls for the strings without the money or the savings.

    (P.S. It’s not a bad idea to keep the school building open in the evenings with a few teachers to assist both regular students and home schooled ones… but generally teacher union contracts wouldn’t allow this.)

  7. Very late to the party—

    I’ve been out-of-town so I missed this. My comment about private schools not being able to exist was a little obtuse. What I meant was that if the government gets to define the level of basic skills, it could easily manipulate these to force private schools (and homeschools) to modify their curricula. For example, the NY Regents math test has some questions about “tree and leaf” diagrams (or some such nonsense). I never heard of them, don’t use them, and won’t be teaching them to my kids (and I’ve had three sememsters of calculus plus ordinary differential equations). But the government might just decide that this is part of some minimal level of performance. If you don’t teach it (as a homeschooler), you’re abusing your kids. No thanks.

  8. The State did so well with oversight via the social workers, that state oversight of homeschooling should keep such exceptions from falling through the cracks you could drop a buss through.

  9. This is the blog I was looking for…