Uncle Sam knows best

Michelle Malkin rips a proposed New Jersey law that would require annual testing and medical check-ups of home-schooled children. The sponsor says it’s inspired by the horrible case of a couple charged with starving four foster kids, who were kept out of school. In 38 home visits, state social workers didn’t notice the children’s suffering.

Indeed, legislators and the liberal media (witness CBS News’ anti-homeschooling hit piece last October) are pushing for increased regulation of homeschooling parents, including criminal background checks, because the grass-roots movement gravely threatens their socialist agenda of promoting dependency. God forbid children be taught by their own parents without oversight from the all-knowing, all-caring, infallible wizards of the child welfare-public school monopoly!

A crackdown on innocent homeschooling families to cure the incompetence of government child welfare agencies is like a smoker lopping off his ear to treat metastatic lung cancer. It’s a bloody wrong cure conceived by a fool who caused his own disease.

Actually, it’s like lopping off someone else’s ear.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. I hate to admit to agreeing with any “big brother” proposal; but, too many children fall through the cracks now. In a situation where the child may never be seen in public, there has to be some sort of continuing “independent confirmation” of a child’s general welfare……

  2. Steve LaBonne says:

    But if they already failed to accomplish any actual oversight in THIRTY-EIGHT home visits, what makes you think that the proposed law would accomplish anything, other than handing various tax-eating parasites another tool for harassing the vast majority of home-schoolers who are doing a great job?

  3. Suggest an alternative which doesn’t totally abandon the minor children…(an incomplete and partially effective oversight program is better than no program)

  4. Steve LaBonne says:

    The alternative is for the current child-service agency under current laws to start doing its job! This is _not_ a homeschooling problem.

  5. Hey, why don’t we just hand them over to the federal government at birth. Or maybe we should have a Federal Potential Parent Evaluation Program. The FPPEP would have standardized tests to see if you are allowed to have children in the first place. You know DNA , psycological tests, etc…

    sarcasm off/

  6. To repeat what roux is saying… government schooling doesn’t begin til age 5 or 6 — can we really afford to wait that long? It’s not as if abuse starts at age 5. We must have all children government-supervised! Won’t anyone think of the children?!

  7. Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls,

    I am associated with law enforcement and security, and my wife is in Texas Child Protective Services: Children are abused all the time. The worst is against the youngest. This is partially due to their age/size and ease of “damage.” But, also because, prior to school, There are no outside “eyes” watching.
    I am not a fan of big brother or big government, but after you’ve held the dead and battered body of a 4-year old in your arms, your views on somethings change…

  8. Insufficiently Sensitive says:

    Nice dramatic anecdote, Bill. But it probably happened in a family without homeschoolers – you did omit that little detail.

    War on homeschooling based on dramatic anecdotes is no better than generalizations – such as racism – which find a bad apple in a population and extrapolate it as characteristic of the whole population.

    It’s not homeschooling that’s the problem, it’s lousy parenting, which no amount of intrusive gummint inspectors will completely eliminate.

  9. “I am not a fan of big brother or big government, but after you’ve held the dead and battered body of a 4-year old in your arms, your views on somethings change…”

    Okay Bill, so what did you think when you saw that “In 38 home visits, state social workers didn’t notice the children’s suffering”? Why was your reaction to harrass homeschoolers?

  10. This might hurt Bill. But, it isn’t possible to save every child.

    I am the product of a broken family; sent to foster care, send back home to a pot-smoking, bi-polar parent and finishing my teenage years in a foster home. Because of my past experience and my ability to live a moral life, I consider myself to be a very loving and caring parent. I would die to protect my two year old.

    But everyday, I see those who don’t love thier children. People who feel that thier child is a hindrance. People who do immoral things to children. I can’t take them all in. Trust me, if I could, I would.

    A child isn’t protected just because the government is involved. Look at recent cases in Florida and Baltimore where the Government agency responsible didn’t know children were missing, until the were found dead.

    Of course, if this wasn’t a partisan ploy, all children would have to take an annual test and have an annual medical exam.

  11. I.S.: It was a four-year old (i.e. not in school yet) However, it was known to extended family members only…..

    Floyd: Those people were relieved/reassigned and fired. (They are syill under investigation for possible criminal charges)……..I’am not picking on Homeschoolers because they are homeschoolers, I’m afraid for the child who is never seen by the outside world (other than the extended family)…

  12. Bill, the only solution, short of government intrusion greater than anything that is alleged for the Patriot Act, is for people to be involved in their neighbor’s lives. They need to talk to parents, kids, invite them over, etc. In short, interact often.
    Families that are isolated (or a part of a deviant subculture) allow the problems to persist to tragedies. The government could focus on these groups, but cries of profiling will inevitably arise.

  13. Bill said >> In a situation where the child may never be seen in public, there has to be some sort of continuing “independent confirmation” of a child’s general welfare……
    He also said >> But, also because, prior to school, There are no outside “eyes” watching.

    The children in the CBS news report were not ‘hidden’- they were foster children and had received repeated visits from social services. Surely social services saw the signs. Why were those children not taken from that home sooner?

    There are thousands of abused and neglected children in public and private institutions who are seen by many ‘eyes’ outside of the family, neighbors, friends, clergy and doctors that homeschoolers are usually seen by, and they are still abused and neglected.

    But, hey, I guess you can go by ‘guilty until proven innocent,’ as long as you’re upholding the illusion that it’s all “For The Children.” What would you have done-have a social worker follow each child around from birth until adulthood, or until they start attending school with all of those ‘extra eyes,’ just in case something might happen?

  14. You people are scary: You’re as bad as the Bush equals Hitler crowd. You’ve got your ideology and the hell with the facts or reason!

    Most children DO receive a medical exam (albeit a quickie {eyes, ears, etc}) every year in elementary school and most children DO undergo annual exams (more and more going to standardized.) So, why should homeschooled kids not be subject to the same standards. (standards that you same people continually gripe about as too lax)…… Well folks????

  15. [advocatus-diaboli]
    Bill: Because it’s none of the State’s god-damn business to enforce such things, for any children (except those abandoned to the State’s care).

    I have nothing, actually, against the State doing basic eye-and-ear exams to ensure the kids it forces to be educated by its minions can see and hear them, nor, since it’s doing the same, that it measure their progress. I do not see that that necessary evil indicates that it’s a good idea to expand said necessary evil to where it is not necessary… even if to do so might save a few of The Children(tm).

    Because, you see, long-term effects of such policies and what they lead to also harm The Children(tm). This seems harsh and callous, but The State is not a friend of The Children(tm), really, in the long run – the calculus of total overall harm does not necessarily lead to the same result as the immediate apparent benefit of the case at hand indicates.

    [/advocatus-diaboli]

  16. In California, children do not receive medical exams — vision checks or anything else — in school. School nurses were cut years ago. At most, there’s a nurse who shows up one morning a week to do head lice checks.

    Teachers report child abuse suspicions but rarely report the far more common cases of neglect: Kids who show up dirty, tired and hungry, but with no visible bruises. That’s because teachers assume it’s a poverty problem with no solution. And children are very reluctant to turn in abusive parents.

  17. Steve LaBonne says:

    Bill, you’re just not getting it. NJ has failed disastrously in oversight of _foster children_- that’s what this awful case is about, not home-schooling. How is imposing new requirements on homeschoolers- and a new responsibility on the state child-welfare bureaucracy- a rational response to the revelation that the state has completely failed (38 visits and they saw nothing wrong!!) to fulfill its _current_ responsibilities for _foster kids_?? The proposal is nonsensical on its face. It really represents the worst in bureaucratic ass-covering and blameshifting. It’s sad to see a sensible person like you taken in by this scam.

  18. Richard Brandshaft says:

    1) As to the piece Ms. Jacobs quoted: any program that attempts to see to the welfare of people who aren’t rich has always been a “socialist agenda” — including things we take for granted today. Every social safety net has been implemented against conservative opposition. It took the 1964 Goldwater debacle to get conservatives to agree to the very concept of government old age pensions.

    2) Let’s go back to the basics. We have agreed society should see to it that children are schooled and not abused. Even conservatives don’t explicitly disagree with that. That requires (a) definitions of “schooled” and “abused”, and (b) some attempt to ensure (a) is met.

    Two things happen. First, cops will be cops — and child protection workers have a cop mentality. Laws intended to stop children from being raped, beaten to death, or starved are used against a mother who slaps her child for stealing. Cops always prefer puffing up petty offenses to going after real criminals.

    Second, conservatives will implement (b) by any means short of actual spending. Then they blame the agencies involved for incompetence. That may be true; low pay and overwork rarely attract the best people. The conscientious ones are more apt to realize they aren’t doing any good and leave.

    I recall a news report about one state (I forget which) that holds its child protection agency chief responsible for dead children. The only result is a rapid turnover of chiefs. Conservatives will point out that money is not SUFFICIENT — that any amount of money can be misspent. They seem to think noticing this is an intellectual breakthrough. (Perhaps for conservatives it is.) That doesn’t mean money isn’t NECESSARY. The difference between sufficient and necessary is lost on conservatives who accuse liberals of being fuzzy minded.

  19. Sigivald, Does “Provide for the general welfare…” ring a bell? It IS the State’s business.. (at least you acknowledged the link between God and State..) 🙂

  20. Steve,

    I’m afraid you are the one “taken in” by your slavish adherence to Libertarianism ‘uber alles’…This law doesn’t say “Hey! Lets give everyone except homeschoolers a break….”

    Let’s apply the same logic to Homeland Defence: Since airport security (lack of) was the major target of 9/11, we should expect everyone to wail and ring their hands if we try to increase water plant security. After all, no water plant was sucessfully attacked. We’d just be picking on them if we required them to increase their security just because airport security was lacking…..

  21. Steve LaBonne says:

    Bill, I am not a libertarian. And please reread what I wrote. The state needs to get its act together with respect to its current oversight responsibilities before proposing to give itself new ones entirely unrelated to the problem at hand- that’s plain common sense. Not once have you responded to that point with anything remotely relevant. Your way-off-base analogy continues the trend.

  22. It does seem hypocritical to mandate increased inspections, checkups, etc., on families that homeschool, without instituting the same requirements on all families with children below school age. Otherwise it smacks of an anti-homeschooling agenda.

  23. Steve,

    Sorry buddy! If I have one perfect tree, but allowed the rest of the forest to die while I was perfecting that one tree, I’ve been very short-sighted and ultimately self-defeating.

    Also, you don’t (generally speaking) pass new laws to fix a broken system (or part, thereof); you pass laws to produce new systems OR to be more or less inclusive with respect to the current systems (broken or not).

    In other words: New Jersey has acknowledged the problems (as have other states) and is working to fix them. Adding homeschool children requirements is NOT a postrequisite act to fixing what’s broken, but a concurrent, independent act.

  24. Mark Odell says:

    Bill wrote: I am associated with law enforcement and security, and my wife is in Texas Child Protective Services: Children are abused all the time.

    Yes — by the state.

    You people are scary: You’re as bad as the Bush equals Hitler crowd.

    Well, I can readily understand why we advocates of liberty are regarded as “scary” by minions of the state such as you claim the two of you are.

    And, when W stops behaving in ways which lead to Hitler-like results, we’ll stop pointing out the similarities.

    You’ve got your ideology and the hell with the facts or reason!

    Since you’ve offered none, I really wouldn’t know.

    (Score:-1, Flamebait)

    Sigivald, Does “Provide for the general welfare…” ring a bell?

    No. Please cite your source (and be sure to quote it accurately). And then, please explain how you reach the conclusion that it applies broadly, to things like children, instead of applying narrowly, to things like the government staying within its specifically-limited grant of authority.

    I’m afraid you are the one “taken in” by your slavish adherence to Libertarianism ‘uber alles’…

    As an admitted minion of the state, you appear to be the expert on “slavish adherence” in this particular thread.

    Your association of the phrase ‘über alles’ (and what it connotes) with libertarianism (note the small ‘l’) betrays, at best, a serious misunderstanding of what it is: nice try at slinging mud, though.

    This law doesn’t say “Hey! Lets give everyone except homeschoolers a break….”

    No, it merely makes the homeschooled-child slave equal in rights to the government-schooled-child slave (zero equals zero).

    Let’s apply the same logic to Homeland Defence: Since airport security (lack of) was the major target of 9/11, we should expect everyone to wail and ring their hands if we try to increase water plant security. After all, no water plant was sucessfully attacked. We’d just be picking on them if we required them to increase their security just because airport security was lacking…..

    I’m not sure where to begin with this particular cloud of verbal sepia, except to point out that your premise is wrong.

  25. Steve LaBonne says:

    Bill, you still don’t get it. These people _were not genuine home schoolers at all, nor were they actual parents_- they were foster parents. The problem is with NJ’s oversight of _foster parents_; this incident is _not relevant at all_ to any claim of supposed problems with homeschoolers. It is therefore completely illegitimate to target homeschoolers in response. As well as extremely hubristic on the state’s part, since it has exhibited a total inability to look after kids who _really are_ its legal responsibility. You still haven’t managed to generate a relevant response to this! You seem to have an agenda unrelated to the actual NJ incident- just as the people pushing the new law do.

  26. Joanne, you aren’t entirely correct. Coming to school dirty, etc. is often reported, tracked, put in files, checked up on. Often, there isn’t anything that can be really done about it. It isn’t a crime to be a bad housekeeper, put stained clothes on your kid, or come to school smelling like the joint your father smoked in the car on the way. We try to meet what needs we can, which isn’t enough, and perhaps better than nothing.

    All kids in the public school system *do* get a physical exam of some sort if only to get the required immunizations or to participate in PE/sports. One reason people home school is to avoid the vaccines, I know. I don’t think we can legislate good parenting — it’ll turn into a lot of paperwork in which the same negligent parents will slip through the cracks as usual, and the ok parents will do what they’re supposed to with some paperwork on top of it.

    Bill, I know what you’re saying, man. I have these kids in my classes. I just don’t think mandatory check-ups are an effective way to get the results we’d all like.

  27. Walter Wallis says:

    One wonders what horrible environment the State “rescued” these children from.

    At least in California, any one who talks about overworked underpaid public workers had better duck.

  28. In California, parents can opt out of vaccinations if they state a religious objection. Or at least they could when my daughter was in elementary school. And my nephew’s school almost had an epidemic — pertussis, I think — because so many parents had opted out.

  29. “Let’s go back to the basics. We have agreed society should see to it that children are schooled and not abused. Even conservatives don’t explicitly disagree with that. That requires (a) definitions of “schooled” and “abused”, and (b) some attempt to ensure (a) is met. ”

    It also requires a definition of “WE”. I agree that “WE” as a society should see to it that children and schooled and not abused, but does that mean that the government has to do it? That is the essense of the objection to homeschooling exception and vouchers for K-12 schools.

    There are many children who have not needed government schools or Family Services (whatever they are called in your state) to succeed in life. There are some that have not. But to say that the government (WE) has to be involved is ludicris and smacks of ‘Big Brother’.

  30. Richard Cook says:

    Bill just does not like the fact that the states power is not all encompassing. Problem: the state is not doing its job in child welfare. Bill’s solution: more state control. It didn’t work the first time, what makes you think it will work a second time?

    There are alternatives to the state Bill, get over it.

  31. My kids went to school for five years here in California before I pulled them out to homeschool them. When we first registered them, we had to take a form to our doctor to fill out and return, and when my daughter started middle school, we had to provide a copy of her immunization record. That was the extent of required medical information we had to provide, other than if they had medical conditions that required the administration of medicine during school hours. Prior to moving to California, we lived in North Carolina, and the only medical information they wanted was the same as California- a physical form completed by the family doctor and a copy of immunization records when registering for the first time. Both places, I believe, have waiver forms for the parents to fill out if they so wish. They’ve never done eye and hearing exams in the schools. When I was a kid going to school in Virginia, we had annual eye, hearing, scoliosis, and lice checks. I think they’ve cut back to just vision and hearing screenings upon enrollment, and in grades 3, 7, and 10. I also think it varies by district.

  32. The underlying argument here is really the classic one of the left/liberal/socialist view that government control is good/desirable/necessary to protect individuals and their civil rights vs. the right/conservative/libertarian view that govenment control should be minimal and government power severely restricted to prevent abuses of individuals and their civil rights.

    These fundamental, opposing philosophies are the basis and unspoken assumptions that color everyone’s position and arguments for/against this issue and many others.

    One of the reasons that such a large number of Americans tend to be individualistic/anti-government is that the process for settling America was essentially one of selection for traits of independence, nonconformity, and social rebellion. Those who had traits valuing conformity, dependence, and social structure tended not to end up coming/being sent to the New World.

  33. Would all you leftie socialists whose ancestors haven’t been here for at least 300 years please leave….

  34. Bill: Presence of “provide for the general welfare” in the preamble to the Constitution does not justify any and all interventions by the State that can be labeled as such, in either moral or legal-constitutional terms. (Plus, my devil’s advocate argument was essentially a libertarian one, and libertarian state conceptions generally limit the state’s provision for “the general welfare” to defense and enforcement of laws, and specifically not to intrusive bureaucracies intended to save mankind from itself.) In general, “provide for the general welfare” tends to be interpreted as “the state can do whatever it wants as long as we frame this in terms of Doing Good Things”, and I submit that that is a very, very dangerous principle to give legal power. No matter how Purely Good our intentions and early implementations may be, the slope to, say, removing children from parents who have the wrong political, religious, or social beliefs is slippery, and probably shorter than you think. (Is it abusive of children for them to be raised by parents who think it’s wrong to be gay? Conversely, is it wrong for them to be raised by parents who don’t think that? The issue of “who decides” starts to matter very rapidly, which is another strength of the libertarian critique; the State cannot abuse power it lacks.)

    Richard: Just to deal with 1) in your conservative-bashfest, has it occurred to you that with the way almost every state-run “old-age pension” setup in the world is a fiscally unsupportable disaster, it may be that the “socialists” were wrong about it being a good idea, and that the pre-Goldwater “conservatives” were actually, well, right? Even if it means that the State isn’t the Mommy of the old, and that their own bad luck or poor decisions could make them miserable?

    Just, you know, sayin’. Accusing those “conservatives” of being wrong about “socialist agendas” works a lot better if you don’t pick an example (old-age pensions) that has worked pretty much inversely in proportion to the “socialism” of its implementation. (As I understand it, one of the only solvent/”sustainable” national pension plans is a South American one where the system is nearly… er… privatised. Imagine that; when people have a system where they can’t simply vote for the guy who’ll increase their take and to hell with who’ll pay for it, things don’t fail as horribly as those cases where the inverse holds.)

  35. Where does the perception that home schooled children exist out of the public eye come from? Most home schooling families I know (including mine) are out and about all the time, partly because we are free from the restrictions of the public school schedule.

    The argument that some isolationists home school their children, therefore all home schoolers must be isolationists is faulty logic.

    The assertion that people home school in order to be free from immunization requirements is also wrong. When my kids were in public school, I signed a personal beliefs exemption.

    Why should those of us who are guilty of no crime or negligence be required to trot out our children for inspection to prove we are guilty of no crime or negligence?

  36. jeff wright says:

    The problem with home schooling is that there is often a public and governmental perception that the only people who would engage in it are rightwing-militia types from Idaho. This, together with the public education and social welfare lobbies, colors the entire debate and snookers many well-meaning legislators into stupid actions.

    I say right on to Michelle Malkin and the home schoolers. Just what’s so great about what their kids are missing in the public schools? Nothing. And child welfare services? They do a great job. Right. We in California are entertained periodically by horror stories about kids sent back to abusive parents because, well, just because those kids need their crack-addict mom.

    BTW, Bill lost me when he gave his and his wife’s credentials. Hate to say it, Bill, but the police and the welfare services are all too often co-conspirators when it comes to long-term, chronic child abuse. No credibility there.

    And just who in the hell “owns” the kids? I vote for the parents. You want kibbutzes, move to Israel. Or vote for Hillary Clinton. If parents aren’t up to the job, hammer ’em. Otherwise, butt out.

  37. Ok Jeff,

    Tell use all about your vast experience in the field which lends credibility to your opinions…

  38. jeff wright says:

    Well, Bill, how about educated, alert, aware, concerned and stable member of the community? Also, experienced parent. If that’s not enough, try taxpayer.

    Finally, and ultimately, citizen.

  39. “School nurses were cut years ago.” Really? How did I miss that. Anyone happen to know how many states have also made this cut?

Trackbacks

  1. http://aschoolyardblog.typepad.com/asyb/2004/01/i_am_concerned_.html

    I am concerned about the voucher, charter, home school movement. Not the idea, but what I see as a subtle, divisive and quietly mounting attack on the idea. First, this is where I stand on alternatives to public schools. I