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'No' to Homeschooling Persecution?

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One mom doesn't believe that homeschooling should be decided upon by one parent.

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Homeschool Mom: Recently, a New Hampshire court decided a 10-year-old girl should be enrolled in public school, per her father's request. She was being homeschooled by her mother, who is the primary custodial parent. The decision has inspired an organization called the Alliance Defense Fund to speak out on behalf of the mother. The ADF is dedicated to preserving religious liberty and maintaining the sanctity of marriage. They are trying to get the judge in the case to reconsider the decision. I say, however, that this organization is barking up the wrong tree. This is not a case about religious freedom. This is a case about parental rights.

Let's face it: no education is perfect. There are problems with public school education, private education, and homeschooling. I have been homeschooling for 5 years and, as great as I think it is for our family, I don't advocate it for everybody. In fact, this year we enrolled my son into public school for ninth grade. It was a joint decision made by both me and my husband. We had to agree, and it was not an easy decision. My husband thought it was time for my son to get some independence and learn to swim on his own, and hopefully not sink. I was more hesitant, because homeschooling was working and he seemed to be thriving. I probably would have continued with his homeschooling, but I had to consider my husband's wishes. Why? Because my husband is the boss and what he says, goes? Ah, not quite, but he does have some parental rights as well, and there was no way we, personally, could conveniently and effectively combine at-home learning and classes at the same time.

My husband wanted my son to have a wider diversity of input and a chance for independence. My son has been in school for two days and is reading a book I would never have chosen for him and possibly would have ripped out of his hands had he tried. Is it good for him? Probably, more than I like to believe, because it is up to him to use his own discernment as to whether this is a good piece of literature, and whether he agrees with the values it displays. In other words, my total control over what he is exposed to is over, and it is time for him to use his own skills to navigate through the world in which he is going to live. Would I have liked this to happen at ten years old? No. But sometimes life hands us situations and we are forced to deal with them the best we can.

I believe that a father has the right to have a say in his child's education. Just because the mom is the custodial parent in the New Hampshire case, she is not the supreme authority. She could not take her child out of the country without her ex-husband's consent; she could not move the child to another state without his consent. I don't know the full story about these people. Maybe the guy is a complete jerk and abandoned the mom, etc.... The information that we have is comprised of his statements through his lawyer, in which he objected to homeschooling because he felt it was too stifling, and he felt his daughter needed more social interaction. His objection is not completely without merit. Homeschooling means spending a lot of time at home. Without siblings, a kid would spend quite a bit of the time alone with the teacher.

I can understand having a deep faith and wanting to instill those ideas into your child's heart, and homeschooling enables you to do that. Unfortunately, if you have had a child with someone who does not share your faith and does not want that to be the nucleus of your child's education, I think it is too bad for you, and a compromise must be made. No one is telling the woman she cannot train her child in religion, but the court has determined that if the father questions the completeness of a homeschool experience, then a more conventional choice, like public school, is the best choice. That's how the chips fall.

Divorce is messy, and sacrifices and disappointments and difficulties are endured by all parties. I don't see the woman as being persecuted for her faith. I think she is being forced to compromise what her ideal education for her child would be, because she had a child with a man who does not share those ideals. My heart goes out to the mom and child as well as the dad: I imagine there will be more conflicts of this nature ahead.




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34 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen September 8, 2009, 12:01 PM

This article is leaving out one very KEY point. The mother was trying very hard to compromise with her ex-husband, she had put their daughter in 3 public school classes a week(some states do allow for this). It sounds to me like the dad really is just being a jerk. It says in the court records that academically the girl is THRIVING, why change what works? I think the mother has been trying to compromise.

Pamala September 8, 2009, 1:48 PM

I think the key point was that mom taught her daughter that “daddy didn’t love her because he didn’t believe as she did.” Frankly anyone who lets their kid believe that deserves to have the child go live with the other parent.

This mother wasn’t compromising she was trying her best to make this little girl be completely faithful to her.

Kristen September 8, 2009, 2:35 PM

Pamala, how on earth did you get that from this article? In the MANY articles I’ve read about this case the mother put the girl in 3 public school classes per week PLUS had her in gymnastics and other social activities BECAUSE the father was concerned. Also if the child is spending most of her time with her mom because the mom is the primary custodial parent than of course the child is going to believe what she is surrounded by, BUT the mom was trying to be considerate of the father’s wishes. Also as a little experiment why don’t you go ask any child you know who they would vote for for president and I would bet money that it’s going to be who there parents voted for…….thats what kids do, they take there parents side, ESPECIALLY when being questioned by outside authorities about there life. I think the dad is being a jerk.

Kristie September 8, 2009, 4:12 PM

I am a homeschool parent, and I believe it is the best option for my family.

But this is because both parents are on board. It is only one of many schooling options. I don’t believe that it is THE only choice.

In a perfect situation the mom would be fine to continue homeschooling her child, unfortunately she had that child with a man who doesn’t believe the same way she does, and he actually has a say in how the child is raised too.

Stephen Dawe September 8, 2009, 6:26 PM

As the custodial parent, the mother had the right to make this decision unless there was a “harm” for the child. The harm found was that the home situation was too “rigidly religious”.

The father did not have the rights you refer to simply because in the divorce proceedings the court already awarded custody to the mother. To get around that, the judge found that there was a harm in the religion.

That finding is at its basis a question of freedom of religion.

LeAnn September 8, 2009, 9:25 PM

My issue was this statement “The marital master hearing the case proposed the Christian girl be ordered into public school after considering “the impact of [her religious] beliefs on her interaction with others.”
They outright stated that the reason for sending her to public school is because she was TOO Christian.

Anonymous September 8, 2009, 10:32 PM

my sister messed her kids up by homeschooling them

K&C's mom September 8, 2009, 11:36 PM

We home school, I know it’s not for every family. We tried public school, it didn’t work for our daughter. They labeled her learning disabled and ADHD, we see none of this!!! She did better in the first few months of home school then she did in 2 years of public, they just couldn’t/wouldn’t teach her how she needed to be taught!!! We used to have to fight her to go to school, now when we try to take a break, she asks to home school, it’s amazing!!! She was behind her grade, now she is way ahead!!!! But my hubby and I are in agreement on this, and he does most of it, since I’m gone all day at work.

Betty September 11, 2009, 12:32 PM

People like Pamala, Anonymous, and the judge in this case have issues against homeschooling and/or religion which have no bearing on everyone else. IOW, it’s their big hangup.

Using that logic, Anonymous, I could say my sister messed up one of her kids by sending them to public school, and darn near messed up the other one by sending them to public school. Also, I wonder how many prisoners attended public school - that would be an interesting statistic to find out, wouldn’t it? Fortunately, I find your “logic” idiotic.

From what the article says, it’s clearly a religious discrimination issue. I didn’t see from the article, but IF the mother has sole custody (as opposed to joint custody) there must be a reason. How involved has the father been in the girl’s life up until now? Why specifically a public school as opposed to a private school?

As far as having a lot of teachers being beneficial…that’s just nonsense. Besides, this girl did have other teachers. How many teachers does the average student have during the school year? In grade school, usually one main teacher and maybe another teacher for art or PE. In high school, they usually have about six or so teachers all year long. There is no evidence that children with more teachers than others get a better education. That’s as ridiculous as the myth of socialization.

Anyway, at some point after a child can read for themselves, it seems to me that most true learning takes place when the student is alone with the text or their notes while doing homework, or maybe at the library…where you have to be quiet…with no socializing.

GB September 24, 2009, 8:20 AM

This article misses one crucial point - the guardian ad-litem and judge both were very specific, the ruling was based not on the right of the father, but on the strength girl’s religious beliefs.

It is this reasoning on the part of the court that makes this a matter of religious freedom. Had it truly been about parental rights, then the court would have cited the father’s right to have a say in the child’s education. The court, however, did not do so. Only the child’s religious beliefs were given as the reason for the decision.

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