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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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LTLMRS February 7, 2011, 1:08 PM

Great article Pam.

What others do not realize is that the courts are looking for the best interest of the child. Ultimately, the GAL felt that the child would benefit from the public school experience.

If there were not a split custody arrangement, would the courts have got involved? Probably not.

However, the non-custodial parent has the right to input on his child’s education, unless the Agreement states otherwise.

It typically takes two parents to consent to an alternate form of education, but only one to fight for the norm.


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