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October 15, 2003
CBS News: The Dark Side

CBS has run a truly egregious hit piece on home schooling, which is also posted to their web site:

"I think there's so little supervision that they really are not protecting those kids," Marcia Herman-Giddens, of the North Carolina Child Advocacy Institute.

Herman-Giddens is on the state task force that reviewed the Warren case. The conclusion: home school laws "allow persons who maltreat children to maintain social isolation in order for the abuse and neglect to remain undetected."

Let's see ... because of the three or four cases of child abuse (including murder and suicide) of home-schooled kids they found, this is supposedly an evil trend, a conspiracy of child abusers to keep their victims from being noticed. Where is any mention of the hundreds of thousands of abuse cases that occur with children taught in public schools? Or, perhaps, a litany of children assaulted, molested, and murdered in public schools, sometimes by the teachers and administrators? Are there any statistical analyses comparing risks of both systems? I'd settle for risks associated with just the public schools, at least for context. The report estimates that 50,000 kids in North Carolina are home-schooled, and only mentions one case.

Unlike teachers, in 38 states and the District of Columbia, parents need virtually no qualifications to home school. Not one state requires criminal background checks to see if parents have abuse convictions.

No state requires parents to undergo criminal background checks because the children are already in their custody. Children don't start home schooling until they're close to public-school age, so there are four or five years where the child is out of the system regardless of whether they later become home-schooled or not. Didn't anyone at CBS think about that before writing this article? Or is CBS subtly suggesting that parents must be licensed to have children at all?

What stories like this are intended to do is to stir up enough righteous anger -- the children are in danger!! we must do something!! -- to enable legislators to pass new laws restricting the rights of parents to make decisions for their children. The entire tone of this two-part article is that children who are home-schooled are being kept from background-checked, government-certified experts who know more and care more about what's best for the child than the benighted, backwoods parents. It's all about extending the government-enforced union monopoly, with CBS scaring up bogeymen to keep the public frightened enough to knuckle under. Hell, they even threw Andrea Yates into the equation, even though only two of her children were school age, and her psychosis had nothing to do with home-schooling her children.

Outlawing home schooling will not eliminate child abuse, nor will forcing home-schooling parents to submit to background investigations. (After that, they'll require stay-at-home moms to register as day-care providers.) Based on the prevalence of abusive and dangerous environments in public schools, I'd wager that home-schooled children are actually far, far safer than their peers stuck in the education monopoly.

Thanks to Steve at Meaningful Media for his post on the subject, and if you're as irritated by this as I am, his post links to protest sites., such as ThinkPink, who posts her own letter to CBS.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 15, 2003 9:28 PM

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