Dana, at Principled Discovery, broke the story.
Principled Discovery, 27 February 2007, New Jersey Superior Court shocked by New Jersey homeschooling laws
In an odd opinion delivered in response to a disagreement between divorced parents concerning the education of their seven children, the justices express a clear concern for the neglect of the state in the education of homeschooled children.
You can read the transcript of Hamilton v. Hamilton which was published at the New Jersey Trial Court Decisions page, which has the caution: “Please Note: Decisions are made available for six weeks from the date posted for the convenience of attorneys and litigants, have not been approved for publication by the Committee on Opinions, and thus may not be cited as legal precedent pursuant to R.1:36-3.” We can’t use the decision in a court of law, but I’m assuming we can read it, and refer to it.
In looking at the document, the purpose seems to be unfocused.
The focus of this court is on the mother’s ability to teach different grade levels and different subjects to her children, and whether the children are receiving “equivalent instruction” elsewhere than at school. See N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25.
The sole issue in this hearing is whether the mother provides all her children an instruction equivalent to that provided by the Ridgewood School District, where she presently resides with the children.
Judicial interpretation of the statute requires such steps to measure “equivalent instruction” when the alternative “elsewhere than at school” is chosen by parents.
So which one is the point of the decision? The mother’s ability, equivalent instruction, or judicial interpretation of the statute?
An additional insight into how the court views mothers?, women?, private individuals?, was provided by the following:
In questioning by this court, the mother made it clear that in the ten years she had been home schooling the children, no one from any Board of Education in Montclair (where they lived until October 2006) ever visited the home. Ms. Hamilton never went to any school or board office, no lesson plan was ever reviewed and no progress report or testing of the children was ever performed. This is shocking to the court. In this day and age where we seek to protect children from harm and sexual predators, so many children are left unsupervised. …
The children were with their mother. How is that not being supervised? Are mothers non-people? If they are, where does that leave the infants who are routinely sent home with them (a statement that reflects my cultural bias in considering hospital births the standard for births, speaking of viewpoints)?
In today’s threatening world, where we seek to protect children from abuse, not just physical, but also educational abuse, how can we not monitor the educational welfare of all our children?
The parents (because at the time there were two of them involved) were supervising their children’s education, how is that not monitoring? The parents were behaving as responsible people do: they accepted the job of raising their children and were carrying it out.
In the decision, the judges want the following:
1. A parent/guardian who seeks to home school his/her child(ren) must register the child(ren) in their home school district, so that no child slips through the cracks of our educational system.
2. A curriculum must be presented and filed with the local board of education and some “home school” training seminar required for the teaching parent (a four hour video would suffice).
3. Testing on the same standardized basis for all students shall be administered to all home schooled children on an annual basis to measure whether “equivalent instruction” is being received by a child “elsewhere than at school”.
In the absence of indications of neglect, why is it the general viewpoint that all children must be bureaucratically supervised at all times? Many homeschooling parents remove their children from schools exactly because they don’t want them to fall through the standardized cracks we see opening beneath their feet. We often continue because we find we enjoy our children more than we did before.
Has the corporate method for human interaction — layers of bureaucracy controlling all transactions, and standardized ‘outputs’ — become the modern model for all relationships — despite the repeated failures of that method?
- South Florida Sun Sentinel, 1 March 2007, Sex abuse trial begins for art teacher at New Renaissance Middle
- Baltimore Sun, 5 February 2007, Sex abuse charges for ex-Woodlawn High teacher
- Washington Post, 1 February 2007, 3 Women Charged With Sexually Abusing Teen
- Orlando Sentinel, 27 January 2007, Seminole ex-teacher gambles and loses
- Christian Science Monitor, 16 December 2005, ‘See Spot run’ befuddles fewer Americans
- New York Times, 1 December 2005, Literacy Falls for Graduates from College, Testing Finds
- The Detroit News, 24 April 2005, State fails to stop teacher sex abuse
- San Francisco Chronicle, 2 May 2004, Foster care is un-American
- Kansas State University, 2003, Out of Bounds: Sexual abuse by coaches violation of athletes, their trust
- Education World, 29 April 2003, Are We Still “A Nation at Risk?”
- abc7Chicago.com, 5 February 2003, DCFS: many teen runaways unaccounted for
- Literacyvolunteers.org, 2003, The Number of Functionally Illiterate Adults in U.S. Is Growing (see resources at end)
- Stateline.org (Pew Research Center), 1 November 2002, State Agencies Search for Foster Kids
- New York Times, 3 October 2002, Foster Children Unaccounted For
- Time, 5 May 2002, Florida’s Little Girl Lost
- Ronald B. Standler, attorney, 2000, Educational Malpractice in the U.S.A. (see court case references)
- Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 31 October 1999, Dirty Secrets: Why sexually abusive teachers aren’t stopped
- New York Times, 2 July 1992, Teacher Is Charged In Abuse of Student
- ERIC, 1982, Functional Illiteracy
- TCRecord, 1970, Minimizing the problems of functional illiteracy
Now tell me again how bureaucratic oversight is the failsafe position.
It is indeed documented that of the people who abuse children, parents comprise the largest category. But although parents are the largest group within the category of abusers, this doesn’t mean that ‘Parent’ is a red flag for abuse, which is how many people seem to be interpreting the statistic. ‘Parent’ does not equal ‘abuser.’
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 April 2004, HHS Releases 2002 National Statistics on Child Abuse and Neglect
The statistics indicate about 12.3 out of every 1,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect, a rate slightly below the previous year’s victimization rate of 12.4 out of 1,000 children.
An incident rate of 12.3 out of every 1,000 equals 1.23% of all children. According to statistics, parents commit 78% of those attacks, which translates to an attack rate of .96% on all children. That is less than 1%. That means 99.04% of parents are law-abiding concerning their children.
Real Life is not Olivia Benson being the only trustworthy person a child ever meets.
Each case of abuse is tragic, but the incident rate is not to the point that parenting should be considered only a breeding program that is overseen by a bureaucracy.
posted by Valerie