Homeschoolers Vs. the State

Joanne Jacobs, Weblog, Mar 17, 2008
Commentary by Stephen Downes

An interesting debate has exploded into the mainstream as a California appellate ruling that bans homeschooling by uncredentialed parents. My own criticism of homeschooling has alwas been in line with the ruling by the court: it is a form of child abuse to subject children to an education at the hands of a person who is manifestly unable to provide it. But the debate also ties into questions about the aims and objectives of an education. Do we believe, with Justice Croskey, that "A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare?" We would be hard-pressed not to believe such a notion - but our sense of decency revolts at the idea of education as indoctrination. To be sure. But in response to the critics of the court's ruling, this: what is the education of a child by an unqualified or incompetent other than an indoctrination by a different name? I have in the past supported deschooling - but not the abandonment of a child's future to the whims of an uncertain learning.
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