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March 14, 2009

Judge Orders Mother to Cease Home Schooling

am still trying to decide what I think about this situation:

A judge in Wake County said three Raleigh children need to switch from home school to public school. Judge Ned Mangum is presiding over divorce proceeding of the children's parents, Thomas and Venessa Mills.

Venessa Mills was in the fourth year of home schooling her children who are 10, 11 and 12 years old. They have tested two years above their grade levels, she said.

"We have math, reading; we have grammar, science, music," Venessa Mills said.

Her lessons also have a religious slant, which the judge said was the root of the problem.

"My teaching is strictly out of the Bible, and it's very clear. It is very evident so I just choose to follow the Bible," Venessa Mills said.

In an affidavit filed Friday in the divorce case, Thomas Mills stated that he "objected to the children being removed from public school." He said Venessa Mills decided to home school after getting involved with Sound Doctrine church "where all children are home schooled."

Thomas Mills also said he was "concerned about the children's religious-based science curriculum" and that he wants "the children to be exposed to mainstream science, even if they eventually choose to believe creationism over evolution."

In an oral ruling, Mangum said the children should go to public school.

"He was upfront and said that, 'It's not about religion.' But yet when it came down to his ruling and reasons why, 'He said this would be a good opportunity for the children to be tested in the beliefs that I have taught them,'" Venessa Mills said.

All sides agree the children have thrived with home school, and Vanessa Mills thinks that should be reason enough to continue teaching at home.

This is one of those odd situations where I can see both sides of the argument.

It is hardly unreasonable for a father to want some influence over his children's upbringing. A child's school curriculum and religious training play an enormous role in his intellectual and moral development.

The article didn't state how much child support this gentleman is paying, nor does it spell out the custody arrangements. But presumably since neither parental rights nor parental obligations terminate upon divorce, he is paying child support. And it would be next to impossible for the mother to home school 3 children who are constantly shuttling back and forth between two households. So it seems reasonable to conclude the mother has full custody and the father, visitation rights.

I'm leery of the notion that paying child support "buys" the right to participate in the upbringing of your own children. Children are not commodities. On the other hand, a parental interest in child rearing doesn't magically go away simply because two adults choose to walk away from their marriage vows.

But even though I can understand the father's concerns, the judge's rationale strikes me as almost spectacularly dishonest. In family courts the controlling issue is supposed to be the best interest of the child. This is so because children don't choose to have their families broken into pieces: this unpleasant turn of events was foisted on them by their parents.

I see little rational justification for concluding the only way to provide exposure to evolution based science texts is to remove three children from a challenging curriculum which provides lots of individual attention and place them in a less challenging one where they will receive very little. It also makes little sense to uproot these kids from the secure and familiar social environment they've enjoyed for years (they attend a church where most families home school) and force them, in addition to dealing with the pain and loss of divorce, to adjust to yet another upheaval simply because one class the father wants them to have is missing from the curriculum.

Could the father's concerns not be addressed by adding a evolution-based science text to their studies? If science is such a priority to the father, can he not take his children to museums? Or buy them books and videos which expose them to these concepts?

Full disclosure: I home schooled my sons for a year. The curriculum I used, though I'm an Episcopalian, was a fundamentalist Christian one. We dealt with the disparity between our beliefs and my sons' curriculum by talking to our children about values. You know: that whole parenting/teachable moment thing?

After one year in this curriculum both my children's test scores shot through the roof even though they'd previously attended the best private school in the area. The science and math texts in particular, though they did include some fundamentalist sermonizing, were far more rigorous and thorough than anything they experienced before or subsequently - either in public or private school. I looked at the situation a net plus: an opportunity to discuss what we believe - and why - with our children.

It's not hard to turn this scenario on its face and imagine the judge's ruling if the children had been in public school, the mother was not religious, and it was instead the father who objected to the evolution-based science text used in the school. Let's assume the mother still has full custody and the father visitation rights.

Does anyone seriously believe that judge would have ordered the mother to remove the children from public school and change to an entirely faith-based curriculum simply to ensure their exposure to creationist science texts?

If you do, there's a very large bridge I'd like to sell you. Something tells me the policy preferences of the father and judge played a far larger role in the disposition of this case than the best interest of the children.

What say you?

Posted by Cassandra at March 14, 2009 07:29 AM

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I'm not a constitutional expert. But, I wonder if the judges ruling might violate the free exercise clause of the first amendment.

I'm not religous. But believe people should be free to practice their beliefs unless they are causing harm to someone else.

Posted by: Schnauzer at March 14, 2009 08:44 AM

Something tells me the policy preferences of the father and judge played a far larger role in the disposition of this case than the best interest of the children.

Huh? A judge letting his personal bias influence his ruling?

Quelle surprise...non.

Posted by: BillT at March 14, 2009 09:04 AM

I am most bothered by the disregard of the best interests of the child priniciple for deciding the issue. If the children were testing behind grade level, if they were having behavior problems, if there was some evidence for abuse or neglect, it might make more sense.

The judge seems to be saying that not teaching children about evolution is educational neglect. If that is the case, have they actually tested the children to see if they are knowledgable regarding the theory of evolution. Many times, evolutionists stereotype creationists as knowing nothing about evolutionary theory and they are surprised to discover it is often untrue. How can you truly hold a belief if you haven't investigated and examined the other options?

Posted by: baberuth at March 14, 2009 10:17 AM

To sum up: The judge is wrong, the father is being manipulative (typical in divorce cases where the children are pawns) and the mother is trying her best.

I use a Mennonite grammar curriculum. So far, no problems. I also use Christian Liberty Press's Streams of Civilization for World History, as well as Skousen's 5,000 Year Leap, in addition to Holy Writ.

I balance that with writings on Western Civ, teaching mythology and evolution as fun, but necessary things to learn simply because to NOT expose them to other beliefs is to assume that they will always believe the way I do. They have to be challenged, and their beliefs will be tested. The premise of any education, regardless of humanist or religious basis, is to teach one to think, reason and study it out for themselves.

Of course, a faith-based education also includes prayer and a belief in a Supreme Being or Beings.
It does not stifle the natural curiosity to learn about other religions. This coming Tuesday, our Scout troop (I deliberately chose a non-LDS troop PRECISELY for that reason..exposure to other faiths) is going to the local mosque in Fayetteville to have a meeting with their BSA troop.

Shoot me.

Posted by: Cricket at March 14, 2009 10:33 AM

The argument of 'what is best for the children' is definitely a can of worms, because it lets the nose of the state into the tent. The mother has done a stellar job in terms of the children's academic progress. I fail to see how putting them in school would serve their interests; unless they have AP classes to put them in. Otherwise, they will be bored and just might not have reason to be interested in school, socialization and 'exposure' notwithstanding, especially if they have to repeat work, or worse yet, act dumb in order to avoid getting beat up.

One of the arguments I heard was about their social skills...my children would lack 'proper' socialization. Funny that they weren't worried about academics.

I shall leave you with a Thought:
This ruling begs the philosophical question of whose children they are; the state's or the parents'? Especially since the mother has custody and the father is asking the state to intervene.

Posted by: Cricket at March 14, 2009 10:43 AM

Okay, this is an interesting issue for me.

I have an 8 year old boy with my ex-wife. She has full custody. I have (theoretically) visitation rights for one weekend a month, but since she moved him 3 states away (with no notice, in violation of the court order) I have effectively no rights whatsoever, regardless of what child support I pay. (And no, I can't get a court to care about her moving away.)

Anyway. The point of it is, this guy was lucky. He got a court to actually pay attention to what he wanted, and consider that he actually had some rights. Maybe paying support does buy you some rights in some states (just not mine).

I had tapes of my ex talking about screwing her friends' husbands while I was out at sea, doing drugs with her (then 15-year-old sister) WHILE BREASTFEEDING. I had my own apartment and a job, she was unemployed and wanted to live in one room / one bed in her dad's house. There was no history of violence / abuse / drugs on my part, and she even admitted that to the judge.

And yet I still couldn't even buy any fucking rights whatsoever.

I say, good for this guy. He fought, he ... well, he didn't -totally- win, but he got SOMETHING. More than I came away with. Good for him.

Posted by: LT Rusty, USNR at March 14, 2009 12:01 PM

Lt. Rusty,

I'm very sorry about your situation. I hope something changes for you. If your ex finds a boyfriend who doesn't like hanging with an 8-year-old, you may find him back on your doorstep, probably to the good of all involved.

Posted by: MathMom at March 14, 2009 12:19 PM

In what way is this mother's choice of curriculum and social mentoring of her children different than the Amish? They certainly don't fit in to American society, what with the uniform for men and women and the lack of electricity. But this judge would not get any traction telling them to put their kids in public school.

If her children are testing above grade level, the judge should butt out.

Posted by: MathMom at March 14, 2009 12:25 PM

LT. Rusty, I too, am sorry about your situation.
I hope you regain custody of him soon and that he is safe and sound. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know that those of us who are married to members of the military have deplored that kind of behavior.

What we are talking about though, is not the neglect on the part of the mother, but a judge's personal bias, despite the evidence to the contrary that the children are neglected by being homeschooled.

This man may have gotten a judge to listen to him, but for what reasons? What negligence was there other than supposedly not teaching evolution? That is hardly a crime.

Posted by: Cricket at March 14, 2009 01:31 PM

Hmm. As Cassandra says, there are other ways for the father to make sure his kids get what he thinks they need on top of mom's home schooling rather than instead of it. If his concern is with their religious training, Dad can certainly arrange for the kids go to his church as well as mom's and/or receive training in his religion. If he doesn't have a religion then he can just talk to his kids about why he believes (or doesn't believe) the way he does.

As for more mainstream science stuff, if Dad doesn't have time or doesn't think he can do a good job of explaining this stuff, how about a summer program or summer science camp? Or hiring a financially desperate college kid to tutor the kids in science? Or maybe the kids could even attend one of those public school summer courses for kids who are in danger of being "held back". (Assuming they still have those.) Or just ask the public schools what books they use to teach science and make sure the kids get those, then talk to the kids about them when they visit.

In fact, all of this is so obvious that I figure either Dad was trying to be difficult or Mom was refusing to let Dad do any of this or both. (If this is an example of how these parents try to accommodate each others beliefs while making sure they do the best for their kids, I'm not surprised they're divorced.)

The real problem here is the judge. Even if Dad was being difficult and Mom was being stubborn, he should have been smart enough - and impartial enough - to order them to sit down and pick one of the options that allowed Dad some influence while keeping the kids in an environment that's wildly successful academically.

Posted by: Elise at March 14, 2009 01:47 PM

A parent's primary responsibility is to do what is in the best interest of their children. The father has failed in this instance.

The court's primary responsibility is to make sure that the best interests of the children are being upheld in accordance of the law. The judge has failed in this instance.

My hope is that this woman has been in contact with Home Schooling Legal Defense Association.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at March 14, 2009 04:43 PM

There are not enough details to this story to conclude anything but that the judge is overreaching his authority. He is clearly not acting in the best interests of the children.

I see no evidence supporting one parent or the other in the story, but I do see conclusions being reached due to personal circumstances in this thread.

Posted by: Chris at March 14, 2009 07:07 PM

... all of this is so obvious that I figure either Dad was trying to be difficult or Mom was refusing to let Dad do any of this or both. (If this is an example of how these parents try to accommodate each others beliefs while making sure they do the best for their kids, I'm not surprised they're divorced.)


And the judge's response was to try to slay a gnat with a sledgehammer.

To Chris, I think there are two pieces of evidence in this story that support the mother's view:

1. The kids are testing several years above their grade level.

It's hard to argue, given these results, that the children are being harmed academically by the home school curriculum. I would think that any substitution of governmental authority for parental authority should proceed only upon a compelling demonstration of harm.

2. All parties to this suit agree that the children are thriving academically.

From the facts present, the father isn't arguing that public school will improve their overall educational outcome -- only that he wants them exposed to evolution-based scientific theory.

The way I see it, the weight of evidence heavily favors the status quo.

Posted by: Cass at March 15, 2009 09:59 AM

I say, good for this guy. He fought, he ... well, he didn't -totally- win, but he got SOMETHING. More than I came away with. Good for him.

Lt. Rusty:

Two thoughts:

1. Is this about Mom's rights vs. Dad's rights, or about what is best for your son? Speaking as a mother who deferred college and a career for literally decades (both things I very much wanted) in order to provide the best possible environment for my two boys, I can testify that women have to make choices like this all the time.

From what you describe, the family court failed to adequately balance the rights of your son and your rights as a father with those of your wife. But I think I can see what the court was thinking, too.

I am pretty certain she got custody b/c you're in the military. The court probably examined the "stability" aspect of your son's welfare and concluded that the possibility of deployment was a powerful argument against awarding you custody.

The bottom line here is that unless you can demonstrate that you can provide security and stability for your son, no court is going to give you custody, especially during wartime.

If you are serious about this, you might try going back to the Court and saying, "My son's welfare is so important to me that I've made arrangements to provide stability and security". And that would have to be followed by you, perhaps, finding an occupation that doesn't involve protracted absences, or having your Mom move in with you to provide continuity in the event of a deployment if you stayed in. Perhaps not palatable to you, but then we're talking about what is best for your son in the wake of a divorce.

The court, fairly or unfairly, most likely concluded that even an imperfect mother all the time was better than a father who couldn't promise to be there.

I'm not an attorney but I used to be a paralegal and I worked in a family law practice as well as working with the military on guardianship and adoption matters.

If you're seriously concerned about your son, think about talking to a family law attorney. If you really think your ex-wife is not a responsible guardian, you owe it to your son to challenge the custody award. But absent evidence that your son's welfare comes first in your life, few judges will take such a petition seriously, much less overturn an existing custody arrangement.

Just my two cents, and good luck to you :)

Posted by: Cass at March 15, 2009 10:14 AM

Yes...there is that Family Plan that has to be in place. Ask JAG what the details are and see if you are able to take advantage of it.

One of the reasons the Engineer retired early was due to my injuries and our family situation. He had enough time in. Had we not had that happen, he would have been back for another year. No big deal, as we were having a blast while he was gone and gazing into the Dell Palantir to keep tabs on him when he scheduled a chat from Mordor.

Posted by: Cricket at March 15, 2009 10:46 AM

Cass -
I got out of the Navy 6 months before filing for divorce, specifically so that my active duty wouldn't be a problem in a custody fight.

Posted by: LT Rusty at March 15, 2009 01:10 PM

Well, that changes the assessment. What state did you live in when the award was rendered?

I've written before about how difficult it is to overcome the presumption that the mother is a better parent. If your deployment wasn't a factor, that changes the entire calculation.

Trust me, I wasn't saying the fact that you're male didn't play into the decision. Just that (since your moniker made me think you were still on active duty) that the court was not likely to award custody to a parent who was likely to deploy (especially if your wife had - supposedly - the support of her family).

I'm sure that you have been fighting this already, but did you/can you appeal the custody award? I still don't think, given your comments about the mother's behavior, the court made the right decision. But I've seen enough custody battles to know most courts assume the mother is the better parent. Obviously, that's not always the case.

Posted by: Cass at March 15, 2009 01:24 PM

Welcome to an areas where tons of northern Libs are moving. Education in NC is continuing to decline, no matter how much money is pumped in to the system. Here in Wake County, every few years the school system hoses the lives of kids and parents through forcing the kids to change to a different school in the name of diversity, often sending kids in the same family to schools on different sides of the county. Kids have to get up earlier, etc and so on. Some kids are put in year round schools, while siblings may be in standard. This often happens on a judges order, not just the arbitrary rulings of the school board, which is completely unresponsive and virtually uncaring about kids, parents, and families.

And now we have this. Disgusting and embarrassing. But, normal behavior for liberals. I wonder when the NC ACLU will get involved to protect this woman and her kids' freedom of religion? Not holding my breath.

Posted by: William Teach at March 15, 2009 01:35 PM

I wonder when the NC ACLU will get involved to protect this woman and her kids' freedom of religion? Not holding my breath.

Some Constitutional rights are more equal than others :p

Posted by: George Orwell at March 15, 2009 01:37 PM

If the kids are testing above grade level and staying out of trouble, I don't see any basis for criticizing the mother's choice of education for them. As long as she has custody, she should call the shots on education. If the dad wanted to call those shots, he should have stayed married or gotten custody for himself. The judge was WAY out of line.

Personally, I believe in evolution, but I'd never try to overrule a parent's choice of how to educate his own kids just because I disagreed with him on evolution. The kids are testing well in science, so they're obviously developing critical skills in that area. They can sort through the controversy themselves by the time they come of age.

Posted by: Texan99 at March 15, 2009 03:37 PM

I don't see any basis for criticizing the mother's choice of education for them

The mother is offending liberal sensibilities, so, she must pay.

I believe in a combo between evolution and Intelligent Design, not a believer in Creationism, but, who am I to tell someone who does believe that they cannot teach it to their children. Well, I'm not a Wake County judge, I know that.

Posted by: William Teach at March 15, 2009 03:49 PM

That is ironic. One of the biggest arguments for homeschooling is consistency of curriculum and teachers, because with the expectations don't change and the child is challenged.

Political considerations aside, the one thing that most school districts have not adopted is a national curriculum. That would almost be tantamount to the accusation of brainwashing, and in that particular instance, it would stick.

I had to teach creationism, not because the states forced it on me, but because sooner or later they were going to have to deal with it.

Just like 'health and guidance' (the junior high euphemism for sex education), I didn't want my children finding out about evolution on the street. :)

We do have Darwin's Origin of the Species, and some other books that discuss and delve into the subject as a stand-alone deal, not to mention many National Geographics that also touch on the subject in numerous articles as either a preface to the history of whatever tribe or country being considered, or as an aspect of history in its own right.

While I am a Creationist/Intelligent Design believer, I want my children to believe in not just from a faith or spirit standpoint, but also from a Reason perspective.

We have a few copies of the Humanist magazine lying around, as well as a couple of copies of the Humanist Manifestos I & II and the Communist Manifesto.

You may now pass out.

Posted by: Cricket at March 15, 2009 07:03 PM

Cass -

Mesa, AZ. Mormon capital of ... well, the world outside Utah, where my ex-wife was from, and has moved back to. Even though she was (quite obviously) a -very- lapsed Mormon.

Posted by: LT Rusty, USNR at March 15, 2009 07:32 PM

To be honest, I'm not clear on the "other side" that Cass is seeing. While I think the mother is a dufus for rejecting evolution (see next missive), that's between her and her kids and the science testing regimen that presumably meets standards. If they are aware of evolution enough to pass tests about it, I don't see a problem. They'll get a chance to treat it seriously before long -- they aren't at the rebellious years quite yet.

> only that he wants them exposed to evolution-based scientific theory.

An idea I support wholeheartedly, but this hardly requires inflicting the Horrors of Public Schools on them.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at March 16, 2009 06:56 AM

The biggest problem I have with Creationism (Creative Design, Intelligent Design, Flying Sphagetti Monster Origination Theory, whatever) is that it basically requires a defective faith in God in the first place.

To wit:

1) God wants you to believe in Him based solely on Faith, not on Causation.

It seems incredibly obvious that, if God wanted to be Proven, He'd open up the Heavens, Send down a Real Bright Light, and say, in a quite unavoidably Godlike voice, "I'm HERE you IDIOTS.", or something to that effect.

In short, there would be no question, no doubt, no need for Faith at all.

He does not do so, hence, for whatever reasons He may have, He wants us to have Faith, not Proof.

2) The chief arguments for ID, etc., are basically in direct contravention to that principle in #1 -- They suggest that God isn't smart enough to have created a place which reason, evidence and experience cannot explain WITHOUT resort to Him.

In other words, ID says He could not have created a place which does not clearly require His existence to make it.

In actual fact, true Faith says that He is, at best, an alternative explanation, that He either used the processes of evolution to make life, or He planted the evidence for evolution when He waved his hand and made the place instantly from nothing. Either of which are completely indistinguishable, as I'm sure He did a perfect job if it was The Latter.

3) Science isn't about Faith, it's about Truth, and Reasoning about Truth. It's not our technologies, or our ideas. It's simply a method for deriving reliable distinctions between what We Know and what We Don't Know. It has nothing whatsoever to say about anything which is Faith. Faith exists to deal with a wholly different problem set from what Science deals with. Evolution is Science. The information derived thereby is passed through an extensive collection of tests and checks and, so far, has passed them better than any alternative idea. If, at some point, a major rejection point is encountered, it will be discarded, and quickly. This has already happened at least twice in Science -- Look up Phlogiston Chemistry and Ether Physics. Both were centuries-long established theories for how physical processes worked -- and the latter concept -- Ether -- was dethroned and tossed out as a result of a single scientific experiment which failed to replicate essential expectations from the theory.

Science WORKS. The planes fly, the TVs televise the GPS tracks. And it's all inter-related. You can't toss out one concept arbitrarily without ripple effects all through the system. If paleontology is radically wrong, it means that forensics is radically wrong, too. It means that Petrogeology is radically wrong, as well. And those problems would be showing up all the time when we attempt to act on those day-to-day sciences, which, "unlike evolution" ARE constantly tested by real-world events.

4) The biggest problem with most adherents to ID is that not only are they claiming that God ain't that Godlike, but they also fail to grasp that evolution -- Science -- is NOT at odds with Faith. As I said, Science only says things about verifiable, objective information.

God, as a deity-defined matter of Faith, is NOT a verifiable, objective subject. Science and Faith are not at odds with one another, they are complimentary. Sometimes things move from one realm to the other, but this is just a fact of our understanding, and not a challenge, question, or doubt about either one or its place in the human spirit.

In short, ID is just flat-out wrongheaded.

It's an attempt to dress up a Faith based concept in Pseudo-Scientific trappings.

That's putting lipstick on a pig and calling it Senator Teddy Kennedy. Granted, the pig has more morals, but they ain't the same thing, not by a long shot. At the very least, frying up the pig and eating it ain't against Nature, to say nothing of a lot more healthy.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at March 16, 2009 07:25 AM

To be honest, I'm not clear on the "other side" that Cass is seeing.

The other side I'm seeing is the father's desire to have a say in the upbringing of his own children.

I think it's not necessarily unreasonable for a father who (for instance) didn't believe in God to object to his children being immersed in not just a religious curriculum, but one that arguably runs completely counter to the values he holds.

I could also understand a father who DID believe in God objecting to the mother's raising children in a faith that requires its adherents to submit to temporal human (aka, Church) authority. I happen to believe in more of a 'thinking Christian' tradition in which hopefully intelligent people attempt to learn God's will by study and rational inquiry rather than by being told what God really meant.

Does that mean we can't seek help in interpreting Scripture? No. Does that mean Scripture always says whatever the heck we want it to?

No. I think we have to be reasonable in our interpretation and study in good faith. But I don't personally believe I will go to Hell if I interpret it differently than another human being and I would very likely object to my children being raised in such a tradition.

Posted by: Cass at March 16, 2009 08:02 AM

The problem is that your view of ID is that it's Creationism with "New and Improved" technobabble.

You are right that ID is contradictory to faith (which is why Creationists don't like it). But ID never posits a creator that is deified. In fact, it doesn't posit anything on the nature of a creator. It could be a deity, it could be an entity existing in several of the other 11 dimensions (it's 11 dimensions for string theory or M Theory or whatever they're calling it these days, right?), it could be Extra-Terrestrial life. ID doesn't know, nor does it really care.

For example, let's say that scientists one day were to be able to create artficial life. They specifically design it to survive in conditions similar to Mars and then plopped it there.

Wouldn't this life be "Intelligently Designed". After all, a Diety didn't create it and neither did evolution. At least at first.

Furthermore, let's say that millions of years later, intellegent life evolved from what we "planted". Are the only legitimate answers to "What created us?" a Diety or evolution? Would searching out for their human creators be wrong-headed?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 16, 2009 10:45 AM

As a homeschooling mom, I can say this decision did not surprise me. Bugged me, yes. But did not surprise me. We've been investigated ourselves because our decision to homeschool was not popular.

When my eldest daughter went back into public schools in high school, despite the fact that she had passed (at age 13 no less) two AP exams with 4s and one with a 3, we offered an educational portfolio and we also offered to have her tested in each subject by one of the professional tutoring companies to prove her competency, the school refused to consider giving credits for work completed during homeschool. Apparently AP exams are good enough for colleges to accept, but not a high school in a po-dunk town with a liberal entrenched teaching faculty that takes mortal umbrage when someone does their job more successfully than they manage to.

This is a serious problem for military families, since homeschooling is the only real option at some assignments (like, for instance, Guam) where the schools are academically less than decent. The real problem with all this is not socialization or academic progress (especially since academic progress is so easily checked through testing or independent evaluation), it is that yet another group of liberally education professionals can't handle the fact that their indoctrination may not be the best way to teach every child.

HF6 was 100% right - HSLDA is the only way to go for such families. The organization is incredible.

I'd like anyone who has met my kids to honestly assess that they have issues with socialization! For goodness sake - at some point the ridiculousness becomes a caricature.

Posted by: airforcewife at March 16, 2009 12:04 PM

I say it was an opportunity to stick a finger in his ex-wife's eye without any personal involvement on his part.

You said it yourself. He could home school them himself when they were in his custody. But that would take time and effort and isn't really a lot of fun.

This is much easier. And he also would not be on the hook for his share of obligatory home school materials (public school is paid for by taxes he already pays so is effectively "free" for him).

Posted by: Tony at March 16, 2009 12:26 PM

The issue is not the religious overtones. The issue is that the judge interfered with something that he should not have. The education choices of the mother were clearly working.

I, for one, have no problem with evolution vs. creationism. I am a Christian but see that, (as Thomas Aquinas said,) faith and reason walk together. The attempts by athiests to use evolution to deny the possiblity of God will seriously backfire over the long term, but is creating a lot of unnecessary discord in the meantime.

But the issue is: Who has responsibility for educating the children? Parents? Local school boards? States? Federal government? Judges? I am in favor of keeping that responsibility as close to the parents and local school boards as possible.

Home schools are proving to be much better than public and many private schools. Kids grow up and will eventually decide many things for themselves. Whose values should they be taught in the meantime? I vote for the parents!

That these two parents are unable to agree to those values is clear. Sorry, but since the side-by-side value of educational excellence is clearly being met in a spectacular way, the court should back off! Dad needs to get a grip and stop using this as a way to prove he can get control. Both parents lose since it is now the judge with control of how the kids are raised.

Some of the parents in my extended family were able to keep a parent home and homeschooled. All their children went to fine universities and are contributing members of society.

My daughter went to a small Christian school for her first 6 years. (Yes, their science classes taught evolution!) While the sponsoring church taught some doctrines I strongly disagreed with, my daughter seems to have had no lasting harm.

She went public in jr. high and in spite of taking the advanced classes I don't see her as strong in her academics now that she is a jr. in high school. Her personal beliefs are slightly different than mine, and that is ok. I also figure she will be refining her beliefs over the next 20 years and I hope to hear less parroting of the stuff she hears in school. Her Christian school did not encourage such "parroting" but encouraged more weighing of different theories and beliefs. I will trust that the early training will prevail.

But the overriding point is that the judge shold not be the main factor in deciding how the kids are educated and what they should believe.

Posted by: chularose at March 16, 2009 05:14 PM


Posted by: Cricket at March 16, 2009 08:18 PM