By J. Michael Smith
The Morris family of Troy was contacted by the superintendent at the beginning of the school year and after being advised by HSLDA attorney Michael Smith, the family provided information sufficient to satisfy the statutory requirement of “comparable instruction.” However, the school board requested a meeting with the parents, where the board voted unanimously to deny the parents’ right to homeschool. The reason given for the denial was a lack of information.
The superintendent then reported the children to the prosecutor, who apparently referred the matter to a social worker. Subsequently, the social worker attempted to interview the family but was challenged by Dean Wullenwaber from Lewiston, who was hired by HSLDA to represent the family. Dean is an ex-public defender with much criminal law experience. Since a letter was sent by him to the prosecutor and the superintendent in early November, there has been no further correspondence. This matter may be resolved outside of court. If it cannot, however, HSLDA will argue that the family has an opportunity to receive a fair hearing. HSLDA will also try to invalidate the statute on vagueness grounds because of the lack of definition of the term comparable.
One interesting sidelight, during discussions with the superintendent, is that he raised some concerns about whether the children were being properly socialized. This, of course, is often raised by public school officials, because they know that they cannot compete academically with a tutorial program administered by conscientious parents. It is necessary to set the record straight on this issue: the state does not have a legitimate interest in the socialization of children. Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), is the leading case on this issue and the Supreme Court identified the only interest of the state in the education of children as being sufficiently literate to participate in a democracy, and to be self-sufficient. In other words, sufficiently educated to be a productive citizen. The fact is that the kind of socialization the public schools are attempting to sell is primarily negative. Positive socialization comes from the parents and the security of love in the home. Good socialization skills come from a positive self-image, which derives form being secure, and children instructed in a loving home will have greater security than those instructed in a large classroom setting.