P R E S I D E N T S P A G E
Responsibility, Reputation, & Freedom
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has removed yet another weapon from the arsenal of the enemies of home schooling, declaring that home visits are not essential to insuring that children learn, and thus such visits violate the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children.
I believe that it is fair to predict that this decision will lay the issue of home visits to rest across the whole nation for the foreseeable future. Even though it is a decision of only one states highest court, and not binding anywhere outside Massachusetts, the force of the courts reasoning is likely to cause other states and school districts to shy away from trying to re-institute this discredited form of regulation.
Long-time members of HSLDA will recall a similar triumph in the Supreme Court of South Carolina in 1991. That states legislature imposed a test on all parents in that state who did not possess a bachelors degree. At the time, the notion of imposing a teacher test on home schooling parents was in ascendancy. But with the decision of only one state supreme courtwhich held that such tests failed the professional standards for test validityteacher testing of home schooling parents faded into oblivion.
Several common threads run through both decisions. Yes, HSLDA argued the cases, and we even used the same expert witnessesDr. Brian Ray (an expert on home schooling) and Dr. Larry Rudner (an expert on testing). But the most important similarity runs much deeper.
In my judgment, the crucial point in the reasoning of both courts was the same. We were able to convince the courts that home schooling was academically successful and that these toolsteacher testing, home visitswere unnecessary for a quality education.
That means that every home schooling family in America takes part of the credit for these victoriesand shares responsibility for the future. We cannot win landmark decisions without a good reputation being attached to home schooling. Our children have done well academically, socially, and morally, and the world is seeing our success. (And that is one reason we have operated the National Center for Home Education since 1990, to make sure that the rest of the world hears those success stories.) So long as home schoolers reputation for success continues, we can expect further victories. If our reputation diminishes, we can expect a quick reversal of our freedom and fast reaction from public school regulators.
Every home schooling family needs to strive toward excellence. We can be diverse in our teaching methodstailoring our teaching methods to meet each childs learning style, but never losing sight of the goal of excellence. We also need to be careful that those beginning home schooling get the advice and help they need to be successful. Ultimately, if a family is not willing to work hard, the best advice we can give them, for themselves and for all the rest of us, is this: You should find a different method for your children since you are not able to take the time to be successful in home education.
Frankly, we never have to worry about our future freedom or government regulators so long as we strive to please God. He holds us to the highest standards for doing right with our children. When we please God, He grants us favor with all menincluding judges and legislators.
As an attorney, I am thrilled to get a phone call that says, You won a case! As a Christian and, therefore, a realist, I know that the real victory comes through the efforts of dedicated parents to responsibly teach their children and the blessings of a mighty God.