The reason I was reading about homeschooling is an article by the Telegraph's Education Editor, Graeme Paton, reporting remarks by the Children's Minister, Baroness Morgan, that "home teaching could be a 'cover for abuse' in extreme cases". The department for children, schools and families elucidates, stating that an Elective Home Education Review will investigate
Whether local authorities and other public agencies are able to effectively discharge their duties and responsibilities for safeguarding and ensuring a suitable education for all children [and] consider what evidence there is to support claims that home education could be used as a 'cover' for child abuse such as neglect, forced marriage, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.Anne Taverner of the Government Policy Group of Education Otherwise (motto: school is not compulsory - education is) responded that "No other community would be expected to suffer the prejudice and discrimination which our community has to endure".
Homeschoolers in the US have been here before us. In 2003, according to the LifeWay site, CBS ran a story on homeschooling which was advertised thus on its site:
Home schooling is becoming an educational option for more and more families across the country, but is it also keeping abused and neglected children away from the eyes of authorities? Our Vince Gonzales will take a look in tonight's Eye on America, and he'll bring us the story of a household in North Carolina where kids hidden from public sight met a tragic end.In the same year, back over here, home educator Julius Bloomfeld predicted that the phenomenon would be put under the microscope in ten years, because it impacted upon too many vested interests:
The pressure will come from the teaching unions (whose monopoly it threatens). It will come from the Department of Education (always on the lookout for a new "initiative"). It will come from the Press (all it will take is one scare story about a home educated ten year old who hasn't yet learned to read). And it will come from Brussels (home education is illegal in many European countries so why should it be legal here?).Blumfeld was right, if overoptimistic to the tune of two years. But it's significant that he refers to the illegality of home education in some European countries - for example, Germany, the Netherlands and Cyprus.
Left-wing governments are notorious for wanting to nationalise great swathes of the business landscape, and to plan much of the lives of their countries' inhabitants. One of the most pathologically left-wing of governments in living memory was that of Germany from 1933-1945. Adolf Hitler's Nazi party - a crypto-Marxist outfit hiding behind a veneer of nationalism - banned homeschooling because it wanted, indeed needed, to control the contents of its citizens' heads from the start. The ban still stands - in 2007, when it came to Bavarian authorities' attention that Melissa Busekros, then 15, was being homeschooled, she was forcibly removed from her family by police and sectioned (certified) in a psychiatric institution. She was later freed but not allowed to return home to Erlangen, but returned under her own steam.
Families who want to educate their own children are being squeezed worldwide, as governments remove freedoms from families even as they increase the priveleges the state enjoys. Homeschooling has been banned by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's Worker's Party in Brazil and is being eyed balefully by Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy's extreme-left ruling coalition in Belgium; although the French government was planning to ban it, but had to hold back after a massive domestic and international outcry, in Canada in 2006 it was labelled as a form of child abuse in a precursor to Lady Morgan's position.
In the US, homeschooling has been effectively banned in California, even though homeschooled Evan O' Dorney from San Francisco has won a National Spelling Bee (competition). During the 2008 presidential election, presenter Joy Behar exemplified a sinister predisposition on the part of the liberal-socialist axis to question the sanity of people with whom they disagree when she remarked that "A lot of them are demented when they're homeschooled", and the Lifesitenews site has pointed out that the Democratic Party, one of whose major funders is the national teachers' union, "has an official position of supporting public education [as opposed to homeschooling]".
Getting back on the boat to Blighty, I would agree with Julius Blumfeld's view, quoted above, that all the government will need to engineer a national outcry about home education will be a ten-year-old homeschooled child who can't write - even though four out of 10 children are virtually illiterate and innumerate when they leave primary school at the age of 11 - barely better than Morocco.
ButI believe the government, in their Elective Home Education Review, will be looking for much worse abuse than an illiterate ten-year-old kid and, unfortunately, they will find it, because of the prevalence of that evil phenomenon. But this will not negate the value of homeschooling for the vast majority of young people who are educated this way. But do the government have doubts about the education system as it exists in Britain under them arising from, for example, the following well-publicised three cases that happened under their watch?
- The "British Fritzl made his two daughters pregnant nineteen times, resulting in nine children, with five miscarriages and five abortions. Schools repeatedly missed chances to pick the abuse up.
- After complaints of physical abuse by 86 pupils at a special school resulting in 14 suspensions, conditions came to light after a child suffered a broken arm resulting from having been restrained by three members of staff.
- In Wales, there have been convictions among 92 staff referred to an independent watchdog on various charges, including "emotional, physical and sexual abuse".
I hope these are isolated cases. But I'm worried that if any form of abuse - and remember, Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum has said that "allowing" children to become obese is a form of abuse and that fat kids should be taken into care - will be presented as being standard in children who are homeschooled.
PS - did you spot the deliberate mistake? Don't worry if you didn't, because there isn't one. I link to the department for children, schools and families in the second paragraph - that's how they capitalize it (or fail to do so) on their website. I wouldn't be surprised if none of the people who chose the design for the logo were homeschooled - while parental involvement creates creative individuals who are unafraid to think freely (as in the involvement of homeschooling families in the March for Life in Washington, D.C.), it takes a socialist government a lot of hard work to create this level of ignorance.