Homeschooling and the Pandemic
The whole nation, it seems, is homeschooling to one degree or another during the pandemic. Some commentators hope this will cause people to have a new appreciation for the virtues of educating their own children. But the Left, true to form, is still trying its best to torpedo homeschooling and corral every child in America into government indoctrination centers, AKA the public schools.
A conference scheduled for June at Harvard will discuss how best to regulate what organizers call the “controversial practice” of homeschooling. One of the organizers has called for a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling, while another claims there is no such thing as “parental rights”. Thus, the conference will feature the authoritarian Left in full cry.
As Tea Partiers know, the word ‘education’ does not appear in the U.S. Constitution. Supreme Court cases go part of the way towards establishing a fundamental right to homeschool under the Due Process clause, but the Supreme Court has never squarely ruled on the issue. Let’s leave aside the Amish case from 1972 [Wisconsin v. Yoder], upholding their right to homeschool based on First Amendment free exercise of religion. That was a unique set of circumstances, and later cases have denied free exercise claims by other religious groups.
Due Process analysis starts with a 1923 case [Meyer v. Nebraska] knocking down a state law prohibiting, for example, teaching children in German in a parochial school. The second case, in 1925, discussed a compulsory public school attendance law. [Pierce v. Society of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary]. The case is interesting because it contains some very strong language affirming parental rights: “The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” It’s great the Court said children are not state property, but the case, like the one before it, involved parochial schools, not homeschooling. Since then, many court rulings have supported the right of parents to provide home education.
But here’s the problem: homeschooling is theoretically only one Supreme Court Justice away from being abolished entirely. In the event of a 4-4 tie, a single swing Justice like an Anthony Kennedy could end homeschooling in this country forever. It would be a bad decision. It would fly in the face of the accumulated weight of judicial opinion in favor of homeschooling as a fundamental right, but we have seen the Supreme Court make bad decisions before. How about rounding up every American of Japanese descent during World War II and sticking them in camps without any real proof they threatened national security. Or how about the time we Tea Partiers were on the steps of the Supreme Court listening to Chief Justice John Roberts upholding Obamacare as a tax right after he had just finished saying it was not a tax. The Supreme Court can turn night into day with the stroke of a single Justice’s pen.
Obergefell, the same-sex marriage case, showed us, if we did not already know, that the Supreme Court sometimes responds to shifts in public opinion. It has no trouble engaging in social engineering and declaring what is good public policy for the little people, even if large swathes of the population are not on board. So what happens to homeschooling if five unelected Supreme Court Justices wake up one day and decide the country would be better off if every child were herded into government indoctrination centers and taught to become good little socialists?
Which brings me to the point: if you don’t want the Supreme Court to do away with homeschooling one day, then roll up your sleeves and get to work fortifying public opinion in favor of homeschooling and preventing the authoritarian Left from getting its grubby little mitts on the minds of every schoolchild in America.