The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism — First Principles

December 17, 2017

FEATURE ARTICLES
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Crime Against the State: Why Progressives Hate Homeschooling
Thomas E. Woods, Jr. - 02/14/08

The homeschooling movement in the United States has reached a level of institutional maturity that few could have predicted only a decade or two ago. A massive infrastructure is in place, from curriculum companies to social groups, catering to the millions of people who engage in homeschooling. The movement remains as unpopular as ever in fashionable circles, to be sure, but by now the standard arguments against homeschooling are so trite and predictable that families who practice it are able to parry them with little effort.

Once in a while, though, we get a glimpse of the real reason homeschooling is so despised.

By now a great many bloggers and homeschool activists have heard about the case of fifteen-year-old Melissa Busekros of Germany and her three-month ordeal with the authorities. Having fallen behind in her math and Latin, Busekros had been kept home by her parents to receive private tutoring. That unthinkable offense violated anti-homeschool statutes in place since the days of Adolf Hitler—who of course demanded state control of education—and Busekros found herself expelled from school.

Oh, and on February 1, 2007, the government placed the girl first in a psychiatric ward and then in a foster home. She had “school phobia,” you see.

Although her parents were permitted to see her, they were not told where she was staying. In March, Busekros wrote an open letter in which she pleaded for her “right to go back to my family, as I wish,” and insisted: “I am not sick as the doctor said and my family is the best place for me to live.” The latter remark is a reference to the psychological evaluation, so vague as to be a parody of psychiatry itself, on which her removal from her family was justified. (The state’s own testing later found the girl to be perfectly normal.)

Now none of this has anything to do with homeschooling, German officials insisted. They were just concerned for the well-being of this young girl.

But Wolfgang Drautz, consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany, gave the game away. First, in defending the importance of school attendance he explained that school “teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct.” Such a claim is risible enough: one of the reasons some of us intend to homeschool our children is precisely that we don’t want them learning “social conduct” from the slobs and vulgarians who roam the halls of the typical public school. It takes time and effort to raise well-mannered and civilized children, and we do not intend to see that good work undone by sending them to the local savage factory.

Still, that misplaced objection to homeschooling is not unusual. But things turned rather sinister when Drautz went on to warn that “the public has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different world views and in integrating minorities into the population as a whole. If we are to achieve integration, not only must the majority of the population prevent the ostracization of religious minorities or minorities with different world views, but minorities must also remain open and engage in dialogue with those who think differently or share different beliefs.”

He neglected to add: or we’ll take their children.

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