Friday, January 15, 2010
Martha Fineman has posted her new paper, Taking Children's Interests Seriously. Predictably, she laments our society's preoccupation with parental rights, particularly in the area of education. She argues that "public education should be mandatory and universal." What exactly is the problem with allowing home schooling and private schools? She makes a lot of arguments, mostly unsubstantiated. She argues that allowing families to opt out of public schools is reinstituting segregation in urban areas. I could be mistaken, but I think that's a function of segregated neighborhoods more than public school opt outs, and I believe that urban Catholic schools have a pretty good record on integration.
Fineman concedes that parents know their children better than the state does, but suggests that the knowledge relates to matters such as whether the child likes to eat carrots, or whether the child prefers the color red to the color blue. On more fundamental matters, we should defer to the"experts" -- i.e., the professional educators. Most parents, I'm guessing, do not share Fineman's view of the parent-child relationship.
Among the many eyebrow-raising assertions in the paper, there is one jaw-dropper:
[S]tate policies favoring parental choice in home schooling children have resulted in several egregious instances of parental neglect and abuse. Just this year, two home schooled children in Washington, D.C. were brutally murdered by their own mother, yet their decomposing bodies were not discovered until well after their deaths. The mother’s ability to home school her children without any state oversight arguably enabled her to repeatedly torture and ultimately murder her children without anyone noticing.
End violence against children by making sure they're all in public schools? Right.