For Immediate Release.
From the Desk of Attorney David Gibbs III, President of the National Center for Life and Liberty and Director of the NCLL's Homeschool Center.
April 22, 2015
This past week, media attention exploded over two Michigan children whose bodies were found in a freezer where they had been hidden for the past 2 years. Their mother, who murdered them, had kept questions about the children at bay during the last couple of years by claiming they were being homeschooled. After the story broke, and with predictable speed and ready media coverage, Michigan State Representative Stephanie Chang announced legislation that would require homeschool families to submit to meeting with a mandatory child abuse reporter twice a year.
Not every societal ill has a quick legislative fix and this truly is just another example of one of our representatives seeking to gain some notoriety on the back of a tragedy.
The Detroit mother, Mitchelle Blair, faces murder charges after her two minor children's bodies were found by an eviction officer last month. The children allegedly were tortured, killed, and then stuffed into the family freezer, where they remained until their discovery in the eviction.
What is government's answer to such evil? More laws. More laws that serve to constrain and punish the homeschooling parents of Michigan who fought great battles in the 1980's and 1990's to keep the practice of homeschooling free. The child abuse committed by this one mother has nothing to do with homeschooling and any infringement of the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children will not solve the problem of evil in our society.
If there is indeed a connection between crimes committed against children and the method in which children are being educated, the government would do well to mind its own house first. Statistics maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics prove that, despite the near-constant vigilance that is maintained to prevent criminal activity in our public schools, crime is running rampant. From their Fast Facts page: "From July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011, there were 31 school-associated violent deaths in elementary and secondary schools in the United States." Furthermore, in the 2009-2010 school year (the most recent year for which these stats from the NCES are available), 85% of public schools reported incidents of violence, amounting to almost 2 million crimes. 85%! This was just one year in our nation's public schools. Our violence-drenched public schools testify to the fact that controlled oversight of education does not prevent crimes against children.
Representative Chang's proposed legislation would not just require every homeschooled child to be registered with their school district; it would also mandate two home visits every year from a doctor, teacher or social worker---people required by law to report reasonable suspicions of child abuse or neglect. Such infringement of a parent's constitutional right to home educate their children and the negative stigma this bill places on homeschooling parents is not justified. It will do nothing to curtail child abuse.