Sunday, November 20, 2005

Checks and Balances

Further on the Pennsylvania homeschooling teen murderer: it's interesting to note that these murders happened in a state where homeschooling is as tightly controlled as anywhere in the US.

Apparently the law:

"enables everyone to homeschool if they could find an evaluator (a teacher, former teacher, or psychologist) who would certify that their children were receiving an appropriate education".

So presumably the family of the murderer had been so assessed, which would rather incline one to draw the conclusion that these checks are utterly spurious. It is sad to see that precisely the reverse conclusion is also drawn, and doubly sad that this comes from the pen of a supposed home-schooling advocate:

Self-appointed home schooling educrat: Howard Richman, again of Pa

"This message board recognizes that homeschoolers are not perfect and we like the fact that the homeschool law in Pennsylvania recognizes that that homeschool parents need accountability and checks and balances".

Hmmm. I am at a loss to understand precisely how he arrived at such a conclusion in the current circumstances. Is he actually calling for much more accountability and checks? Should he not really now be calling for checks and balances on the people doing the checks and balances, ad infinitum?

Just to make my own position clear on this. I am of the opinion that many minds may provide a substrate for better answers, but these answers are always formulated in the minds of one person, even in the situation of collating average information from large groups. There is often much benefit in seeking out others for help and criticism. However it is infinitely superior if this is achieved without coercion, so that criticism is freely sought and may be either acted on or rejected freely, whilst being subject to further critical thought.

By forcing people to accept unwanted intrusion into their private lives and by controlling them without their consent, we not only risk damage from inept or corrupt bureaucracies, but we also foreclose on the genuine possibility of autonomous rational thought and freely chosen responsible action.

Home Educators may easily be alerted to the usefulness of freely chosen and critiqued criticism through many channels, such as the support charities, the websites, the listservs, the on-line discussion groups, and the groups with whom they socialise. There is no need to force compliance to a prescribed rule upon people, since, to paraphrase Godwin: if something is good it can be shown to be good.

The PA murders seem to suggest that this would be the better way to go.


Daryl Cobranchi said...

Perhaps it'd be more clear if you knew that Richman's organization is "licensed" by the state to provide those unnecessary checks and balances. For a fee, of course. IAATM? You make the call.

* It's All About The Money

Anonymous said...

It just proves strict homeschooling is worse than schooling.

Carlotta said...

Re: strict home schooling being worse than is certainly possible to see how this could be the case!

Carlotta said...

re: IAATM: Ahhh, riiighht, that does help explain it. I wonder how I came to miss this point on his webite....

Anyway, am off to apply for a licence right now, so I can check on the checkers!

Clare said...

I think the other concern of forcing people to be checked up on (a la Health Visitors etc.) is that it forces people (like us) 'underground' when we should be out there making these alternative ways of parenting more normal and accessible. But when we have someone watching over us and the possibility of being told we're doing it wrong, or we're 'not allowed' to do something, means we 'hide' from them! What's so stupid about it all is that it's totally counter-productive for the ptb. Eg. I felt much happier calling my old HV for help, who hadn't stuck her nose in my business and had told me that I didn't have to have A weighed or vaxed if I didn't want her to be, than calling my new one who is constantly on the phone telling me about when A (and R) ought to be having checks etc. and trying to get me to come down to the clinic and if I don't come then they'll come to me etc. etc. I don't want to ask her anything and would rather just ignore the phone when it rings! Sorry that turned out long, but I feel quite strongly about the way that people who could actually do with help sometimes may well feel that they don't want to ask for it because of how controlling these terrible HCPs can be!