Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More on Credentialing

Dana at Principled Discovery has an excellent post that continues the discussion with Stephen Downes by responding to Half an Hour: Homeschooling, Abuse and Qualifications.

One important point that Dana makes is:

When a parent chooses to send his child to public school, the school (the state, if you will), acts “in loco parentis,” in the place of the parent, in executing those duties which primarily befall the parent.

Stephen, on the other hand, says this:

We need some sort of evaluation, some sort of assessment. Something that would indicate to us, incidentally, that the 'involved' parent can also fill some of the functions of the teachers they are replacing.

And there's the problem because, as Dana points out, it's the teachers who are replacing the parents.

When I choose to homeschool, I do not act “in loco regimenis” (or whatever the Latin would be).

Certainly, if it is discovered that I am manifestly unqualified to teach, the state has some obligation to ensure that proper decisions are being made with respects to the education of my minor children. But the burden of the proof is on the state to show that I am not fulfilling this, it is not on me to prove that I am. Much like the burden of proof rests with the state in proving probable cause to search my home for drugs, rather than on me should an officer knock on my door.

And this, I believe, is the central disagreement between Stephen and me.

I agree and I'd add that Dana's position is the one that's the truer reflection of how society treats the issue. We don't ask parents to provide qualifications when it comes to issues of parenting skills or nutrition. We step in when it becomes evident that there's a question of abuse or neglect. Why hold homeschoolers to a different standard?

I'm basically reiterating Dana's points but they're important points and contrast Stephen's argument with the reality of how society and government views the role of parents.

I'd also like to make a small comment about Stephen's closing comment in his post because it seems awkward to say the least:

The law must be made, not just for you, but for those other people. We need to know that you are not one of those people. 1,460 children died due to child abuse or neglect. Is it too much to ask for some guarantee that your children will not be among those statistics?

A little earlier Stephen says, "But it simply does not follow that the only people who try homeschooling are those who are qualified for it." But wait a minute, If someone is going to point out non sequiturs in others then doesn't it follow that that someone should attempt to avoid them? What sources, studies or information does Stephen have that would rescue that last paragraph from being simply a baseless emotional appeal? I may have missed something so Stephen or anyone else is wwelcome to point it out.

And thanks for continuing the conversation Stephen!


Dana said...

Baseless emotional appeal? But it is for the children, Dawn!

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I do wonder just how much we are willing to give up "for the children," however.

Dawn said...

I forgot about the children!

I don't know, for a guy who goes on about about logic and reason there's a whole lot of emotion and assumptions in his posts and his response to comments. Sunniemom had a gem of a response from him for instance...Which I can't find. :) I'll have to email her.