Monday, September 02, 2002

UCLA law professor EUGENE VOLOKH has posted some comments regarding home schooling, and his belief that government-mandated testing of home-schoolers is a reasonable government requirement. Some have already tackled this topic like DARYL COBRANCHI, and SKIP OLIVA, who completely broke down Eugene’s argument. Because I was one of Eugene’s readers who accused him of not being very libertarian in his argument, I wanted to make a few comments here.

First, I don’t understand why the government would hold home-schoolers and their parents to a higher standard than the government holds itself. Eugene is arguing that home-schoolers should be required to “get good results on periodic tests,” but there is no requirement that public school children “get good results on periodic tests.” Eugene continues by stating, “failing to make sure that one's kids are adequately educated seems to me to be a form of child abuse, and I think the government is morally entitled to protect kids against this.” So will we also consider charging inept public-school teachers and administrators with child abuse when their students can't read or write? The government cannot meet these standards, so it is hypocritical of the government to force private individuals to meet government-invented standards.

Second, Eugene invented the idea that government granted parents “dictatorial control” over their children. The government never granted this power of parental responsibility to parents; it existed in nature. Since the government didn’t grant these powers, it doesn’t follow that the government can set reasonable limits on this parental power--in this case, testing and verifying the effectiveness of home schooling. A parent has a contractual obligation to care for a child until majority, and is financially and legally liable for many of the child’s actions. So it rightly follows that parents can use the coercive power of the government--power Eugene doesn't find very libertarian for a parent to use--to enforce this parental contract and protect against financial and legal liabilities.

And third, Eugene is really making the lowest-common-denominator argument here. Because a few are incapable, the rest of us should be made to suffer. Phrased another way: “What about those who can’t take care of themselves?” This is basically the foundation and justification of socialism in America. This argument is arrogant and elitist, especially considering how few people there really are who truly can’t take care of themselves. The lowest-common-denominator doctrine is why public schools have been dumbed down to the point of uselessness, which is why so many parents are home-schooling their children in the first place!