One of the biggest concerns I have about the Christian homeschooling movement is that its proponents usually oppose any form of regulation. They don’t want anyone checking up on parents to make sure they’re doing the bare minimum necessary to educate their children, a stance that allows neglectful parents to slip through the cracks.
Michael McIntyre and Laura McIntyre are perfect examples of what I’m talking about. In 2004, they removed all nine of their children from a private school so they could be homeschooled. But Michael’s brother Tracy said he “never observed the children pursuing traditional schoolwork” when they were supposed to be learning.
Tracy overhead one of the McIntyre children tell a cousin that they did not need to do schoolwork because they were going to be raptured.
It wasn’t until their 17-year-old daughter Tori ran away from home so she could “attend school” that the McIntyres were more closely scrutinized. When Tori’s high school needed to know her level of education and what curriculum she had used so they could place her properly, administrators contacted her parents… and they refused to cooperate. They argued that a previous Supreme Court ruling let them off the hook from compulsory, regulated education for their children beyond eighth grade.
A lawsuit resulting from that clash was temporarily resolved last week when an Appeals Court ruled that the Supreme Court’s decision didn’t apply to them:
The appeals court ruled that educational regulations did not prevent the McIntyres’ First Amendment right to “free exercise of religion.” The court said that 1972 court case which found that Amish did not have to send their children to school after the eighth grade did not exempt the McIntyres.
“No parents have ever prevailed in any reported case on a theory that they have an absolute constitutional right to educate their children in the home, completely free of any state supervision, regulation, or requirements,” the ruling stated. “They do not have an ‘absolute constitutional right to home school.’”
What does that mean? Well, in Texas, you can’t homeschool your children with no oversight whatsoever. It flies in the face of everything the (conservative Christian) Home School Legal Defense Association wants, which is invisibility from regulators, but it’s what’s best for the children.
By the way, how about a huge Internet hand for Tori McIntyre for realizing that she was deprived of an education and having the courage to go seek it out for herself? I hope that, like children who were raised in the Westboro Baptist Church but who later escaped, her siblings will follow in her footsteps.
No word yet on whether the HSLDA will fight the ruling.