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Barely Literate? How Christian Fundamentalist Homeschooling Hurts Kids

The Religious Right touts homeschooling as the "responsible" educational choice. But what about the kids whose parents opt-out of the system -- and out of educating them, as well?

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Furthermore, as a sister to several children with cognitive disabilities, Palmer highlights the particular attention that homeschooled children with special needs deserve. “If kids have disabilities, the government needs to make sure that the disabilities are being addressed either by the parents or by an intervening agency.…A child with disabilities,” she notes, “has as much right to an appropriate education” as any other child.

Just before we hang up the phone, she makes a final request: “Please spread the word that it is really necessary for the government to make sure children aren’t being robbed of an education… Kids have rights too, and one of them is the right to an education appropriate to their age and ability.” 

It’s an important point, and I conclude with it because it is one of the more incisive analyses I’ve heard on this topic yet. There is simply no justification for allowing cases of educational neglect – wherever it exists – to go unchecked. We need not imprison more parents to make sure this happens, but improving state and local oversight of those who opt out would be one step in the right direction. As Garrison, Diegel Martin and Palmer acknowledge, better checks on their own home education would have made a vast difference for them. This is why, they say, they will continue to speak out. 

Kristin Rawls is a freelance writer whose work has also appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, GOOD Magazine, Religion Dispatches, Killing the Buddha, Global Comment and elsewhere online.

 
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