January 2006

For some odd reason I’m still reading the East Tennessean on a rather regular basis…maybe because it gives me such great material for my blog (then again, maybe I just really like being angry…who knows). This week Larry French authored an article titled Now Starring George Bush as Paul Bunyan, citing the evil big-businessmen and logging operations that want nothing more than to chop down our forests and destroy our precious planet. Mr. French uses the Sierra Club as his main source of information leaving a huge “other side of the story” unreported. Well I, faithful readers, will tell you about those loggers who want to cut down all our beautiful trees – from a logger’s perspective.

My best-good friend grew up in a New Hampshire logging family. Her daddy is a tree murderer (I’ve got those Sierra Clubbers hooked now, don’t I?). Interestingly, my friend and her family (along with the others in their business) have more respect for the forest than any tree-hugging hippie ever will. See, the logger knows that his livelihood is the forest – without it, he starves. Loggers don’t just run through forest after forest chopping down every tree in sight – especially since most logging companies are locally owned and operated, and they don’t want to have to pick up their families and move every time they run out of trees. So what do they do? They replant trees where they’ve logged. How phenomenally stupid would it be to destroy everything on which your business is based without replenishing the resource? After every major logging operation, there are teams of people who go through and plant new trees where the old were destroyed, ensuring that the next time they come around there will be more trees to cut and sell. The liberals would have you to believe that the only reason loggers replant is because of some legislation that was pushed through by the Sierra Club, but I’m here to tell you that it’s because loggers are good businessmen.

Another of French’s concerns is the Walden Bill, now in Congress, which would allow loggers to go in and harvest the remains of forests after natural disasters. In addition to the fact that the prevention of deforestation leads to many wildfires in the first place (we’ll get to that a little later), logging areas that have been destroyed by natural disaster is a perfect way to ensure that new trees will be planted. Loggers can use all that damaged wood, clean out the forest, and then replant. If we waited for nature to take its course we could be waiting a hundred years or more for the forest to take care of itself naturally. Anyone who has traveled to South Carolina in the last 18 years saw for themselves how devastating a major hurricane can be to the forest. To this day, when driving down a South Carolina highway, one can see those tall, tall trees, topless (from when the high winds snapped the trees in two), producing little, if anything, but the reminder of Hurricane Hugo and the devastation that it caused. Had loggers been allowed to come in and use those trees, we would be seeing new growth, rather than that old reminder.

Now to the issue of the Sierra Clubbers causing wildfires: loggers are rather indiscriminate when it comes to wood. New wood, old wood, dead wood – it doesn’t really matter because it can all be used for something. By going in and clearing out the old, dead wood, loggers help to prevent wild and uncontrollable forest fires. However, because of legislation that keeps loggers from doing their job, the forests are allowed to grow, die, and, ultimately, burn – destroying homes, businesses, and cute, snuggly bunnies in a raging inferno. Nature is more than willing and able to clear out the dead plants and trees through fire, but wouldn’t it be better to let the loggers do it so that, not only would we save homes, businesses, and bunnies, but we would get new forests when it’s all over?

Now, I’m not saying that we should chop down all the California redwoods or the Sequoias with which Mr. French is so concerned. Saving the forests is a noble effort, but the tree-huggers are fighting the wrong enemy. Loggers love the forest more than anybody, so maybe if they and the hippies joined forces, we would actually be able to save a few trees. It has been shown, though, that legislating loggers out of business is not the way to do it.


Believe it or not, this was originally published in ETSU’s student newspaper, The East Tennessean. Thank you Ed Feulner!

“It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.”
It could be a clip from one of today’s talk-radio shows. After all, federal spending has jumped 33 percent since President Bush took office. Washington now spends nearly $22,000 per household, the most since World War II. Government is doing so much “for” us, it’s difficult to keep track of everything it’s doing “to” us.
But the quote above actually comes from Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1981. Reading that speech again 25 years later – an exercise that would benefit many conservative policy-makers today – shows how far our country has come since then, and how far we still have to go.
“It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government,” Reagan told his countrymen back then.
Those “troubles” included high unemployment, gas lines and the Iranian hostage crisis. His predecessor’s attempts to respond to those troubles had failed. Indeed, in his famous “malaise” speech in 1979, President Carter basically told the American people to get used to a lower standard of living.
Reagan chose a different route: Cut taxes to generate economic growth. Stabilize the value of the dollar to ease inflation. Trim federal spending. Ease regulation.
Getting government out of the way allowed the American economy to flourish. GDP growth averaged 3.2 percent a year during the 1980s. Unemployment dropped and, with inflation under control, so did interest rates. Reaganomics produced a genuine economic miracle, and we’re still enjoying its effects to this day.
Overseas, too, Reagan launched a new era. “As we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom,” he announced.
Renewal was especially important, since earlier that day Iran had finally released the 52 Americans it had held hostage for 444 days. American pride was at a low ebb. But Reagan rebuilt our military, allowing Americans to regain our confidence and allowing the United States to remain the beacon of democracy.
Of course, Reagan’s reforms weren’t always enacted. “It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people,” Reagan added in his inaugural.
Unfortunately, this worthy goal was thwarted. As American affluence grew, we also allowed our government to grow – one of the reasons it now spends so much and promises even more than it can ever afford.
Reagan was always optimistic, though, as we should be today. “The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades,” he said. “They will not go away in days, weeks, or months but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.”
Some of the challenges we face today are different than the ones Reagan faced in 1981. Today, for example, we have to solve illegal immigration and fix unsustainable programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Some, though, are all too familiar, such as federal overspending, which was “mortgaging our future,” Reagan said.
But we’ll solve those problems, just as we solved the problems of unemployment, inflation and malaise in Reagan’s time. Because, as he would remind us 25 years after he took office: We’re Americans. Solving problems is what we do.
© 2006, The Heritage Foundation
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services

This one’s just too easy…

A consumer watchdog group has announced that it is suing Kellog Co. to try and force them to stop advertising to children. They claim that the Kellog Co. (along with McDonalds, Burger King, and who knows who else) is killing our children with their junk food commercials.

I’m sorry, but are 8-year-olds holding down jobs now and going to the grocery store on their own? Advertising or not, it’s the parents who actually buy the junk food. If you don’t want fat, unhealthy kids, don’t by them Cocoa Puffs. Your kids can whine and complain all day about how they saw this awesome commerical on Nikelodeon but, when it comes right down to it, you’re the one with the money and the ride to the grocery store, so don’t buy the Cocoa Puffs. End of story.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now, but this finally pushed me to do it:
From foxnews.com:
“By 58 percent to 36 percent, Americans think the president should have the power to authorize the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor electronic communications of suspected terrorists without getting warrants, even if one end of the communication is in the United States. Furthermore, six in 10 say they are personally okay with the NSA monitoring their international telephone calls.” WHAT?!?

People just aren’t thinking. I like to consider the “worst-case scenario” before making decisions about things such as this – especially when it comes to rights of the criminally accused or, as it is here, what is required to investigate a particular person. Right now we are searching for terrorists. I hate terrorists. They’re evil and need to be taken out; or, as Ann Coulter says, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.” However, while this administration is hunting for terrorists, what happens if, God forbid, our next administration decides to hunt for Christians (given the state of the ACLU and the democratic/socialist parties, as I have said in earlier blogs, this isn’t so far-fetched.) Lets just say that the next administration, or the one after that, uses exactly the power that we are currently granting Pres. Bush to eliminate Christians. Without the consent of a judge, that administration would be able to moniter our phone conversations, e-mail, etc. – without a warrant – and catch us in that evil (as they see it) talk of Christianity. Or, if you’re not a Christian, just imagine that the next administration is concerned about those of us who speak out against the government and decides – WITHOUT A WARRANT – to listen in on our phone calls because they feel that we could be a threat to national security. Scared yet?

It’s easy to say, “Well, if you’re not a terrorist, then you don’t have anything to worry about.” BALONEY! Give the government an inch and they’ll take a mile. Do you really think that, once the war on terror is over, any president is going to give up his power of warrentless surveillance ? In your sweet, innocent dreams. You may be comfortable with Pres. Bush having the power to authorize the NSA to surveill you, but what about (again, God forbid) Pres. Hillary Clinton? Are you OK with her having the power to listen in on your phone calls? I should certainly hope not. Or for those of you on the opposite side of the political fence, Pres. Jerry Fallwell?

We have to think long-term, worst-case scenario here, people. You absolutely cannot give any government power that you wouldn’t want your mortal enemy to have because, who knows, your mortal enemy just may be elected to office and get that very power.

In case you haven’t heard, there is a bill currently in both houses of Congress that would abolish the income tax, payroll taxes, death tax, and gift tax along with doing away with the IRS!

Imagine bringing home your ENTIRE paycheck!!!

The FairTax (HR.25 in the House and S.25 in the Senate) would replace all current income taxes (including the standard income tax along with payroll, gift, and death taxes) with a national sales tax at a rate of 23% on all new goods and services. Don’t panic! Economists’ current estimate is that somewhere around 22% is already embedded into the price of goods and services due to the current tax system. Since, of course, businesses don’t pay their own taxes, but instead pass them along to the consumer, we are already paying a 22% tax on goods and services…we just don’t notice it. By doing away with the current tax system, this 22% will fall away, leaving us with the actual cost of the good (for an example of this, read up on what happened when the tax on airline tickets expired. It only took one airline dropping its prices in order to become competitive to cause the price for all airline tickets to fall…ahhh, the beauty of a free market.) So, minus the 22% embedded tax that we are currently paying, a 23% sales tax would only add 1% to the prices of goods and services. Marvelous!

Don’t forget…you would be bringing home your ENTIRE paycheck! I don’t know about you, but that means another $400 per month for me!!!

Now, before someone tries to argue that this tax is regressive…
Proponents of the fairtax don’t believe that anyone (ANYONE) should have to pay taxes on those goods and services that are necessary for living (food, clothing, medicine, etc). So, the FairTax provides a prebate, paid to heads of households at the beginning of each month, in order to cover the taxes on what a family, made up of x number of people, needs in order to survive.

Not only will you be bringing home your ENTIRE paycheck, but you won’t have to pay taxes on groceries, clothing, or medicine! Brilliant!

The FairTax is a tax only on NEW goods and services. Need a car, but don’t want to pay the taxes? Easy, buy a used car. You only pay taxes on new cars. Want a house, but don’t want to pay taxes? Easy, buy a used home. You only pay taxes on new construction.

And you’re bringing home your ENTIRE paycheck!!!

What’s in it for the government? How could we possibly get this passed? The FairTax would mean absolutely no decrease in revenue for the federal government. They have nothing to lose, but we have everything to gain, like bringing home whole paychecks!

Can you tell I’m just a little excited about this proposal? I want you to be excited, too! Did I mention that you would get to bring home your entire paycheck?

For more information go to http://www.fairtax.org, pick up a copy of Neil Boortz’s “The FairTax Book”, or read the bill for yourself at http://www.house.gov (HR.25) or http://www.senate.gove (S.25), and then WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMEN! The only way this bill has a chance is if we let our representatives know that this is what we want. Remember, they won’t lose a penny of revenue, but we’ll each be taking home all the money that we earn!

This is a paper I wrote for an American Public Policy class and is informative for those interested in home schooling policy as well as those (like Tracy, from etricities) who may be interested in the history and motivation of the public school system. It’s long, but worth it!

Despite increased national attention on improving the United States’ education system through such measures as the “No Child Left Behind” Act, more parents each year are deciding to educate their children at home. Home schooling is nothing new, as it was the educational method of choice for a vast number of our founding fathers, continuing into the twentieth century (Lerner). Our country has, over the last 100 years, moved toward a more state-centered education system, but as parents become disenchanted with the public school system and crave more control over what their children are taught, many are choosing to return to the educational method of the past – home schooling. Because the United States made the move to a more state-centered education system, laws have been altered over the last few decades in order to accommodate those who wish to pursue home education rather than the education offered by the public system. I will here discuss a brief history of home schooling, the rationale of those who oppose home education on the grounds that society as a whole is not best served through home education, the laws and major Court decisions that have ensured that parents have the right to decide how their children will be educated, and the effect that the home schooling movement is expected to have on U.S. education policy in the future.

Compulsory education laws have existed in the United States since 1642, but Massachusetts became the first state to enact a compulsory attendance statute in 1852 (Page). Massachusetts’ enactment of compulsory attendance laws represents a fundamental shift in the way that the government views public schools. Prior to the enacting of compulsory attendance laws, public schools were viewed as institutions that assisted parents in their duty of educating their children. When government enacts compulsory attendance laws, a state interest in education is asserted over and above merely assisting with a duty that is considered to belong to the parents. During the middle half of the twentieth century, public school education became the status-quo, with some parents opting for private education, and very few educating their children at home. The modern home schooling movement began during the 1960’s with two very different groups making the newly rare decision to educate their children at home: the “New Left”, who was a group of parents dissatisfied with the restrictions placed on their children in public schools, and the religious movement, stemming from those who wanted to ensure a religious, rather than secular, education for their children (Bach). Home schooling was considered by many, although this is not entirely accurate, a fringe movement of parents, mostly in the Christian faith, who wanted to ensure that their children received a religious education, but either couldn’t afford parochial school or felt that the individual attention offered through home schooling would best benefit their children. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s home schooling moved from a fringe movement of approximately 300,000 home schooled students to a widespread phenomenon of nearly 1.5 million children educated at home as parents became upset with the lack of religious freedom within the public school system and the increase in drug-use and violence among public school children, along with increasing statistical evidence of the success of home schooled children.

Many opponents of home schooling believe that children educated at home will not be adequately “socialized.” This idea stems from two separate ideas of socialization: the first is the ability to interact with other children, and the second is from Dewey’s philosophy which supports the idea of giving all children an equal chance and “inculcating into pupils a world view necessarily different that the one he perceived to be prevalent” (Page). Dewey felt that proper education is essential for teaching children how to interact in the world and for training “by society in the views deemed appropriate” (Page) for members of a democracy in which training in science is imperative to the society’s welfare. The first argument, that children will be unable to interact with their peers, is easily refuted by the assertion that home schooling parents are particularly interested in their children’s upbringing and are more likely to encourage social interaction with other children and adults due to the simple fact that such action is one that is encouraged in order to produce a well-rounded child. Additionally, home schooled children are more likely to be exposed to a wider variety of children in differing age groups through scouting, church, and home school support groups than children in regular school situations in which age segregation is practiced. Some critics, however, will be dissatisfied with, not the amount of socialization, but with the type of socialization practiced. Especially in Christian homes, children are most likely going to socialize primarily with other children of the same faith and/or belief system. With, however, increasing access to public school activities and city sports organizations, this, too, is becoming less of a problem. Dewey’s argument, on the other hand, is most damaging to the home school argument for those who believe that it is the job of the state to ensure the proper education of its citizenry in that, in the home school environment, the state is unable to encourage the belief system that may be most beneficial to society as a whole.

Other home school opponents argue simply that parents are not qualified to teach their children, or, at the very least, are not qualified to teach advanced subjects. This argument has been diminished by statistical evidence that home schooling parents are currently educating their children as well if not better than their public school counterparts. To this, opponents answer that the success of under-credentialed home educators may work to diminish faith in the public school system and thus decrease funding for public education, easily making a bad public school situation worse.

It is also argued that some home schooled children will “slip through the cracks.” This argument brings up the concern that, while some home schooled children will excel, others will do poorly and, without state intervention, no one will know or be able to remedy the situation. To answer this problem, many states require home schooled students to take standardized tests and then prescribe remedial classes for children as needed.

One of the major arguments against home schooling is that it threatens public schools. This claim is put forth in two different ways: first, it is argued that extensive home schooling will result in decreased funding for public schools, especially if parents who educate their children at home are ever able to receive vouchers and/or tax credits as do parents who send their children to private schools. Secondly, according to Dewey, it is necessary for the excellence of the public school system to maintain the enrollment of even the most brilliant students – even if they are being held back by limited academic opportunities in the public schools. To remove some of the best and brightest students from the public school system in order to educate at home – for whatever reason – according to Dewey, is inherently unfair to the students who must remain in the public school system. Dewey argued that any good parent must want what is best not only for his/her own child, but also for all children in the community, and keeping children in the public school system is a requirement to ensure that all children receive equal education – even at the risk of personal freedom and excellence.

It is for the reasons listed above that home schooling has become such a heated political battle. Parents who desire to educate their children at home are at odds with those who believe that there is a significant government interest in educating our country’s children. Although the maintenance and regulation of education is primarily a state issue, the Supreme Court has ruled on issues affecting home schooling across the nation, and legislation on a national level has primarily given more freedom to parents who wish to educate at home rather than less.

Thirty six states have home school statutes, while thirteen states and the District of Columbia allow home schooling under private tutor, private school, or parochial school statutes. The state of Connecticut has no home schooling statute, but allows it through the Department of Education. Regulation of home schooling varies greatly across the country, including two states, Alaska and Idaho, which leave home schooling essentially unregulated. Of those states which do impose regulation of home schooling, some of those regulations include notice of intent to home school, curriculum requirements, attendance requirements, standardized testing, record keeping, and parental education requirements. A few states require teacher certification of parents, although some of those statutes have been deemed to pose an undue burden on home schooling parents unless the state offers other options to meet the certification requirement. Thirty nine states have notice requirements, which require parents to file written notification to education officials of their intent to home school their children. Some states require a one-time notice, while others require annual notification. Notice requirements have withstood Constitutional challenges.

Another way by which some states regulate home schooling is by instituting curriculum requirements, including subjects that must be taught, textbook submissions, or detailed lesson plans that must be submitted and approved by the state. Attendance requirements, such as the ones used in thirty one states and the District of Columbia, call for parents to spend a particular number of hours per day, week, month, or year on schooling. Standardized testing requirements typically compel home schooled students to take the same standardized tests that public school children must take. Although it has been argued that standardized test scores are poor indicators of academic performance, many states still impose this requirement. Record keeping requirements have been instituted in only twenty two states and the District of Columbia and require that parents either merely maintain the records or submit them at the end of each year. The records must include such information as attendance records, lesson plans, and/or immunization records. Some states impose minimum education requirements for parents ranging from a high school diploma or equivalent to a baccalaureate degree. States that enforce these requirements, however, often offer other options for parents to meet the standards.

Congress has recently entered the home education battle as Idaho Senator Larry Craig introduced the “Home School Non-Discrimination Act” (HONDA) of 2005. This bill, if passed, will clarify current home schooling legislation which is inadvertently discriminatory towards home schoolers. Statutes that would be altered by HONDA would allow home school students to apply for the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program and place home schoolers on par with public and private school students when entering the military. Currently home schoolers are not permitted to apply for the aforementioned scholarship program and, when entering the military are listed as “Tier II” recruits, which places them on the same level with GED recipients and high-school dropouts. These are areas where home schooled children have been treated differently and, in the eyes of Senator Byrd, unfairly in the past. HONDA would also clarify that those institutions of higher education who accept home schooled students would still be eligible for federal funds and would allow parents to use Coverdell Savings Accounts to cover home schooling expenses just as parents who are allowed to use these accounts for private school educational purposes. (“The America’s Intelligence Wire”)

While the Supreme Court has never ruled on home schooling per se, home schooling advocates have heralded four primary sources in the Constitution from which they derive the right to home school their children and many lower court decisions have affirmed these assertions. The Fourteenth Amendment is proclaimed as a major indicator of the constitutionality of home schooling, particularly through the Due Process Clause which has been said to apply in three different ways to the right to home school (Lukasik). First, the Due Process Clause has been interpreted to protect the parents’ right to home school their children in that it allows for parents to control the education of their offspring. Second, the Due Process Clause prohibits laws that are too vague, which advocates of home schooling have argued can be applied to compulsory attendance laws, particularly in the way they are applied to home schooling. Third and finally, the Due Process Clause prohibits laws or regulations that give more than acceptable administrative power to a particular agency, and this can be applied to home schooling statutes that require approval from a school board or superintendent before they may begin educating their children at home.

The Supreme Court has typically used three inquiries in making decisions on whether a state statute, such as one that limits access to home schooling, infringes on an individual’s right to free exercise of religion. The first is whether the state action does, in fact, infringe upon the individual’s rights, i.e., whether the claim is a legitimate one rather than some arbitrary assertion. Courts have consistently found a burden if the governmental act forces the individual to choose between following the state statute and abandoning the precepts of his/her religion. If it is determined that the statute forces such a decision on the part of the individual, the Court then determines whether the state has a compelling interest in enforcing such a statute, usually to the extent of the state having to show a “clear and present danger” that is at stake without the statute. Finally, if the state shows that the statute is necessary, then the Court must determine whether accommodating the individual will unjustifiably interfere with the fulfillment of the governmental interest. (Whitehead) Using this line of reasoning, the Court made landmark decisions that, although not directly related to home schooling, had a major impact on allowing parents the right to educate their children at home.

There are three major Supreme Court cases, all from the 1920’s, which assert the parents’ right to decide the “manner and means” of their children’s education (Lukasik). In Meyer v Nebraska the Court struck down a Nebraska statute that forbade any public or private schoolteacher from teaching any language other than English. The Court affirmed the parents’ right to decide what language their children would speak and to request that their children be taught in their native tongue if they so desired. The Court essentially declared that the Nebraska statute interfered with both a teacher’s fundamental right to decide to engage in the profession of teaching and a parent’s right to encourage and control their children’s education which, according to this Court, are liberties afforded by the Due Process Clause. Because these liberties were ascribed to the individuals through the Constitution, the state’s interests were placed under strict scrutiny and were considered inferior to the rights of parent’s and teachers in deciding in what manner children are to be educated. (Good)

Shortly after deciding in the Meyer case, the Court was asked to consider Pierce v Society of Sisters which called into question an Oregon statute which required that every parent of guardian of a child between the ages of 8 and 16 is required to send said child to the public school and that failure to do so was considered a misdemeanor. Two schools, one religious and one a private military institution challenged the statute. The Court reasoned that no liberty afforded by the Constitution may be abridged by a state “which has no reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the state” (Lukasik). The state could present no legitimate reason to standardize all children within its boundaries by forcing them to be taught only by public school teachers, and thus the statute was struck down.

Soon after Pierce, the Court affirmed Meyer and additionally recognized a parental right to seek out education outside of the public school system. Farrington v Tokushige was the third case decided during the 1920’s which outlined the rights of parents to decide the means and manner of their children’s education. In Farrington, the Court upheld and expanded Meyer and Pierce by ruling that once parents make the decision to educate their children outside of the public school system, the state may not interfere or impede the performing of that education through unreasonable regulations imposed on parents after-the-fact. More specifically, the Court decided that the state may not regulate the details in the day-to-day running of the alternative school in such a way that would deny the students and the educators their freedom to run said school in the way that they see fit. (Lukasik)

Many argue that Meyer, Pierce, and Farrington, while not dealing directly with home schooling, laid the foundation for a Constitutional right for parents to decide the educational direction of their children. So, while it was not decided during the 1920’s that there existed a Constitutional right for parents to direct their children’s education from home, Meyer, Pierce and Farrington established the groundwork for a Court-determined entitlement.

In 1972, the Court accepted to opportunity to apply Meyer in a case of an Amish parent who argued that he had the right to remove his children from school after completing the eighth grade, as per Amish custom, despite state compulsory attendance laws in Wisconsin v Yoder. Wisconsin’s compulsory attendance law required that all children attend either a public or private educational institution until they reach the age of 16. The respondents, rather than sending their children to public or private schools, opted to instruct their children, ages 14 and 15, at home, in the manner outlined in their religious practices, teaching their children the ways and customs of the Amish faith. The Supreme Court ruled that the Wisconsin statute was unconstitutional as applied in that it 1) impeded the right to Free Exercise of Religion for Amish families in the state, and 2) that the statute prevented Amish families from deciding and directing the education of their children. The Court expressly held that parents have a right to determine the education and religious upbringing, which lies over and above the state’s desire to direct the education of all children. In Yoder, the Court upheld Pierce, and affirmed its application in home school situations.

Another Constitutional right that home school parents assert as a means to validate the right to home school is the First Amendment’s right to free speech and the right to free exercise of religion. Because the vast majority of parents who home school their children do so because they believe that education should be “Bible-centered”, if the state prevents parents from acting on this desire, it impedes parental rights to the free exercise of religion and is thus unconstitutional. This idea was substantiated in the Yoder case, in which the Court decided that the parental right to freely practice their religion, in that the values present in the public school system was vastly contrary to Amish beliefs, overrode the state’s desire to educate all children “equally.”

Because education, as it currently stands, is primarily the concern of the states, as opposed to the federal government, statutes and state court decisions in the different states vary greatly. It cannot, however, be denied that home schooling is on the rise and that nearly every state has had or will have to make a decision on their treatment of home educators and children who have been taught at home. As the home schooling movement expands, many speculate the effects that increased parental control over education and lessening interest in public schooling will have on the public school system as a whole. Although some may argue that this will be just the push that the public school system needs to improve, others believe that the public school system, without its best and brightest students, will get continually worse. (Hill)

Those who argue that the home schooling movement will force the public school system to improve point to actions like the “No Child Left Behind Act” as something that shows that a worsening education system will draw the attention of the national government and force changes to improve. These public school supporters also argue that, even if hordes of parents take their children out of the public school system in order to educate them at home, there are still numerous bright and exemplary students who will maintain public faith in the public school system. Some also argue that, without Christian parents “meddling” in public school curriculum, teachers will be free to educate based on science, rather than the religious beliefs of those who happen to live within the district.

There are those, on the other hand, who fear that home schooling will drain the public school system of its best and brightest (for these students are typically the ones whose parents take the greatest interest in their children’s education), leading to an even greater crisis in public education. With fewer exceptional students attending and fewer parents supporting the public school system, a bad situation may only become worse. The public and government leaders must ask, however, if the focus should be on the condition of the public school system, or the education of our children. Many home schooling parents will argue that we must ensure that our children are educated to their utmost, be that at home or in the public school.
Without question, the home schooling movement is growing to a greater extent each year and the state must ensure that those who would like to home school have the opportunity, but also that those who are not able to educate at home still have an acceptable alternative in the public school system. Slowly but surely, the states must place their focus on ensuring that each and every child has adequate access to education, be that at home, in the private sector, or in the public school system.

Works Cited
Bach, Laura J. “For God or Grades? States Imposing Fewer Requirements on Religious Home Schoolers and the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment.” Valparaiso University Law Review, Valparaiso University, © 2004.
“Craig Introduces Home School Bill.” The America’s Intelligence Wire, © Sept 13, 2005. (as accessed through JSTOR)
Good, Heather M. “”The Forgotten Child of Our Constitution”: The Parental Free Exercise Right to Direct the Education and Religious Upbringing of Children.” Emory Law Journal, Emory University School of Law, © 2005.
Hill, Paul T. “How Home Schooling Will Change Public Education.” Hoover Digest, © 2000.
Lerner, Jon S. “Protecting Home Schooling through the Casey Undue Burden Standard.” University of Chicago Law Review, University of Chicago, © 1995.
Lukasik, Lisa M. “The Latest Home Education Challenge: The Relationship Between Home Schools and Public Schools.” North Carolina Law Review, © 1996.
Page, Bruce D., Jr. “Changing Our Perspective: How Presumptive Invalidity of Home School Regulations Will Further the State’s Interest in an Educated Citizenry.” Regent University Law Review, Regent University, © 2001/2002.
Whitehead, John W. & Crow, Alexis Irene. Home Education: Rights and Reasons. The Rutherford Institute, © 1993.

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.
– William H. Borah

On that note, watch for my take on the Fairtax proposal. If you haven’t heard of the fairtax, go to http://www.fairtax.com or check out “The Fairtax Book”, by Neil Boortz.

Happy New Year!