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March 2013

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Is There a Fundamental or Unalienable Right to Homeschool?

Written by , Posted in Big Government, Education, Liberty & Limited Government

Do parents have the rights to educate their own children? That’s the question at the heart of an ongoing legal battle between the Obama administration and a German couple who sought, and were originally granted, political asylum in the US on the grounds that Germany’s ban on homeschooling was a violation of their rights, and that being forced to return home would subject them to persecution. Reason covered the issue rather thoroughly in this video:

After a judge originally granted the couple’s request, noting that Germany’s policy was “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans,” the Obama administration naturally stepped up to defend the indefensible, claiming that homeschooling is “not a fundamental right.”

This is an outrageous assertion. There are few rights more fundamental than that of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. The US Supreme Court has afforded parental rights the respect they deserve, noting in Pierce v. Society of Sisters that “the child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right and the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”

Given its views on power in general, I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising to see the Obama administration disagree. Parental authority is, after all, in direct competition with that of the state, and is an important and necessary check against the growth of tyranny. It’s no coincidence that a Nazi-era German law is at issue here. Affording the state the unique power to indoctrinate the next generation with its own propaganda, without competition or recourse, is a serious threat to basic human liberty, and is also why we need to do a lot more than the basic minimum of allowing home or private schooling in the US. We need to end government monopoly schooling across the country and replace it with a system of choice, not only to improve educational outcomes, but also in defense of our liberty.