Friday, March 13, 2009

And now you know...

the rest of the story.

This week in Raleigh, a couple of hours from my home, a judge in a divorce proceeding ruled that three children being homeschooled by their mother must now attend public school as their father wishes.

This is a very hot-button story. I have several friends who have all said they would never, ever, under any circumstance under the sun do anything but homeschool. Some are marching on Raleigh to protest this ruling.

But this story raises multiple questions in my mind. First of all, it's a divorce proceeding, so is this a vindictive husband trying to take power from his wife? Or is the wife using the homeschool time to try and change her children's feelings toward their father? We can't know. We aren't there for her lessons and we don't know if homeschooling was a source of discontent in the marriage. Second, according to the story on the children were not being homeschooled until their mother joined the Sound Doctrine church where, the story states, "all the children are homeschooled." Does this mean that if she left the church she would stop homeschooling? Or if she joined another church this decision would change based upon the beliefs of the church? Is the children's father a member of the church? Does he have a falling out with this group? Are the children members of the church? Do they feel they should be homsechooled as part of church doctrine. Third, do we really know if a public school education would be better for the children? Would it be worse? These children range in age from 10yrs to 12 yrs and have only been homeschooled for the past four years according to the story, do they have a preference?

It is very easy to see this as an attack on all homeschoolers. I could easily fall into the trap of being outraged, but there are so many unanswered questions. And for me they all lead back to the fact that this is a decision based out of a divorce proceeding. I don't think this is a landmark precedent case endangering the rights of all homeschoolers as the children's mother claims when she is quoted as saying, "I cannot sit back and allow this to happen to other homeschoolers." I know other divorced couples for whom this argument never entered their divorce settlement. Many homeschooled before the marriage ended and continued after. And there is no disagreement that the kids are doing well being homeschooled, the judge is not delivering any type of edict that homeschooling is inherently evil or wrong. He is making a decision based on this one situation. If the parties involved had not put this into their divorce settlement proceedings, there wouldn't be this type of fallout. This comes down to a disagreement between two adults regarding the raising of their children that they could not settle between themselves and forced into the courts.

Since none of us knows what is going on behind closed doors for this family, it is impossible for me to choose sides. The personal decisions between my husband and I about how to school our children do not appear to be affected by this as I am Catholic, READ: DIVORCE IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN and my husband, as a child of divorce, would not allow it to happen either. Until I know the rest of the story, I'm reserving judgment, on the homeschooling issue. To speak on the divorce issue, I will say this, it destroys lives. This case appears to be no exception. Children will be without both their parents together and, as this disagreement illustrates, may not be able to count on their parents to come together when it is in their best interest.