Massive Opposition Kills Hawaii Anti-homeschool Bill

The New American – by Alex Newman

A tsunami of opposition was able to derail an extreme bill in Hawaii, known as SB2323, that would have treated homeschool families as guilty until proven innocent. Among other controversies, the scheme would have required background checks and child-welfare investigations of all homeschool parents to determine whether they are suitable for raising their own children. It also would have required state approval before a family could homeschool. Unfortunately for homeschoolers, the author of the bill vowed to submit a new one in the next legislative session.   

Citing several “high-profile abuse cases,” the lawmaker behind the legislation, Democrat State Senator Kaialii Kahele, suggested parents were by nature suspicious — especially if they want to be in charge of their children’s education. As such, under his bill, parents would have been subjected to intrusive state screening before being “allowed” to remove their children from government education. Almost incredibly, the senator described the public schools as a “layer of protection,” apparently with a straight face. He also described home education as a “loophole” through which parents were being allowed to remove their children from the alleged “protection” of government.

Of course, in the real world, government schools are destroying children physically, mentally, and spiritually — not to mention academically — on an industrial scale. More than half of California children cannot even read at a proficient level, based on the state’s own data. In places such as Washington, D.C., government data shows two-thirds of adults are functional illiterates! That does not even touch on the explosion of violence, shootings, suicides, drug use, abortions, gender confusion, and more that has proliferated in schools as God has been systematically removed from the classroom.

Speaking of abuse, which the senator purports to be concerned about, a brief online search would have revealed to him that children are far more likely to be abused in a government school than by homeschool parents. According to a report mandated by Congress, as many as 4.5 million students out of 50 million in government schools are subject to sexual misconduct by a school employee between kindergarten and 12th grade. A U.S. Department of Education study from 2002 estimated six percent to 10 percent of all government-school students will be abused at school.

“Think the Catholic Church has a problem?” wondered Hofstra University researcher Charol Shakeshaft, who investigated the issue and has been widely cited even in the establishment press. “The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.” Indeed, government research confirms that as well.

By contrast, the available evidence “shows that homeschooled children are abused at a lower rate than are those in the general public, and no evidence shows that the home educated are at any higher risk of abuse,” explained Dr. Brian Ray, who leads the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) and is perhaps the world’s leading scholar in the field. One estimate cited in testimony against the Hawaii bill said homeschool children have 40 percent fewer abuse fatalities than the national average.

And yet, despite the rampant sexual abuse in government schools, and the lack of abuse by homeschool families, the Hawaii bill still singled out homeschoolers for intrusive, humiliating, and almost certainly unconstitutional abuse at the hands of the state. Incredibly, the scheme even passed its first reading in the legislature before finally dying a well-deserved death when the sponsor pulled it in the face of massive opposition. While he apologized for offending homeschool families, Senator Kahele, the sponsor, promised to return next session with another bill on the issue — to “protect” the “children, of course.

Perhaps even more incredibly, the extremist legislation to target home-educating families had the support of a fringe but powerful prosecutor. “This bill facilitates the coordination between the Department of Education and Child Welfare Services to ensure that no child in the state of Hawai’i falls through the ‘cracks’ of our justice, child welfare and education systems,” said Hawai‘i County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth, pointing to a non-homeschooled child who died tragically 20 years ago — after authorities returned him to his abusers — to argue in favor of treating loving parents like suspects.

It was not clear how many sex abusers from government schools — obviously far more numerous than parents — Roth has prosecuted, if any. But if his comments are any indication, he is chomping at the bit to go after homeschoolers under the guise of protecting them. “This measure is desperately needed if we, as a community, recognize the importance of ensuring that every child in our state is afforded a safe, nurturing home,” said Roth, again implying that it was the state’s duty to treat parents as guilty until proven innocent.

Critics were quick to highlight the shocking dishonesty of those peddling that phony narrative. “SB-2323 inaccurately uses the story about Peter Boy [the boy who died in 1997] as a basis for passage,” said Honolulu County GOP Chairman Brett Kulbis. “Anyone who has monitored this case over the years, knows Peter Boy was not a home schooler. But, across the State everyone was appalled when they found out that state authorities, who were aware of the abuse to Peter Boy, in fact returned him to the abusive home. However, this has absolutely nothing to do with home schooling.”

One of the activists responsible for killing the bill was Hawaii Homeschool Network chief Nicole Ryan, a homeschool parent and a certified teacher employed by the Hawaii Department of Education who has seen the system up close. In a letter to the editor, Ryan outlined some of the myriad other problems with the bill. “Requiring criminal background checks of current homeschooling families who are law abiding is both costly and unnecessary, as those aren’t the families that this law intends to wrangle,” said Ryan, a teacher who withdrew her own children from government schools so they could be properly educated. “Home visits are a clear invasion of privacy. Finally, approval of a local principal would be a burden on the school that takes away the valuable time and focus needed for all the keiki who are enrolled at their school.”

Ryan also cited the waste of taxpayer dollars to investigate homeschooling families who virtually always have the best interest of their children at heart. Making matters worse, the lawmakers involved in the assault did not even consult the home-education community. “It is very concerning that the population who is directly affected by this potential law has been excluded from the development of this proposal,” she said. “The lack of community input is quite alarming.”

Setting aside that children are at far greater risk in government schools, and the waste of tax money, and the violations of God-given rights, there is something even more insidious in this bill. Even the premise behind it is rotten to the core, not to mention dangerous. In short, it implies that children belong to the state, and that parents should be treated as suspicious junior partners in the raising of their own children — even when there is not a hint of suspicion of wrongdoing. Even federal agencies have referred to parents as “equal partners” in the raising of their own children.

Tyrants and evildoers have always used similar excuses to sideline parents and gain control of children for nefarious purposes. Indeed, just this week, the top “children’s rights” official at the United Nations “children” agency UNICEF, which also works to attack parental rights, was sentenced to prison for raping a 12-year-old boy — a vile assault described as the “tip of the iceberg.” More often than not, those who seek to undermine parental authority and parental rights have nefarious intentions, as parents practically always have the best interests of their children at heart. Such tyrants should be considered suspicious by nature. And they must be opposed with urgency and firmness.

Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. He can be reached at anewman@thenewamerican.comFollow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU or on Facebook.

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