The Fundamental Rights of Parents
- Scott Somerville, Esq. Executive Director, Center for the Original Intent of the Constitution
- 2001 6 Jun
Home schooling is legal in America today, but not because a majority of Americans believe it should be. Home schooling is legal because parents have a fundamental right to direct the education of their own children. This is true even when the state government wants to take that right away from them. With all our modern talk about diversity, it is sometimes easy to forget that America was not always so committed to this ideal.
Our nation supports the public school for the sole purpose of self-preservation. The assimilation and education of our foreign-born citizens in the principles of our government, the hopes and inspiration of our people, are best secured by and through attendance of all children in our public schools. We must now halt those coming to our country from forming groups, establishing schools, and thereby bringing up their children in an environment often antagonistic to the principles of our government. Mix the children of the foreign-born with the native-born, and the rich with the poor. Mix those with prejudices in the public school melting pot for a few years while their minds are plastic, and finally bring out the finished producta true American.
The measure passed, and private schools were outlawed in Oregon. A Roman Catholic parochial school went to court to defend their right to exist. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled:
The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.
Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925).
Private education was saved in 1925 because one private school stood up against the full power of the State and won. Home education exists today because thousands upon thousands of individual families stepped out in faith, relying upon that freedom. Individual battles over home education raged across America from the 1960s until the 1990s, but the war was really won in 1925.