Homeschooling, Regulation and Civil Disobedience
By Beverley Paine, 1999
Increasing numbers of families are choosing home education and as a result state governments are responding by reviewing existing regulations and legal provisions. Many families, however, will chose to ignore whatever regulations are imposed. Some claim that regulatory authority or departmental regulations do not reflect the enacted Law in respect to home education, and imposition of these regulations is legally unenforceable. Others claim that governments have no jurisdiction over the education and rearing of their children, whilst others cite human rights conventions placing parents as having ultimate responsibility for the education of children within families, not governments.
In all states and territories it is clear that parents are increasingly choosing to operate outside of the law. Some parents claim that compliance with state regulations undermine their basic parental rights to educate their children at home. Others note that the very act of applying for permission to home educate indicate the state's right to regulate home education and impose restrictions on how children should be educated, and that in the event of any dispute, the parent has already acknowledged the state as a higher authority.
Many families are intimidated into complying with regulation simply through ignorance of alternative actions, both legal action and acts of civil disobedience. While possibly morally suspect, civil disobedience is a basic human right. Families choosing civil disobedience are simply choosing not to comply with laws and regulations they feel to be unlawful or immoral. Rather than acting against the law or regulation, they display 'inaction', choosing not to notify the authorities of their intention to home educate their children or register themselves as homeschools. Actions of 'inaction' and civil disobedience have often been validated throughout history in retrospect once the law was changed for the better.
The situation is further confused as each state has different education laws and regulations. In many states 'guidelines' are imposed as regulations although they don't have the same legal weight, and may not stand up in a court of law. Despite this authorities often resort to heavy handed intimidation in portraying these guidelines as legally binding documents.
Many home educators question the validity of government education department control and jurisdiction of home education, and would prefer the establishment of independent organisations in each state, separate from the authority that overseas public schools. The current situation in many states clearly shows a conflict of interest by governments whose primary function is the support and funding of public education in state schools.
Home educators argue that while the government's interest is in large scale trends and movements of people, homeschoolers' interests lie in only a few particular people.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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