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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Unruh Tells More About Homeschooling Case, But Still Misleads
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Gee, that was quick.

Six hours after we published what WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh wouldn't regarding a California family whose homeschooled students were ordered into a real school by a court, Unruh apparently went into panic mode and penned an article that includes more details of the story. But he still tries to spin the issue and whitewash the family.  

Unruh asserts that the ruling "is alarming because of the way the court opted to order those results." But the ruling is merely following the rule of law, that "enrollment and attendance in a public full-time day school is required by California law for minor children," with certain exceptions, none of which the family met in the eyes of the court. We thought conservatives like Unruh favored the rule of law.

Unruh makes a big deal of noting:

Specifically, the appeals court said, the trial court had found that "keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children's lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents' 'cloistered' setting."

But Unruh did not note what preceded that noation in the ruling: a statement that a previous court found "that the home schooling the children were receiving was 'lousy,' 'meager,' and 'bad.'"

Unruh then delves into details of what he called "unpublished court documents" in "a dependency case stemming from accusations of abuse that resulted from the parents' decision to impose discipline on their children with spankings."

First, the documents in the case have been published, at the AMPS blog, as has the appeals court ruling Unruh writes about. But even though those documents are publcly available, Unruh does not provide a link to them.

Second, while Unruh notes that the "unpublished" documents note "allegations that a family acquaintance molested one of the children as well as claims regarding physical punishment relating to one child's decision to disobey household rules about being out at night," which he declared were "disputed by different people involved," he fails to mention numerous other allegations of physical punishment and emotional abuse by the father detailed in the court documents; indeed, the court stated that "Father has a long history of  physically abusing the children and mother has a long history of not protecting them from father." Further, the documents state:

[T]he record contains substantial evidence, both from statements made by the children and from mother's own actions, that  father dominates mother and dominates the children who live at home, two of whom have repeatedly run away from home because, in  part, of the home rules father imposes. There is also substantial evidence that he has been difficult to work with in dependency  matters--evasive, uncooperative, and belligerent. There is evidence that these character traits of father's have been consistent over the  years that this family has been in dependency court. He will not permit the children to attend school. He will not permit them to  receive childhood vaccinations. He will not permit the girls to wear pants at home. He will not permit birth certificates. There is  evidence that mother does not interfere with his discipline of the children and his rules. There is evidence she does not make even  tentative decisions in dependency matters but rather defers issues until father can make decisions on them. Several of the children gave answers  [*75] to the social worker, forensic evaluator, and the court that have all the appearance of reflecting what the children were told to say or believed father would want them to say or not say. 

Additionally, Unruh fails to address one key issue: the atmosphere and quality of the homeschool education.

Unruh also writes that previous court rulings in the case had "affirmed the parents' right to homeschool their children." But Unruh ignores one statement in the dependency court documents, that "The court indicated it believed the parents have the legal right to home school their children assuming the home schooling education is appropriate" [emphasis ours]. Just as Unruh failed to note the court's statement that the education the children received was "lousy," "meager," and "bad," he ignores the description of said education as provided by one of the children:

Asked how much time she spent each day on being school at the parents' home, she stated "sometimes two hours. [*27] Sometimes half an hour. It depended on what homework it was." Only mother taught her, not father. She was provided with books. The books had reviews in them but not tests. Mother helped her with assignments if she  needed help. She could not recall mother being unable to help her. She would also ask [her sister] Charity but Charity "doesn't know it so she wasn't much help." Her subjects were citizenship, math, English and science. Once a year she took a test to see if she could pass to  another grade. The last test she took was at a church. The test was administered by Sunland Christian School and was a "test for that school." She passed the test but she did not remember her marks. During her schooling at home, her best subject was science and her worst was math. She was not taught geography or history. Asked if she can add, subtract, multiply and divide, Rachel stated she cannot. 

Is this the kind of "education" Unruh and WND really want to be defending?

Unruh noted the claim by the father, Phillip Long, that "the youngest children most recently had been working under an independent study program with Sunland Christian Academy," then added, "The court ruling, however, revealed a judicial dislike of that school, since the judges specifically ordered the children would not be allowed to participate in its programs." Unruh fails to mention that Sunland's supervision of the children's education was minimal, since the school's administrator admitted that "he makes visits to the parents' home about four times a year."

Unruh repeats the father's claim that "he objects to the pro-homosexual, pro-bisexual, pro-transgender agenda of California's public schools," even though the court noted that the father has offered varying reasons for keeping his children out of school, including that they "do not believe in the policies of the public school system," "religious beliefs," and because "educating children outside the home exposes them to 'snitches.'"

And, apparently because he can't help himself, Unruh unloads the Nazi smear once again, claiming the ruling has "echoes of similar ideas expressed by officials from Germany, where homeschooling has been outlawed since 1938 under a law adopted when Adolf Hitler decided he wanted the state, and no one else, to control the minds of the nation's youth." 

While Unruh does slightly better this time around, he still offers a biased, whitewashed view of the issue. Will he ever tell the full truth about this case? Don't count on it -- WND is too much of a homeschool cheerleader to ever tell its downside.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:20 PM EST

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