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Monday, March 10, 2008
CNS Ignores Full Homeschooling Story

A March 10 article by Randy Hall weighs on on the Phillip Long homeschooling ruling. Hall does take a stab at balance and reality that WorldNetDaily has thus far refused to do: He admits that it's "religious conservatives" who oppose the California court decision that ordered Long's children to attend a real school, and he actually attempts balance by exerpting an op-ed on the National Education Association website critical of homeschooling (though it apparently predates the Long decision). But Hall allows claims to go unchallenged and ignores the full story behind Long and his family.

Hall writes that "The family came to the attention of Los Angeles County social workers when one of the children claimed the father was physically abusive," adding, "The workers then learned that all eight children in the family were home-schooled, and an attorney representing the two youngest children asked the Juvenile Dependency Court to order that they be enrolled in public or private school to protect their well-being." Hall thus suggests that state officials thought that homeschooling was a form of physical abuse.

Hall leave out the fact (as we've pointed out) that the dependency court did, in fact, find that the father "has a long history of physically abusing the children and mother has a long history of not protecting them from father," adding, "[F]ather dominates mother and dominates the children who live at home. ... 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."

Also unmentioned by Hall was the fact that the court also described the education the children received at home as "lousy," "meager," and "bad," and found that the supervision by the Christian school with which the family was affiliated was minimal at best. The dependency court found the parents' home to be in "an endangering filthy, unsanitary and unsafe condition, and the minors were chronically filthy, and unsupervised late at night." 

Hall uncritically repeated Long's assertion that he has "sincerely held religious beliefs" which compels him to keep his children out of public school, ignoring that the court noted that "Over the years, the parents of the children have given various reasons for not sending the children to school," including that "educating children outside the home exposes them to 'snitches.'" One child testified that she "was not taught geography or history. Asked if she can add, subtract, multiply and divide, [she] stated she cannot."

Hall also mischaracterized the NEA op-ed he excerpted, claiming the author, Dave Arnold, asserted that "many home schools are run by 'well-meaning but gullible parents,' including those who educate their children according to their "religious convictions" and see home-schooling as the best way to combat our nation's 'ungodly' public schools. In fact, Arnold was focusing on organizations catering to homeschooling that are only looking to make a buck and the parents' refusal to do anything to improve public schools:

Another Web site asks for donations and posts newspaper articles pertaining to problems occurring in public schools.

It’s obvious to me that these organizations are in it for the money. They are involved in the education of children mostly in the hope of profiting at the hands of well-meaning but gullible parents.

This includes parents who home-school their children for reasons that may be linked to religious convictions. One Web site that I visited stated that the best way to combat our nation’s “ungodly” public schools was to remove students from them and teach them at home or at a Christian school.

I’m certainly not opposed to religious schools, or to anyone standing up for what they believe in. I admire anyone who has the strength to stand up against the majority. But in this case, pulling children out of a school is not the best way to fight the laws that govern our education system. No battle has ever been won by retreating!

Of course, CNS, being a conservative site that has been critical of public schools has an agenda here as well. This is perfectly illustrated by another March 10 article by Pete Winn, which uncritically repeats conservatives' attacks on a high school in Deerfield, Illinois, for purportedly offering "homosexual porn" by having the play "Angels in America" on a student reading list. The article is an example of CNS' sham balance, featuring only attacks on the school and a note at the end that school officials "did not respond to interview requests prior to press time."

Winn also uncritically repeats a statement by one critic that the school district previous "ordered 14-year-old freshmen to take a seminar that amounted to homosexual indoctrination." No supporting evidence is offered for the claim, and there's no description of what the purported "homosexual indoctrination" entailed.

We noted that when WorldNetDaily repeated this claim last year, it similarly offered no details of the purported "indoctrination" and  took its information only from a Concerned Women for America press release.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:43 PM EDT

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