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School Choice
The Panopticon State, Homeschooling Edition

As part of an initiative to prevent future school shootings, the Connecticut state government is acquiring new and controversial powers that could permit it to significantly curtail parents’ right to homeschool. Some background: After the tragic 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, the state’s governor, Dannel P. Malloy, set up a committee to recommend changes to school security and other measures that could help prevent such horrifying crimes from occurring. The committee released an interim report in 2013 that called for obvious changes and created no stir.

But the latest report has added a new proposal. Because the shooter, Adam Lanza, was homeschooled during high school, the committee decided that children with “behavioral problems” who are homeschooled must be monitored much more closely by the state. Here’s the Connecticut Post with the substance of the proposal

Under the proposal, home-schooled children with behavioral and emotional disabilities would have to have individualized education plans approved by the special education director of the local public school district. Allowing for the continued home-schooling of such children would be predicated on the individualized plans and “adequate progress” documented in mandatory annual reports.

“Given the individuals involved in the tragedy that formed the basis of this commission, I think we have thought this issue out at some length and we believe it is very germane and that the actual facts leading up to this incident support the notion of the risk in not addressing social and emotional learning needs of children who may have significant needs in that area who are home-schooled,” said commissioner member Dr. Harold I. Schwartz, psychiatrist-in-chief at Hartford Hospital‘s Institute of Living.

Over at City Journal, Matthew Hennessey points out a few of the many troubling aspects of this proposal. Seizing upon this tragic incident to enact these regulations seems like the worst kind of opportunism, not only because, as Hennessey notes, Lanza attended public school for more years than he was home schooled, but also because Lanza’s situation was unique from first to last. More importantly, the category of “behavioral and emotional disabilities” is terrifyingly broad, and could easily come to include run-of-the-mill problems like ADHD. Given that every year we find new “behavioral disabilities” in need of “medical treatment,” this is a real risk.

Parents should have the freedom to homeschool—not least because homeschooling families represent at least an attempt to think outside the box of the blue model idea of industrial education. But even if homeschooling wasn’t a boon to parents rightfully frustrated with our often-dismal public ed, we’d still decry this sort of bureaucratic opportunism and overreach.

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  • qet

    Kevin Williamson has written pretty much the definitive criticism of this CT power grab. I would add only that the proposal bears a strong resemblance to a boot stamping on a human face, forever.

    • Andrew Allison

      Quasi-fascism, no less (the State supreme, the individual irrelevant, unless of course they dare to question the State, in which case, it’s boot-to-face).

    • Jagneel

      Yes. Kevin W. the Sean Hannity of the print media.
      It seems KW grew up Ayn Rand and talk radio.

      • Hermann Munster

        Brilliant analysis. You’ve certainly convinced me to quit reading Rand and listening to talk radio. In fact, your argument for Pickety’s slant is so compelling that I’m clicking over to Amazon right now to order a copy of Capital.

      • RickCaird

        Is it possible for you to be embarrassed at your nonsensical posts?

        Williamson is a trained economist, a topic that seems foreign to you. Here is something you might want to consider: “Is this income inequality a symptom of government intervention and manipulation rather than its own problem?”. What is the government doing that actually harms to poor and midle class?

        • Jagneel

          yes. Government should be just cutting taxes for the rich as it says in the Bible
          ‘Tax cuts for me; benefit cuts for thee’- 4:20 Paul (Ryan)

          • Stephen W. Houghton

            How about ending the fed? The Fed enriches bankers and increases the interest rate making long term investment less profitable. That is it undermines the pro social effects of the capitalist system.

            No it is more fun to make up shit like taxs cuts being in the bible. They are how ever in magna charta FYI

          • Jagneel

            Oh! Yes. Gold Standard.

  • Corlyss

    “Some background: After the tragic 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, the state’s governor, Dannel P. Malloy, set up a committee to recommend changes to school security and other measures that could help prevent such horrifying crimes from occurring.

    The modern administrative state trends toward tyranny, period. There is NO, repeat NO, way to prevent crazy people from taking their first bite for a whole catalog of reasons, ranging from cost to monitor everyone for everything, to the totally repugnant notion of monitoring everyone for everything. But that will not stop the frighteningly active, well-intentioned proponents of the modern administrative state from trying to do everything for everyone and to everyone. We know free will is a questionable concept in psychology, but there’s no reason to pretend that determinism should dictate public policy such as assuming that homeschooled kids are ticking paranoid bombs just waiting for the right trigger to go off. The fact that the governor has not rejected the report immediately should be enough on its own to defeat him in the coming election.

  • keith12345

    Homeschooling should be illegal, period.

    • Bistro


    • RickCaird

      Why? Too difficult to indoctrinate the students if you can’t force them to attend?

      • Jagneel

        indoctrinate with stupid ideas that man and chimpanzee had a common ancestor! The godless liberals call that a science.

        The radical left comes up with all kind of theories. Big Bang (I ain’t heard no big or small bang), Evolution, a ‘just a theory’ like ‘theory’ of gravitation.

        Don’t even get me started on Noneuclidean Geometry!

        I know and I ain’t stupid. I am bout to graduate from Glenn Beck Univ. (Diploma will be in the mail as soon as the check clears so said my professor who btw is also works as Janitor and security guard at the campus (behind the Car Cash lot) not like liberal professor ‘i only know history’ type.

        • Tom

          You have straw on your shirt. You might want to brush it off before going out in public.

    • Jagneel

      See you don’t understand. These megachurch going ‘real’ americans are born experts have had an extensive training in pedagogy, math, science (bible compatible only please) , history (Constitution was divinely inspired) , geography (Jesus is an american who lives in Mississippi), English (a language so perfect that the Gawd wrote his perfect book in), ..
      How dare the government interfere with parents rights. Next thing you will be saying parents should be required to treat their sick children with medicine based on evolutionary biology.
      Tyranny! Oppression!
      Government should just stick to protect us from ‘those people who vote wrong’.

      • keith12345

        I don’t even believe it is in society/children’s best interest that kidsbe raised by their biological parents throughout their childhood. I think children should be moved to a different home with different parents every couple of years.

        • Tom

          Yes! Foster care for everyone! What an absolutely brilliant idea! Within a few years, everyone will be dysfunctional! But the government will save them and make it allllllll better.

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