* Heather Duncan, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Posted July 28, 2009 at midnight
A crucial question will soon face parents if present United Nations initiatives gain acceptance in the United States: Who inherently has the right to educate your child, the state or the parent?
Barring a consti-tutional amendment, America could soon follow the path of several member nations that have already abdicated to the state the right of parents to choose the direction of their children’s educations.
How might our country’s founders have weighed in on this question? Could they have envisioned a time when the rights of parents to raise and educate their children would need protection under the law?
Dr. Erich Potter, Tennessee director of parentalrights.org, says no. “Parental rights are assumed but not implicit in the Constitution. It would not have occurred to anyone (at that time) to ask, ‘Should parents have the right to raise their children?’ ”
However, what might seem like a fundamental right is quickly losing ground around the world, and organizations such as parentalrights.org are trying to sound the alarm that the United States may be following suit.
Currently every state in the U.S. allows parents to homeschool, with differing guidelines; not so in other nations. Countries such as Germany have outlawed home education altogether and other countries have begun to limit these freedoms. Some U.S. lawmakers are worried that there is a growing threat to homeschooling in the U.S. because of preference for international law.
“There are even State Department lawyers who believe that international law trumps American law,” says Potter.
Then consider the recent announcement by U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice that our federal government will consider ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. This convention guarantees various rights for minor children, including “freedom of information” which includes the “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds … through any other media of the child’s choice.”
In speaking for the U.N., Geraldine Van Bueren at The University of London writes, “The Children’s Convention potentially protects the rights of the child who philosophically disagrees with the parents’ educational goals.”
Just last month, the Children’s Secretary of Great Britain accepted a report which referred to this article as justification for the forced registering of all 80,000 homeschoolers in the U.K. and the authority of government officials to enter the home of these families at any time to question the child alone regarding his or her education.
Because Article VI of the U.S. Constitution binds us to any international treaty we make, a Parental Rights Amendment to the Constitution is being introduced in Congress that will cancel out any treaty that would attempt to infringe upon the rights of parents to direct the upbringing and the education of their children.
For more information, go to www.parentalrights.
Heather Duncan is a homeschooling mother and freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.