Legality

My grumble

If you’re wondering why I haven’t blogged for a while, well, it’s because I’m in the thick of getting an exemption. (For my overseas readers – in New Zealand we have to apply to the local office of the Ministry of ‘Education’ for their gracious permission to bring up our own children. It’s pretty much a one-off thing, so they can be pretty grim about it.) My fourth child turned six yesterday, so I’m a criminal from now until we finally get the exemption, which is still far from certain. Oh well, what’s the difference. Everybody’s a criminal in the socialist paradise.

Here’s a choice quote from the nice lady at the Ministry: “As you will be aware the Ministry of Education is focussed on raising student achievement therefore we are continually looking for improvements to meet this goal.” The gall of it! The gall of it, when New Zealand has just fallen about nine places in the OECD ranking for student achievement. They’re quite right to want to raise achievement, of course – they could begin by using a bit more punctuation themselves – but they can’t seem to see past their failed methods and outdated ideas. It’s the same with all state social services: their motto is, “If it’s not working, do more of it.”

And they still insist that they have to do what they do in order to protect your child’s ‘right to an education’. The brazen shamelessness of it, when almost half the adult population is functionally illiterate. What will they say to the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who can’t read well enough to understand the instructions on a packet of aspirin? Has the Ministry protected their ‘right to an education’? Of course not. Nor can they do so, and nor can they protect my children’s.

We need to remember that the only power the state actually has is brute force. That is, they have power over you because they can tie you up or shoot you if you don’t do as they say. Such force is necessary to the legitimate tasks of civil government, such as executing justice and defending the country from foreign aggressors. But it is completely useless for many tasks. You can’t light a fire by brute force; you can’t bring a flower into bloom by brute force; you can’t educate a child by brute force. The government is utterly powerless to ensure education.

They’ve certainly been trying hard lately, with public dissatisfaction growing over the failures of state schools. A couple of years ago they introduced a draconian system of tracking student achievement – normal educators were spared this, thankfully – and not long ago the Prime Minister was vowing to get rid of bad teachers. You have to admire their persistence in beating their heads against a brick wall, I suppose. But no kind or degree of force will ever guarantee education.

Let me close by suggesting that we be fair in our criticism of the state schools. They’re failing because they can’t succeed. It’s really not their fault.jo 001

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4 thoughts on “My grumble

  1. I love your graphic there of the building with all the puncture holes. Did your little one do the holes or where you stabbing it while waiting on the phone with the ministry of education?

    What are the criteria by which they decide whether to give an exemption?

    I’m in Ontario, Canada, where there is absolutely no oversight. In many ways I’m glad of that, but I also have moments of doubt because I do hear stories of ex-homeschoolers saying their parents really did nothing for their education and that they wish someone had intervened. So I don’t know.

    • Yes, my little one – actually, he’s taller than I am – decided to experiment with adding bullet holes to his rather cursory sketch.
      To answer your question, the law states that the Ministry (which is responsible for enforcing school attendance) can grant an exemption if they are “satisfied” that the child “will be taught at least as regularly and well as in a registered school.” In other words, they are required to predict the future, based on information supplied by the applicant. All very hocus pocus.
      I won’t rave on in this comment, as I’ll probably write another post or two on this subject, but your other point is one that we often hear – if there was no oversight, some people would get no education. My response is the same – the government cannot and does not guarantee education. We have compulsory school attendance, truancy officers, a vast bureaucracy making endless regulations and enforcing endless procedures, petty officials making life a misery for everyone, and we still don’t have education. Almost half the adult population is functionally illiterate, and without literacy, what academic education can there be? The people who should intervene in bad situations are friends and family, in kindness and love. Love triumphs where force fails.
      Thanks for your interest and comments, they’ve given me more to say!! Maybe I’ll move to Ontario. :)

  2. You should have every right to homeschool your children. It’s crazy. I was wondering where you’ve been. I’m sorry to hear that you are fighting this fight. The idea of criminalizing it is absurd. They recognize that their system is a fail, but do not allow the parents to step in and make sure it’s not a fail.

    What a joke.

    So happy you have linked up with us.

    If you want to write for the carnival, we had to postpone it due to illness. It will happen next week The topic is schedules (or non schedules).

    Are you in?

    • You bet! I’m glad we’ve finally been able to do the linky, and I hope that the illness is now in the past.
      You live in Washington, don’t you? What sort of bureaucratic hassles do normal-educators encounter there? Maybe you should do that for a topic!
      Best wishes
      Tani

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