Trivium Pursuit

On Trying to Fix What Ain’t Broke

Parental control over education is a basic constitutional principle and a fundamental right. It can be protected by legislation, but it cannot be made to rest upon legislation, because if it rests upon legislation, it then ceases to be a fundamental right, and it becomes a special “right” granted by the state. If it is a special grant by the state, then it is also subject to the control of the state whenever the state – legislatively, administratively, or judicially – chooses. And it will so choose, for it has a compelling interest in ruling over its own creations – ironically, like parents ruling over their own children.

Once a principle is lost, it can be regained only by very costly means. We must not allow the fundamental right of parental control over education to be compromised in the sphere of private education. Instead, we must press upon other spheres their responsibility to recognize and protect this principle. We recognize that in other states this fundamental right was already largely crippled if not lost altogether in practice. As a means of relief, they sought legislation in order to allow homeschooling so that they could begin to move toward re-establishing this fundamental principle. We do not criticize them for what they had to do. But Illinois is not so. Private education in Illinois is free of government regulation, and we must not begin to surrender that fundamental freedom through any kind of legislation which permits it to exist – even if that legislation comes in the guise of “no regulations attached.” The mere permission itself is a regulation which transforms a right into a privilege. In other states they are fighting to attain what we already have. Let us not surrender our liberty for the mere appearance of legislative security. “He who surrenders liberty in the name of security will have neither.” (Benjamin Franklin)

We oppose any and all legislation which would separate home-based private education from brick-and-mortar-based private education, or which could be construed as granting to us the freedom to homeschool. The government can acknowledge our freedom, and it can guarantee to protect our freedom, but the moment it grants to us our fundamental rights, those rights then cease to be fundamental as far as they are concerned.

The problems which we have had in Illinois have come from public officials who have stepped beyond the boundaries of their own lawful authority. We are not going to fix anything by tearing down the gate and asking those public officials to come in and be our guardians. What we need to do is to set up more of our own watchdogs to guard the gate and to bark loud and to show their teeth when public officials trespass. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

The Lord has, by many curious means, preserved a rare and precious jewel here in Illinois, and we would do wrong to surrender it into the hands of those who would carve it up while offering to us cheap trinkets of security and a mess of legal pottage in its place. Instead, may this jewel become a seed which gives birth to liberty trees throughout this land.

Harvey Bluedorn

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