A recent headline from a Savannah local paper proclaims, “Experts say homeschooling ripe for abuse; law changes considered after two Effingham children found buried.” What it doesn’t tell you, however, makes it clear the “experts” are being dishonest in blaming homeschooling, and there is an obvious agenda behind this biased reporting. A whole ream of exonerating facts has been available for weeks now, and yet this story chose to leave them out.
If implications made in the recent Savannah Morning News article are to be believed, two children in a home education program were murdered and buried by allegedly homeschooling parents because the State of Georgia does not provide enough oversight and regulation of homeschooling. The article implies the connection clearly and strongly. You’ll hear about how lawmakers from Effingham County are now promising to get involved . . . you know, for the safety of children.
What the article leaves out is that the role of homeschooling in the case is tangential at best. In fact, just the opposite is the case. A more detailed article from AJC.com makes clear that public school authorities knew about volatility and abuse in the home. Child services from two states had been called and investigated them during this time. Police had been called multiple times for disturbances and domestic abuse and assaults.
Here’s just a little bit of the startling background from the AJC:
The officer’s 2015 encounter with JR [a son and one of the victims] was just one of many times when authorities and other got close to the family without realizing something would go terribly wrong, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found.
Interviews with those who know the family, as well as public records obtained by the AJC, show the children endured a tumultuous home life from an early age. Police were summoned multiple times, responding to fights between the adults around them. Child welfare agencies in South Carolina and Georgia investigated. There were strange punishments — especially for JR. Some witness accounts of mistreatment for one reason or another went unreported to authorities.
The AJC reports detail cases of what it calls “violent chaos at home” following multiple partner-mothers, meddling live-in in-laws, domestic abuse, bruises, frightened children, government checks for a disabled child (the only one of three who lived). Then there were also fake bruises. In at least one case, one partner-mother feigned a black eye with makeup trying to get police to arrest the father. This latter instance ruined her credibility and halted police on cases in which there probably really had been abuse. And there was much more.
But homeschooling is the problem, right?
So now, ask yourself a question: why does the Savannah Morning News, and author/editor G. G. Rigsby, ignore all of this and instead attack homeschooling? Why create the false impressions? There is only one answer: this is a bias-driven agenda.
Rigsby went out of his way to go get a University of Georgia “expert” on education to inform us how little regulation of homeschooling there is in this state, probably expecting a gasp from unsuspecting readers. Granted, this is not the kind of nanny-state you find in New York, but it is still telling that the caveat the author includes to give a pretense of balance and fairness ends up taking more space than the complaint, because it lists all of the multiple regulations and rules we already do have.
Yet none of that was really the problem anyway. Even when the children were in public schools, what good did all the added regulation and “standards” and oversight do to prevent these murders?
What good did multiple police visits do to prevent them?
What good did multiple child services agency investigations do to prevent them?
What good did all the visits from all the officials with all of the knowledge of what was going on do to prevent these murders?
But instead of even considering the multiple authorities and regulators who were directly involved, yet failed, this author wants to blame and attack homeschooling, which had very little if anything to do with it.
But hey, you know, state lawmakers may be imposing more regulations because we allegedly need to “do something” because of this tragic incident.
How about instead of that, we do something even more obvious: how about we hold accountable the law enforcement agencies, the child services agencies, and public school authorities who knew something was not right, and yet let it alone anyway? How is punishing innocent homeschoolers going to help?
It won’t. It will only be giving State bureaucrats more of exactly what they want: power and control over people’s lives, and to stamp out the competition of freedom and the free market.
This is the same remedy the gun-grabbers always pose. When there is a gun crime, they want to punish all the innocent, law-abiding gun-owners. Except this is even worse. This is trying to punish homeschoolers for a crime not even really caused by homeschooling. That is more like trying to ban guns because someone robbed a convenience store with a baseball bat. It is totally insane reasoning.
A couple other things worth observing in this shameless, biased, and dishonest (because they knew better, and left out key facts anyway) attack on homeschoolers. First, note how the article makes sure to say, “there will be a lot of pushback if legislators try to make changes.” This is trying to steel the minds of statists and the uninformed against freedom-minded people. This tactic further exposes that this is agenda-driven. It is trying to inoculate readers against cries for freedom.
Second, note further what else is ignored. Where does the most violence, sexual assault, gun crime, drugs, bullying, and general crime occur in our education systems? (You get extra credit if you can think of two synonyms for “public” schools.) Did you know that one study of sexual assaults in public schools reveals that roughly 10 percent of children have experienced some form of it? Did you know that of these, 1 in 5 reports that it occurred with a teacher? You can understand why such studies are so rare.
When news outlets and editors like this one actually turn their sights on the place where the real problems are and do some real detailed investigation there, maybe we could take them more seriously. Until then, this failure only intensifies their glaring bias.
Rigsby and the Savannah Morning News ought to be ashamed, and readers should write to them and make sure they know they should be ashamed. And any politicians who caves to the pressure created from such dishonest reports should hear about it, too. They should know the voters do not want to be represented as cowards, dupes, or tyrants, and they will not stand for it when it’s time to do that job that voters do.
Dr. Joel McDurmon is the president of The American Vision, Inc., and the author of several books, including Restoring America One County at a Time, a project that begins with home and private education. See more about homeschooling and other biblically-grounded, freedom-minded resources for all areas of life on our website and store.