The president of the world’s premier homeschool advocacy organization is renewing a call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the rights of parents.
J. Michael Smith, in a commentary published in the Washington Times, warns that without such a plan, the state, not parents, could in the future decide what children read, who they associate with, what discipline is used or whether they attend church.
The danger he cites comes from the potential ratification by the United States of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Farris then noted the “need to explicitly define and protect parental rights in the text of the United States Constitution.” He cited a Sept. 12, 2006, decision by the European Court of Human Rights that affirmed Germany’s power to ban home education. He said:
While the decision noted that some nations in the European Union allow for homeschooling, and while Germany allows for private institutional education, the court made it clear that such allowances are a matter of legislative grace and not founded in principles of protected human rights. … The European court declared that the aim of their Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms includes “safeguarding pluralism in education which is essential for the preservation of the ‘democratic society.’ … In view of the power of the modern State, it is above all through State teaching that this aim must be realized. …”
Thus, Farris expressed, parents need the protection of a constitutional amendment.
Smith, in his new column, wrote, “Few dispute the vital role of parents in raising the next generation, but, regrettably, few recognize that the fundamental role of parents is under direct attack.”
He said the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child was approved by the Clinton administration in 1995, but has been stalled because of opposition in the Senate. However, it still could be ratified “since we do not know who will control the Congress and the presidency in the future,” Smith wrote.
“Many parents are completely unaware of the hazards lurking within the words of this treaty. Wrapped neatly within its positive phrases and child-focused language is a dangerous disregard for the vital role parents play in the lives of their children,” he said.
“By allowing the government to define and determine what is in the ‘best interests of the child,’ outside the context of abuse and neglect cases, the UNCRC in effect diminishes the parental role, replacing it with government supervision,” he said.
He said the ultimate solution is a constitutional amendment, and “to this end, the Home School Legal Defense Association is actively supporting ParentalRights.org.
He said that is a grass-roots movement to accomplish exactly that constitutional amendment.
“The safeguarding of parental rights is vital to the future of our nation because [the] role parents play in the lives of their children is one that no government official ever could replace,” he wrote.
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