This past Thursday, I became aware of a very troubling bill being proposed in the state of Connecticut, which prompted me to write the post: Are “Mandatory Mental Health Assessments” for Children Coming to Connecticut? Upon reading it, a money manager in Connecticut who I have gotten to know over the years wrote me an email. I was so impressed by his passion and writing skills I asked him to compose a “Guest Post” for the site; something I rarely do. What follows are the impassioned words of a father, husband and concerned citizen. Enjoy.
Soon after my wife and I got married in 2008, a pregnancy prompted family members to ask us about our plans for educating our kids. The official response was one of uncertainty, but between the two of us we knew that we preferred homeschooling.
I suspect all parents have a line in the sand when it comes to public schools. The line gets crossed when the safety level, education quality, peer influences, or espoused morals and values of the local government school deteriorate to so base a level, that as parents you realize that sending your kids there would be tantamount to dereliction of duty, gross negligence, wholesale surrender, etc.
The line might be located in different places for different parents depending on their own values and the conviction with which their values are held, but all parents have a line. Both parents work? Can’t afford private school? Not qualified for homeschooling? It doesn’t matter, if the school down the road crossed the line you’d pull your kid out and you’d find a way to make it work. If you haven’t pulled your kid out yet, it just mean that the local school hasn’t crossed the line.
We live in CT and I am homeschooling my three boys because upon surveying the options, we decided to opt-out out of 10,000 “mandatory” things that get done to kids at government schools in exchange for a “free” education. Do it ourselves, we thought. If we threw a fraction of the money at lessons and tutors that other families throw at tuition, we’d have a fighting chance of doing an even better job than the private school alternative. And best of all, we would enjoy the liberty of doing it our way, watching our kids walk in the way of goodness and excellence, without being exasperated as we beat back all the menacing influences that foist themselves upon kids at government schools. In short, we would opt-out. Not for the sake of rebelling, but for the sake of still standing a chance at getting a taste of the pursuit of happiness that our present vestiges of liberty still permit.
No more. If CT gets their way, and Bill 374 becomes law, my family’s private pursuit of happiness will be allowed only if it wins the approval or disapproval of the State’s mental health inspection teams.
The justification of Bill 374 is innocent enough; pass this bill to allow the State to perform mental health evaluations on adolescents, so that the State can prevent another Sandy Hook tragedy by intervening in the lives of troubled adolescents before it’s too late. In reality, this bill lays the groundwork for much more.
First, note that Bill 374 does not exempt home-schooled children; in fact, it singles them out and specifically requires them too to get periodic evaluations and inspections. Parental consent is not determined to be relevant.
Second, this bill will require the State to measure and record your child’s level of compliance with State-sanctioned norms of behavior, thereby producing a body of evidence for intervention should non-compliance be found. For a glimpse of the present norms of behavior that the State finds acceptable, glance towards the very public schools from which you opted-out. It’s not comforting.
Third, these mental-health standards will evolve in ways that you cannot control, such that we have no assurance that just because present mental health guidelines are unobjectionable (an assumption with which I do not agree, by the way), the same cannot be said for all possible future mental health guidelines.
Fourth, this bill will meaningfully prevent the very pursuit of happiness toward which homeschooling families strive. In a free society, parents teach their kids in the ways of truth, goodness, and beauty, and instill those things which will lead their children toward noble ends. In a world with Bill 374 on the books, any sane parent will be filled with gloom as they will be forced to speak and act with a degree of surgical precision, so as to make sure that when the dreaded state mental-health evaluations arrive, their kids won’t be tricked into revealing evidence of a mentally-unhealthy home environment out of conformity with the best-practices of The State.
Presently homeschoolers watch from afar the gradual erosion of liberty and deletion of parental rights in the public schools. While it is tragic, they are mildly comforted knowing that they did the responsible thing and got their kids off the sinking ship a long time ago. If Bill 374 passes no opt-out will be permitted. The doctors of the State will periodically probe nearly every child-bearing household at unspecified levels of depth, regardless of consent. Readers should ask themselves: in what way could a home-schooled family properly pursue happiness in a world with Bill 374 on the books?
While nearly every child-bearing household will be subject to the probe, the bill did grant an exemption: if you go to a costly private school, the doctors may not probe.
To support homeschooling families in their effort to kill bill 374, please call or email as many members of the Public Health Committee as possible with this message or a similar message in your own words:
“Please vote against Proposed Bill 374, which would require behavioral health assessments for home-schooled children ages 12, 14, and 17 without any indication that they were needed. These comprehensive, invasive evaluations would constitute an unwarranted invasion of family privacy.”
Rep. David A. Scribner (R-107)
Email at http://cthousegop.com/contact-david-scribner/
Rep. Peter A. Tercyak (D-026)
Email here [email protected]
Rep. Patricia M. Widlitz (D-098)
Email at [email protected]
Rep. Melissa H. Ziobron (R-034)
Email at http://cthousegop.com/contact-melissa/
Rep. David Zoni (D-081)
Email at www.housedems.ct.gov/Zoni/