Sunday, March 16, 2008

Defining Objective Educational Standards in Protecting the Individual Rights of a Child

Thanks to two posts started on Armchair Intellectual, regarding Requiring Parents to Provide an Education for Their Child, I've been giving even more thought to the role of government in determining if a child is being educated.

Based on the premise that the government gets completely out of the business of administering education, some questions arise as to what form of monitoring or intervention the government should have to insure the child’s rights (to an education in this case) have not been violated by his parents. Should parents be responsible for the education of their children? Does this mean that children have a "right to an education" which surpasses their, or their parents' individual rights? Should the government be the arbiter of an objective standard by which to measure the parent’s efforts in educating his child? Is this a matter for the government, a matter of a parent’s individual rights vs. the individual rights of a child, or none of the above?

By the decision to have a child, and the nature of that child to be initially unable to live independently, parents must provide basic life support for that child, otherwise they are effectively violating his individual rights and they should be prosecuted for those violations. Rational self-interest extends to one’s children, and as such, man is uniquely equipped to help his children not merely live (basic food and shelter), but thrive toward adulthood by whatever means he sees fit. Once any type of government monitoring of the outcome of that means is institutionalized we are all guilty until proven innocent.

On its surface, the alternative suggestion that when physical abuse is present then an investigation of mental abuse (or lack of educating in this case) can be pursued, seems much like calling for a special case of “hate crimes”. It’s already a crime. There are criminal standards in place, as violation of individual rights (use of force, fraud) which certainly apply to children as individuals.

Is the farmer’s kid, who knows how to work in the field from the age of six and intimately observes the connections between the soil, seeds, water, work, and man but never learned the value of reading and writing as a child any worse than the lawyer’s kid who went to all the best schools, learned about man the pillager, man the blight, and to write eloquently about the misuse of man’s intellect to subjugate the species of the world? They are both instances of individuals. They are both entitled to exist as they are, and neither had his individual rights violated by his parents. Of course, I think the farmer is foolish to not better educate his child, as I think the lawyer is foolish to not better educate his child – but I am not the parent of either of these children, nor can I say that the existence of either will negatively impact the general Welfare of our county (no matter how much I would like to).

It takes a serious, concentrated, and constant effort to keep a child ignorant of the world around him. Happily, this applies to both children referenced above.

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