By William D. Burt
Judging from President Obama’s remarks in Ireland (a trip that we overburdened taxpayers financed), it is perfectly obvious that he does not support the rights of parents to determine how their children are educated.
“If towns remain divided,” Obama announced, “if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that, too, encourages division. It discourages cooperation.”
His comment belies the present status of the Irish “Troubles,” which Christian Science Monitor correspondent Jason Walsh attributes mainly to the widening chasm between middle-class and working-class unionists. In other words, Protestants and Catholics per se are no longer the primary instigators of violent protests on the Emerald Isle. Somehow, President Obama overlooked that fact.
Obama’s misdirected remarks not only reveal his ignorance regarding European history and political affairs (as also evidenced by his outrageous “Polish death camps” statement at a 2012 White House awards ceremony) but also his oft-displayed prejudice against non-governmental and especially religiously oriented forms of education—though his own children attend the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. A recent and glaring example of this prejudice is the case of the Romeikes, a German family persecuted by the authorities simply for homeschooling their five children instead of sending them to a public school. The Romeikes sought and were granted asylum in the U.S., only to have that decision overturned on appeal in May by the Sixth Circuit Court at the instigation of Obama’s Justice Department, which argued that homeschooling is not a universal right. What right is more universal than the right of parents to educate their children as they see fit? Whatever happened to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”? As matters stand, if the Romeikes are ultimately deported back to Germany, they potentially face thousands of dollars in fines, possible jail time and very likely the loss of their children to state custody.
Ironically, Obama’s own mother homeschooled him while they were living in Indonesia because the family could not afford private school tuition. Today, the president effusively trumpets “a woman’s right to choose,” yet when it comes to educational choice, he evidently believes parents everywhere (except those residing in the White House) must knuckle under to the educational dictates of their respective governments in the name of “cooperation.”
You can’t have it both ways, Mr. President. Freedom of choice is freedom of choice. You cannot glibly offer women the option of aborting their pre-born babies while at the same time denying parents the right to educate their children as they wish—be it via homeschooling, a Catholic school, a Protestant school or a charter school. The Federal government has absolutely no business intervening in such personal decisions.
Liberals often like to demand that lawmakers stay out of people’s bedrooms (though now taxpayers are expected to pay for others’ contraceptives through insurance exchanges). I suggest in return that government should stay out of our classrooms—whatever form they may take.
William D. Burt is the author of the “King of the Trees” Christian fantasy series, which consists of seven titles to date. As an Assistant Professor in the Special Education Department at Western Oregon University, he served as a successful grant-writer and program coordinator. Burt holds a B.S. in English from Lewis and Clark College and an M.S. from Western Oregon University in Deaf Education. In addition to writing books, he works as an RID-certified American Sign Language interpreter with over thirty years’ experience. His interests include reading, foreign languages and mycology. He is married with two grown children.