Taking a gander around blogs I see the debate over what has been dubbed Obamacare is hot and furious. One of the subjects that comes up among the more thoughtful bloggers and comments is the issue of subsidiarity and how Big Fat Nanny Statism massively undermines any hope of it.
This argument fits well into the situation of the CSF Bill (which hopefully will drown in the wash up) and home educating families.
But even if the Bill fails – no forced sex ed and no forced licensing of home ed parents- the chances are that whatever happens at the GE the next Govt already knows about us and mutterings of “they will have to register” are being heard.
So what form might registration take? Right now the system works like this. If you never send your children to school you can choose to register or not. If your children are removed from school you, the parent, are obliged to inform the school that you will now be home educating and the school inform the LA. If there are concerns as to why you removed the children the educational social worker might contact you, but for most of us, we await contact from the LA’s Education Welfare Officer (usually an ex-head of some school).
You can send in a philosophy and some explanation of how learning will take place or you can meet the EWO at a place suitable to you both.
We chose to meet the EWO in our home, which may have been naive but fortunately worked out well for us. The Government run LAs do not offer any practical support whatsoever. Individual EWOs with a genuine interest and some imagination might, like ours, offer things to help make life easier, such as a reference and cover note for the Learning Portfolio, but that’s it. This leaves many registered families wondering “What’s the point?”
Worse still, not only is there a marked lack of support there is often harassment and difficulties from LA staff.
So what is the point of registration exactly?
There is some idea that a new approach to registration would mean something like this: families register those children who are to be home educated and they can access, curricula, free computers, free exams and maybe even free or subsidised tuition for some subjects. A lot of people would be happy with this,
“We pay our taxes we should get this, it’s justice.” they might say. And they have a point.
However you then have to ask, what’s in it for the LAs and Govt? Do they get to dictate the kind of curricula, level of tuition, which exams…?
The principle of subsidiarity removes the overly bureaucratic and monetarily wasteful middle man (the LAs in this example) and says families and communities have an obligation to follow the golden rule of do as you would be done by.
So families need to make sure they care for one another and as communities form they take care of one another.
Also we are to take responsibility for our own lives and that often means looking at all the choices and cutting the cloth accordingly.
When a Govt tries to remove the obligation of care at the local level (usually through theft level taxes and unkeepable promises), it undermines everyone’s ability to access resources that they need. It leads to people really believing that they don’t need to do anything to help the other because it’s the Government’s job. Worse still there is a sense of entitlement that can grow with the Nanny State, where those who could try all sorts of ways of ensuring a reasonable and good education for their children wont do so becuause that’s the Government’s job now. Isn’t that why the appalling standard of sex ed is going through with far less of a fight than the home ed aspects of the CSF Bill?
Where is the parental outcry over the standards of education many of their children suffer?
Subsidiarity gives not just power to the people but hands back the responsibility to the people, to families and to communities. You see Cain’s question really was a stupid one- he knew very well he was his brother’s keeper.
I have blogged before on how “love thy neighbour” can mean the neighbour of your neighbourhood and family. I am increasingly bemused by people all too proud of the money they hand to huge Government funded charities, or pseudo-charities all too often, when they leave their own family and local people struggling and alone and wouldn’t dream of so much as offering to cook them a meal. Of course there is no need if it is now the job of the council and the Government is there?
If the sense of family as a unit that automatically cares for one another had not been so devastated in this culture by big government ideology perhaps Baroness Deech would not feel the need for her ill thought out speech about forcing children to care for their elderly parents H/T Lisa of Renegade Parent, You see if human dignity was respected and subsidiarity allowed and encouraged dear ol’Deech wouldn’t need to insist on forcing anyone, because families would naturally take care of each other-grandparents would care for grandchildren, adult children would care for elderly rels and the circle of life would go on. Being free to do what is right is better than being forced to do what the Government thinks is right (read cheap).
I do not have romantic notions of home educating communities springing up and creating a true Utopia. The author of that book lost his head remember. But I do think little pockets of genuine subsidiarity that works for all involved and maybe even spill out to those who aren’t is possible.
We can try at any rate.