Minimal Compliance as a Freedom Principle

July 12, 2023

Minimal Compliance as a Freedom Principle
I live in a lovely state where homeschooling requires practically nothing of me- no reporting, no registering, no paperwork. And yet, our state education department encourages people to ‘register,’ and every year, hundreds of homeschoolers do. Every year on state homeschooling email lists there are arguments about it, where those who register unnnecessarily throw accusations about ‘pitching a fit’ or ‘making things worse’ or ‘calling attention to yourselves and bringing down more regulations on the rest of us” against those of us who do not go beyond what is actually written into the legal code.

If a government representative requests something that by law he has no authority to request (and, in some cases, the law has explicitly stated that he does not have that authority) is it ‘throwing a fit’ to expect that authority to confine himself to the areas to which the law confines him?

Does it matter, really, how small the issue seems to be, if he is stepping outside the law to request it? I would argue that this is how the government camel takes over your tent- by first making small, seemingly insignificant requests to begin with, so small it would seem churlish to refuse compliance. But standing for freedom is not churlishness.

It is not the piddly ‘requests’ our state dept’ of education makes that are at issue here- it is the law. Rather than accuse those who are obeying the law yet not complying of somehow causing things to get worse, I think those who allow government officials to demand more than the law requires ought to consider the dangerous results of acting as though we believe that representatives of the state do not have to confine themselves to those limitations placed upon them by the law.

We dismiss our legal protections when we too easily comply with requests that are actually outside their proper legal jurisdiction.

When people begin giving politicians *more* than the law requires, those politicians then look suspiciously at those who cherish their legal freedoms and are protective of them, and who expect politicians and educators to respect the laws as well. They will begin to reason that family a, b, and c have freely given up the right to privacy, the right to homeschool without government notification, and so if family d, e, and f won’t, it must be that they are obnoxious or have something to hide…. People who give away their freedoms are far more dangerous to homeschooling than those who protect them. Those of you who give away your freedoms so easily are the Esaus of homeschooling- you are trading your birthright of freedom and liberty for a mess of pottage.

Think of it this way- we in this country have a right to keep our homes free of illegal search and seizure= the police may not enter without due cause and legal authority (search warrants)- and if we stand on that right and refuse to permit police entry without search warrants, then we are NOT doing anything wrong or suspicious.

If my neighbor wishes to permit police officers to come in without a warrant on the grounds that ‘he has nothing to hide,’ and on the presumption of expecting the police to obey the law is going to make them suspicious, then that neighbor does not value his constitutional freedoms enough- and he may lose them.

I value my constitutional freedoms. I value my right to homeschool without interference. I do not need the government do to *anything* except leave me alone. I do not think it is helping homeschooling to go beyond the law and give up freedoms, even if that freedom is so seemingly small as to keep my attendance records to myself.

Whenever a government official asks you to do more than the law requires, you should be looking at the bigger picture and the longer view.

I believe each state already has a law protecting homeschooling. It’s in the Constitution and the amendments. We are protected against llegal entry, search and seizure, and our freedom to exercise our religion is also protected there. We are protected against government intervention in our homes and families without due cause- and I think that covers homeschooling, IMO.

Think about the food we cook in our homes and kitchens. Somebody selling food to the public must have a test kitchen, must comply with government rules and regulations that we do not. It would make just as much sense for the government to come into our homes and ask for a record of how many meals we served this month as it would for them to ask for my attendance records. The government cannot come into my home, inspect it, test my food, and oversee my grocery shopping and ask how many meals we ate at home each day any more than they can come and ask nosy questions about our homeschooling- unless they have good cause for suspicion. The fact that we learn at home ought not to be any more suspicious than the fact that we eat at home, and the government has no legal authority to interfere in either.

Sooo, for these and other reasons I could go into at great length, I beg my patient readers to reconsider ever giving any information about your homeschool to the government if you do not legally *have* to. It seldom results in peace and good will that you think it will, and more often creates a hostile climate for *other* homeschoolers a little more zealous of constitutional freedom.

Incidentally, I originally wrote that some five or six years ago- and the example of the government inspecting my home kitchen seemed ludicrous at the time. But now it doesn’t seem that far off, does it?