Last week, Eagle Forum and Go, Stand, Speak Ministries attended a state Assembly meeting to speak out against a bill that prohibits families from homeschooling their children without government approval if they are under the supervision of the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS).
The bill, which was sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, states:
- “[A]ny child under the care, custody or supervision of the Division of Youth and Family Services in the Department of of Children and Families, including a child placed in a resource family home or in a kinship care home, shall not be homeschooled and shall be enrolled in a public or nonpublic school, unless the division approves the child’s homeschooling.”
While the bill was purportedly proposed as a measure to protect children in adverse situations, others are seeing it as being an encroachment upon the rights of families to homeschool their children.
Christian News Network recently asked Pat Necerato of Go, Stand, Speak Ministries about why he chose to stand against the measure and why he is troubled by its introduction into the state legislature.
“I believe this is an attack against parental rights, as well as a step to establishing as much legislation and control over homeschoolers,” Necerato explained, who has three young children that are taught at home. “I decided to speak out against it for a couple of reasons. One, the bill usurps parental rights. Two, to protect the right to homeschool, [as] the more written legislation for homeschoolers the more the word ‘homeschool’ must be defined, which could lead to more restrictions. Three, DYFS is supposed to protect children. Any law that mandates children be put into public school does not protect, but rather harms them.”
Necerato also stated that one of his main concerns was that many children would be forced to be indoctrinated in the ways of a paganistic society.
He spoke about this to legislators at the State House.
“Not only are we going to affect our — as homeschoolers — our right to practice our own religion, but when you take a child out of the homeschool situation and put him into a public school situation, we’re in fact imposing a religion upon that child,” he declared. “We’re imposing a very bad religion of secular humanism.”
Additionally, Necerato pointed to an “Indicators of School Crime and Safety” report released in 2011 by the United States Department of Education and the Department of Justice, which outlined that well over a million violent crimes are committed in public schools each year.
“DYFS is obviously an organization that [is supposed to] protect children,” he explained. “Yet, the alternative is to put them in a more dangerous situation.”
Carolee Adams of Eagle Forum preceded Necerato and explained that children could be forced into public school simply due to vengeful acquaintances who call Social Services to make a frivolous complaint against a family. She stated that if two neighbors were having an argument over a fence, and one of them decided to call DYFS out of spite, the children would be forced out of a homeschool environment and into the public schools against their parents’ will.
“With child abuse, you are guilty until proven innocent,” Adams said, who has been homeschooling since 1987. “If there’s an anonymous threat about DYFS being made against us, [we want to] be fully protected to continue to home educate until that situation is resolved.”
However, Assemblywoman Lampitt argued the matter from a different perspective.
“I’ve done a lot of work on mental health,” she explained. “I have to tell you for the next child that commits suicide, I take it to heart because I haven’t done enough or I didn’t do enough. So, it’s that one child [that I’m seeking to save with this legislation].”
While lawmakers state that they will make revisions to the bill to limit the measure to only children in custody of DFYS as opposed to those who are only being supervised, concerns still remain. However, Lampitt has agreed to speak with a nationally-known legal organization — the Homeschool Legal Defense Association — to discuss matters further.
Necerato says that he will continue to refute laws that are contrary to Scripture.
“I plan to speak out against any legislation that violates the rights of parents over their children and to be a prophetic voice against the state when they choose to arbitrarily rule by man’s law rather than God’s law,” he explained.