UN Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Homeschool scare tactics

UN Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Homeschool scare tactics

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was voted down in Senate.

While I was deep in the final throes of my master's degree, I somehow missed that the Senate was going to be voting on this treaty. Then I heard that it was voted down. Why would anyone vote down a non-binding treaty?

Then I found out why. The homeschool lobby. And Rick Santorum, but mostly the homeschoolers, particularly those led by Michael Farris of HSLDA fame. Or infamy. However you prefer. They were fearmongering that the treaty, which included language that specifically forbade its use in court. But noooo, the homeschoolers were claiming that it was a direct assault on the family. You know, just like how gay marriage would destroy all hetero marriages and how gay couples were going to raise serial killer kids. And how any laws that attempt to regulate homeschooling, like some oversight from local or state departments of education, are all infringing on their rights to teach their kids however they wish.

I remember rallying against some sort of homeschool law in Nebraska, back when I was still heavily involved in homeschooling. I remember getting riled whenever HSLDA declared something to be a threat against our freedoms and sovereignty. I remember constantly defending homeschooling. In short, I know what it's like on the HSLDA side of things. And now I know it's fearmongering.

For kicks, take a skim through the list of countries who ratified/confirmed/accessioned the treaty. These are the other countries who have not, or not yet, formally ratified the treaty. Or if you like color coding assistance, try this list. The yellow ones are the ones who have signed but not ratified, like the US.

The homeschoolers have made us peers with these countries, by causing the defeat of the ratification. Humbling, isn't it?

So, what in this treaty is so dangerous? Let's take a look at the highlights.

Countries that join in the Convention engage themselves to develop and carry out policies, laws and administrative measures for securing the rights recognized in the Convention and abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination (Article 4).

Countries can develop their own policies and laws. Okay. No threat to America here.

Countries are to guarantee that persons with disabilities enjoy their inherent right to life on an equal basis with others (Article 10), ensure the equal rights and advancement of women and girls with disabilities (Article 6) and protect children with disabilities (Article 7).

Right to life, eh? You'd think the homeschoolers would be rallying FOR this treaty.

Children with disabilities shall have equal rights, shall not be separated from their parents against their will, except when the authorities determine that this is in the child’s best interests, and in no case shall be separated from their parents on the basis of a disability of either the child or the parents (Article 23).

It protects the right of families and parents while balancing it out with the rights of the disabled child. I think I see the problem here. Homeschoolers don't want children to have rights.

States are to ensure equal access to primary and secondary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning. Education is to employ the appropriate materials, techniques and forms of communication. Pupils with support needs are to receive support measures, and pupils who are blind, deaf and deaf-blind are to receive their education in the most appropriate modes of communication from teachers who are fluent in sign language and Braille. Education of persons with disabilities must foster their participation in society, their sense of dignity and self worth and the development of their personality, abilities and creativity (Article 24).

Ah, I see the other problem. Equal access to education. Education in modes that are most accessible to the blind and the deaf. That totally threatens homeschooling!!!11! /sarcasm/. Guess what? It's only a threat to homeschooling IF you let it be a threat to homeschooling. If parents teach their disabled kid in modes that are most accessible to them, provides their disabled child with equal education as their other children, they need not fear this treaty. Because, you know, isn't that what homeschooling is all about? Tailoring education to the specific needs of your child in ways that public and private schools can't, right?

Persons with disabilities have the right to the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. They are to receive the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health services as provided other persons, receive those health services needed because of their disabilities, and not to be discriminated against in the provision of health insurance (Article 25).

One word: Obamacare. I can see why they perceive this as a threat, since they falsely believe Obamacare to be a threat to their rights, too.

On the fundamental issue of accessibility (Article 9), the Convention requires countries to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers and ensure that persons with disabilities can access their environment, transportation, public facilities and services, and information and communications technologies.

This is the crux of the whole treaty. Wouldn't it be nice if the US could share their experience with the Americans with Disabilities Act with the other UN nation-members? That way we can make sure our interests and needs are incorporated into the world-wide discussion.

...on the other hand, considering the US is about 50 years behind the times, perhaps it's a good thing we're not trying to make other countries take steps backwards.

Filed under: Abuse, deaf, homeschool

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  • Every discussion of a treaty must begin with Article VI of the United States Constitution in mind. It provides, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” A ratified treaty is equal in status to the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes, immediately voiding any contrary state laws or constitutional provisions.
    In that the treaty condemns discrimination against disabled persons, it bears some similarity to U.S. laws. This similarity, however, cannot accurately be described as reflection. Rather, because of the legal status assigned to treaties by the Supremacy Clause in Article VI, every provision of the treaty that deals with the same subject matter as current American legislation will serve as a replacement. There are some parallels between American law and the UNCRPD but, to the extent that there are differences, the treaty would prevail. This is especially troubling since the UNCRPD provides no specific definition of “disability.” Without this crucial definition, it cannot be said with certainty exactly how broadly the treaty will apply.
    Article 7, Section 2 of the treaty requires that states ensure that “In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” The “best interest of the child” standard is one used in American family law. Under current law, however, only if a family is broken by a divorce or if a parent is convicted of neglect or abuse can the government substitute its view of what is best for the child for that of the parent. Parental rights are primary—the government’s judgment is only called upon when it becomes clear that parents are incapable of making decisions for the benefit of their children.
    n contrast, the UNCRPD enjoins states to ensure that all actions concerning disabled children are made on the basis of the child’s best interest. In order for states to live up to their treaty obligations, they must necessarily make judgments about children’s best interests continuously. Should the government’s assessment of the child’s best interests differ from that of the parents, the government gets to make the decision, not the parents.
    Providing for the disabled and protecting them from discrimination is a worthy goal that is accomplished admirably by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the Senate believes that more can and should be done for the disabled, then it should exercise its proper legislative function, not surrender parental liberty and American legislatures’ prerogative for domestic policy-making by signing a treaty which, by the Senate’s own finding, fails to accomplish anything which we have not accomplished on our own.

  • In reply to pdixon:

    Thank you for your insight.

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    If you were "heavily involved in homeschooling" then you know bloody well there isn't a "the homeschoolers". All of us aren't pearl-clutching dominionist religious loons like the HSLDA shills and writing as if we are does a huge disservice to those of us who aren't (and to those for whom homeschooling might be a wonderful option but who are repelled by characterizations of homeschoolers as a homogeneous right-wing mass.)

  • Oh, I know, but in the area where I grew up and homeschooled, homeschoolers like you were few and far between. The rest of them were fundie, fundie-lite, and Gothard-type homeschoolers, sadly enough. So, I was heavily involved in homeschooling, but it was not in Chicago. (I assume you're in Chicago-land.) And I know what you mean about people turned off of homeschooling because of these negative characterizations. Some people I know tried homeschooling but then were repelled by just how many of them didn't "believe" in science.

    So, I'm glad I riled you up. That's the point. People like you--you know, the sane, healthy parents who homeschool for all the right reasons and not for reasons of control and fear--need to speak up more. I speak from my experience, which was unfortunately of the pearl-clutching type. We, by which I mean the general public and us homeschoolers who were not so fortunate, need people like you to speak up more, to try to drown out the fear-mongering of HSLDA.

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    Wow, Holly. As a homeschooling mother, I am deeply offended by this article. Rick Santorum, and his extremist friends do not speak for me. You know, homeschooling is not only done by religious conservatives. There are many, many homeschooling families who are liberal or moderate, and we're smart enough not to believe this crap. Too bad you're not smart enough to know that homeschoolers come from all walks of life, and we do not all think alike.

  • In reply to Troy Brown:

    As crass as it may sound, I'm glad I offended you. As I told Cheryl, we need more moderate, liberal, and intelligent people like you to speak up and speak out more. We (as above, I mean "we" as in people like me who grew up in the conservative circles, and the general public) really need the (dare I say) sane homeschoolers to drown out the nutters like Michael Farris.

    Consider blogging (or if you have one, please share!). It would help me and others restore our faith in homeschooling as a viable alternative. I simply do not have any experience with and do not know much about support groups for anyone to the left of the conservatives.

  • As always, you've written an intelligent and brave piece.

  • In reply to Jenna Karvunidis:

    Thanks, Jenna <3

  • I agree with Jenna. And someone calling you stupid says a lot about them and what they're teaching they're kids.

  • Holly, what a great article! :)
    It made me laugh so much. Well done! Very good indeed.
    Well, after the appalling move from the extreme right wing Republicans to turn their backs on the disabled, this is what we need to do. We need to spell it out like you have done here. We need to show people that the UN treaty for the disabled is good and why we need it. And yes, we need it. Don't fool yourselves that the ADA is enough. It would be if it protected children in homes, in schools from abuse. We (my son's foundation) have cases on a weekly basis with parents reporting abuse that happens in schoolbuses, in the classrooms. The abuse reported even includes isolation and using electric shocks, handcuffing, verbal and physical abuse. So, believe me, we need this UN Treaty. If the constitution states that any treaty signed is the country's law as well- even better -because we need to protect all children wherever they are and no matter their abilities.
    So well done for doing this today. And guess what, no need to feel offended homeschoolers. She's talking about those who were using homeschooling as an excuse to oppose the UN Treaty.
    Personally, my kids go to public school because my husband wants them to have a social life. I then homeschool them because I know they will not get all help they need from the public system. I'm their enrichment class where we learn using other methods that does not include sitting the whole day on a seat writing. :)

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    It is sad that the larger picture here is not seen, or acknowledged. For at least 150 years there has been a conflict of ideologies that divide America, and the world.

    Here is the essence of the problem: "Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity."

    Look up the Humanist Manifesto III for the complete principles that guide the United Nations today, and has guided most nations around the world for 100 years, including the United States.

    Whether you agree with the manifesto or not, is not the point. The Christian Right does not agree with it, and exercises its democratic right to obstruct it whenever possible. The wording of the treaty is based on the above principles, and it is pushed upon most people without their consent or knowledge in one form or another.

    It is dishonest to call people "conservatives" because they oppose what is deemed "progressive" principles. It's "progress" is not proven, nor a fact. And what is conservative is not proven to be archaic or outdated. Quite the contrary, Classic Liberalism for which most "conservatives" adhere to is radically liberal to the extreme, in that it trust society, not the government, to manage most affairs, and deems that government, not only society, must be strictly bound by laws. While the Progressive element had adapted many Classic Liberal beliefs, the rest of them are contrary to Liberalism and democracy in their promotion of government authority as is demonstrated by Marxism and other ideologies.

    Please stop insulting Christians and their views. Holly, you clearly demonstrate that you neither understand, or have a firm grasp of the opposing ideologies, and the and the right and dignity of people to oppose them. It is demeaning to Christians to be regarded as backwards and socially challenged because they disagree with your personal opinions, or the ideology at large for which most Democrats believe in. While you should be commended for defending homeschooling, it is abysmal that you are unaware that the Left has sought, repeatedly, to regulate it more than anyone else.

    Education is the primary duty of parents. That is not an ideological statement, but a sociological and scientific one. If you trust in evolution and natural selection, then that should tell you that the people can be trusted to raise their own children, and have the final authority over their affairs ... not the UN, or the Church, or any other authority.

    I hope you will learn from this, and adjust your world view accordingly.

  • In reply to James Hatcher:

    Bahahaha....you sound exactly like someone from HSLDA! Oh wait...you weren't trolling? Well, forgive me for not being all offended at the idea of education regulations, because, quite frankly, it is a GOOD thing. Not every family is healthy for children. Not every parent makes sane decisions about education. And many families use homeschooling or faith as an excuse for abuse in any one of its myriad forms. The law is not perfect, but it is necessary for the well-being of the child. The well-being of children is FAR more important than parental rights, and so laws that seek to give a little more credence to children's needs is welcome.

    I find it funny that you think I was demeaning to Christians, because I'm Christian myself. It seems that you are drawing a false dichotomy between the AntiProgressives and those who are more progressive, and between Christians and The Left.

    Anyway. I only shared my opinions and fears as a Christian, as a progressive, and a member of the so-called Left. I think it's demeaning of you to think I'm insulting Christians as a whole. Really, I think it was a slap of reality when you read my post, and you found the idea of the existence of Christians who don't adhere to your particular brand of Christianity offensive.

    I hope you will learn from me and other "liberal" Christians, and adjust your worldview accordingly.

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    In reply to Holly:

    Holly, I don't even know what the HSLDA is. My children attend public schools, and quite good ones as well. I was indeed not trolling, but trying to make you aware of false assumptions that you have clearly made.

    Is the hostility necessary? I would think that civility would better serve your cause, would it not?

    I implied nothing of the sort that there should be no regulations. Society creates upon itself all sorts of necessary regulations. That is not to say that institutions such as governments are not also bound by regulations. Leftish thought tends to seek regulation of society, but not government. Leftist thought seems to distrust society in general, does it not? Thus, I am not a "Progressive" as I trust people to generally do the right thing, with minimal regulations. That makes me a Liberal, as it is defined.

    "Not every family is healthy for children," you say?

    Of course not. But the vast majority are. Why should the majority be punished or regulated needlessly because of the abuses of a few? That is not logical.

    "And many families use homeschooling or faith as an excuse for abuse in any one of its myriad forms," you say? Abuse by whose meaning? Abuse is a very relative idea, which has no universal standard. You are using "abuse" by your own "Progressive" ideals. Are you pushing your ideals upon Christians?

    "The law is not perfect, but it is necessary for the well-being of the child," you say? Then provide evidence for this assertion. No sociological or anthological evidence exists to support this. Laws are nothing more than society's means of setting standards and reminders of what the majority deems unhealthy to that society. The law is never perfect, nor does it need to be. History, which is the data from which we may easily draw many conclusions ... proves beyond the shadow of any doubt that the human species has sought the well-bring of offspring LONG BEFORE any laws existed at all.

    "The well-being of children is FAR more important than parental rights, and so laws that seek to give a little more credence to children's needs is welcome," you say? Why are you stating your opinions? This is a very strange argument, being that the well-being of children depends upon parental rights. They are not even rights, but the natural of all species that know what is best for their off-spring. This is a scientific fact that parents in general know what is best, or our species could not have progressed at all, nor any species. Are you asserting otherwise?

    "I find it funny that you think I was demeaning to Christians, because I'm Christian myself," you say? Well, by your tone, I was given the impression to the contrary. By your own admission you were being sarcastic, and showing some level of contempt for other Christians that disagreed with you. Whether you yourself are a Christian does not change this. Sarcasm is not a Christian virtue.

    "It seems that you are drawing a false dichotomy between the AntiProgressives and those who are more progressive, and between Christians and The Left," you say? Not at all. History speaks for itself, and the opposing ideologies are very ancient indeed, and universal in most cultures in history. Those that want change, and those that do not. Both desires are equally valid. However, I point out that you do not appear to consider those you disagree with having a valid point of view.

    To be continued ....

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    In reply to Holly:

    "I only shared my opinions and fears as a Christian, as a progressive, and a member of the so-called Left," you say? No, you are pushing your opinions as fact upon others. By your own post, you assume that the UN treaty is valid and should not be opposed, and demean those that oppose it.

    Nor can you be both a Christian and adhere to views that are distinctly anti-Christian. Christianity depends upon free will, and NOT being compelled, not even by God or Christ, to take action. GOd only offers consequences to wrong action, not the means to force us to do His will. The Left adheres to a belief that the State should compel society to act, or to do right action. Christ asks, of our own free will to be charitable. The Left demands that people be charitable by force. It is not possible to reconcile the two, and it is very insulting to we Christians that understand this. It is we are are demeaned, and loathed, and insulted every day by those that belief the State should compel society to do things it has done on its own far more efficiently, and by means of other institutions.

    No, Holly. It is I who have offered reality, and the proverbial slap in the face by calling you out on your very offensive, and very un-Christian views.

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    So that you may be further enlightened by other educated individuals, let me introduce you to one Stephanie Block.

    http://fratres.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/socialism-is-a-dirty-word-by-stephanie-block/

    She does a far better job of explaining why Christianity and Secular Humanism (socialism or other ideologies that insist on compulsion rather than trust) are opposing belief systems.

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