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).
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.