CRC: The End of Homeschooling? (Or Worse?)
I picked this up earlier over on Daryl's site, and admittedly did not read it with much thought. As his title implied, this seemed like old news. I'd heard it somewhere before...perhaps from one of those many HSLDA newsletters. I'm still kind of wondering why everyone seems to be talking about it, other than the fact that WorldNetDaily posted a story today about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its possible effects on homeschooling.

President Clinton signed this treaty February 16, 1995, but it has never come before the Senate for ratification. As WorldNetDaily points out in its article, this has not stopped federal judges from appealing to its authority. Apparently the judge argued in the case outlined that most of the rest of the world had signed it, thus " should be considered a part of American jurisprudence." Just to state the obvious, might I add that we signed the thing? That seems to imply intent on the part of our governing officials to adhere to these points. I know we are not bound by a treaty until it is ratified by the Senate, but historically, it has been pretty much assumed that if our President signs a treaty, the Senate ratifies.

What is the problem (if any) with this particular treaty? Is it going to end homeschooling in America? It hasn't ended homeschooling in any nation that has signed and ratified it yet. In fact, many of the nations who support this most strongly, consider homeschooling an inaliable right. In August 2005, the Norwegian Education Minister proclaimed, "Homeschooling is a human right." Homeschoolers in Germany are pressuring the government to give them the same right to home educate that every other nation in the European Union has. They are even looking to appeal to the International Court of Human Rights in order to force Germany to allow homeschooling. I don't see anything in any reading of the treaty that would make homeschooling actually illegal...unless the child voiced a preferance for public school.

I have many problems with this particular treaty, however.

To begin with, the United States is a sovereign nation. The points outlined within this treaty are not of international concern with regards to our nation. Our Constitution gives our central government three powers: declare war, handle foreign affairs and print money. If we, by the principles of our founding, do not give such authority to our own central government, why on earth would we hand it over to an international authority?

Secondly, this is the United States. Granted, it is not a perfect nation. But we do not circumcise our little girls, turn a blind eye on honor killing or advertise our child sex rings to business travellers. Nor do we operate sweat shops staffed by minors and allow fathers to kill their children for converting to other faiths. I side with New Zealand,

Nothing in this Convention shall affect the right of the Government of New Zealand to continue to distinguish as it considers appropriate in its law and practices between persons according to the nature of their authority to be in New Zealand including but not limited to their entitlement to benefits and other protections described in the Convention, and the Government of New Zealand reserves the right to interpret and apply the Convention accordingly.

The Government of New Zealand considers that the rights of the child provides for in article 32 (1) are adequately protected by its existing law. It therefore reserves the right not ot legislate further or to take additional measures as may be envisaged in article 32 (2).

Finally, the language of the conference is vague and hopelessly ambiguous. It is open to wide interpretation. After almost every point, I can't help but think, 'ok...but what does that mean in practice?" They are general declaratives without anything objective or measurable. There is no hope of any sort of consistent interpretation.

My main question is, "Why?" Why did we sign this? Why would anyone think we need to apply this to ourselves? Why would we want to ratify this? I found one uncompelling reason. Not because the United States needs to protect its citizenry from evil despots and guarantee basic human rights to children. Not because we are particularly lacking in any of these fields. The main reason given was because if we do not, we cannot meddle with other nations. According to the Campaign for the US Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, :

The participation of the United States is also very important to help ensure that the world is living up to the standards stated in the Convention. Without U.S. ratification of the treaty, the U.S. government is excluded from participation in evaluating, monitoring and advising other nations.

In order for the United States to have a voice in setting, evaluating, and improving standards for children worldwide, ratification of the CRC is absolutely essential.

So we want to give up our sovereignty to an international body to regulate conditions that don't need regulating here so that we might meddle in the sovereignty of our neighbors?

I may tackle some of the individual points later, but I encourage all who are interested to read the document.

(photo: A boy in the Solomon Islands plays with his homemade truck. UN Photo #156318C

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