Sometimes, evictions turn up surprising things. Other times, like the March 24 eviction of Detroit mother Michelle Blair, they turn up horrifying things.
The preferred methods of punishment the 35-year-old homeschooling mother exacted on her children included strangulation, forcing them to stand under scalding water until the burns peeled off, and making them drink window cleaner. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, she ended up killing two of her children: 13-year-old Stoni A. Blair and 9-year-old Stephen Berry.
The surviving daughter, 17-years-old, revealed the horrifying story to an agent of the Wayne County Juvenile Court. Since they were off-the-grid, like so many homeschooled children are, Michelle was able to get away with this. As a response, Democrat Stephanie Chang has sponsored a bill that would close that loophole — and as a result, the right-wing is on the warpath.
In a statement, Chang noted, “We all failed Stoni and Stephen because Michigan does not maintain a list of homeschooled children, and so we have no way to identify and then protect any child who could be at risk for abuse,” and would be sponsoring a bill that, “would require that a parent wanting to homeschool their child or children provide their names and ages, and the name and address of the parent, guardian or other person in a parental relation to the child or children to the superintendent of the school district in which they reside.”
The bill would also require “that at least twice a year, the homeschooled children are seen by a person from the following list: a physician, licensed social workers, physician’s assistant, friend of the court official, school counselor or teacher, audiologist, psychologist, law enforcement officer, marriage and family therapist, member of the clergy or regulated child care provider.”
It’s a start in the right direction, and is necessary to keep the years of abuse that had been heaped on Stoni, Stephen, and their older sister from happening to anyone else.
Because it is a step in the right direction, and it does use government to help people, you know what this means:
Instead, the new bill is a transparent attempt by some in Lansing to bully, threaten, and intimidate parents who choose not to send their children to traditional public schools. The legislation would force every homeschooling family to register with local officials and to open their homes twice yearly for police inspections, to prove that they have not murdered their own children.
Parents have rights. Parents deserve choices. And parents deserve so much better from Lansing.
As the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee I wanted to write you today to assure you that this anti-parent legislation will not see the light of day in my Committee.
That’s a press release from GOP Senator Phil Pavlov promising to defeat the bill. Notice he says nothing at all about the rights of children — just the rights of parents. In this case, the rights of parents to bully their children unregulated by the federal government.
But it gets better. Check out these responses that Chang has gotten on her Facebook page:
This one is particularly bad, since the language of the bill doesn’t say anything at all about police visitations to the home:
(2) In addition to the requirements of subsection (1), if a child is being educated at home, the child’s parent or legal guardian shall ensure that all of the following are met: (A) The child meets in person at least twice a year with a physician, licensed social worker, physician’s assistant, individual employed in a professional capacity in any office of the friend of the court, school counselor or teacher, audiologist, psychologist, law enforcement officer, marriage and family therapist, member of the clergy, or regulated child care provider. (B) The parent or legal guardian maintains and makes available upon request records of the meetings required under subdivision (A), including signed documentation from the individual meeting with the child.
And there’s more:
Stoni and Stephen were far from an isolated incident — there are many more stories just like them, all of them from the homeschool movement. But we have to protect the rights of parents — those rights matter more than anyone else’s.
And yes, this does remind me of the gun debate, why do you ask?
[h/t LJF; cover image Facebook]