Jewish Journal

Judge orders Christian girl into public school

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 7, 2009 | 4:16 pm

I had a lot of friends growing up who were homeschooled. Some were well socialized, others weren’t; most were educated that way because their parents either disapproved with what public schools taught or with the environment it would put their children in.

I disagreed with both perspectives. But, as I’ve written before, there are plenty, particularly Christians, who think that homeschool is what’s best for their kids.

But now a New Hampshire judge has ordered a 10-year-old Christian girl out of homeschool and into the public education system because of her “vigorous defense of her religious beliefs.”

Yes, it’s an odd story. Here’s the news from the Washington Times:

According to court documents filed in Laconia, a small city in the central New Hampshire’s Belknap County, Amanda is a well-adjusted child whose parents were divorced in 1999.

The mother has primary physical custody of Amanda, whom she has home-schooled for several years in math, English, social studies, science, handwriting, spelling and the Bible.

The course load, except for the Bible study, is similar to what public students get and the mother’s home schooling has “more than kept up with the academic requirements of the [local] school system,” the judge’s statement said. The child also takes supplemental public school classes in art, Spanish, theater and physical education and is involved in extracurricular sports such as gymnastics, horseback riding, softball and basketball.

Her parents have been feuding for years over how she should be educated. The father tried to get Amanda removed from the mother’s tutelage in 2006, but another judge ruled against him. However, the court did appoint Janice McLaughlin as a guardian of the child’s legal interests.

The father continued to push for some changes in the way his daughter was educated.

“[Mr. Kurowski] believes that exposure to other points of view will decrease Amanda’s rigid adherence to her mother’s religious beliefs and increase her ability to get along with others and to function in a world which requires some element of independent thinking and tolerance for different points of view,” Judge Sadler’s ruling said.

The ruling quoted Mrs. McLaughlin as saying the child “appeared to reflect the mother’s rigidity on questions of faith.” The child would “be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior,” it added.

The ruling also said Amanda told a counselor she was distressed by her father’s refusal to accept her religious beliefs and that “his choice to spend eternity away from her proves that he does not love her as much as he says he does.”

According to the brief filed by the child’s mother, Mrs. McLaughlin dismissed critical evidence and key witnesses in the case because they were “connected to Christianity.”

When the mother tried to give the guardian material on home-schooling, Mrs. McLaughlin reportedly said: “I don’t want to hear it. It’s all Christian-based.”

Read the rest here.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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