Home Schooling Family Claim State Harassment.

In Blog, Culture, Politics by Rashers Tierney21 Comments

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With the Leaving Cert murder machine in full flow, teenagers across the country are engaged in coffee fuelled cramming sessions. Here’s an interesting mini-documentary on one antidote to the exam madness – home schooling.

It’s definitely not for every family, but the documentary gives a sharp insight to the process nonetheless.  Sadly, the O’Neill-O’Connor family from Tullow  featured in the piece are stuck in the middle of a nasty court case with the National Education Welfare Board at the moment. Yesterday was judgement day for them, after court concluded Monica O’Connor circulated a message to her supporters and friends:

“We were in court 10.30am – 5pm and were convicted of “failing to cause” Elva and Oran to attend school, fined €1,000 each with 180 days to pay. We have been offered help to appeal or seek judicial review so will explore our options.  It was wonderful to feel the support from people. Eddie did an amazing job representing us and cross-examining NEWB witnesses. When we shook hands with the NEWB team, their solicitor said he had missed a vocation in law!”

The family are sticking to their guns and disputing it on the basis that it’s diluting their constitutional rights to home educate. Monica had issued a statement explaining the background to the cause some while ago.

“Among our network of home educating families are many who are not registered. Some of them have welcomed NEWB assessors to their homes, to discuss their approach to home education and to meet their children, when these assessors were being trained, yet these families have not been followed up for assessment. We believe we are being harassed by a state agency which knows our children are not being neglected.”

In the mini-documentary, Eddie O’Neill, himself a secondary school teacher goes into his own educational philosophy.

“In many regards there’s a disconnect between young people and adults, in modern society and a lot of that is down to the opportunities that adults have to listen to children, and what’s driving them. In schools a lot of those opportunities are not there, they are neglected. The children listen to the adults and that’s really it.”

He critiques the exam system for exerting an undue mental pressure across those involved in education.

“Schools are stressed buildings, I’ve worked in one for a long time. Where as home educated children they want to learn. Where as I go round to schools and I ask sixth years how they are feeling and they are stressed and the words ‘terrified’ comes up a lot. For an exam. which may or may not give them a job, which may or may not give them a job that they like doing. Their parents are stressed. Their teachers are stressed and that seems to be okay.”

rabble just got off the phone with Eddie, he’s in good humour but obviously taken aback. I asked him if he could ascribe motivation for their harassment.

“What’s the motivation? We are mystified, it’s clearly written in the constitution. We don’t really understand the legal system, it’s confusing, either the constitution is the law of the land or it’s not. If someone can explain how we were convicted, we’d love to know. Six hours spent in court on a day like that. You’d be better off at the sea side.”

There are 6 children in the gang, aged from 26 to 5 years. All of whom were home schooled for their primary years. Two of the older boys did some secondary and sat the Leaving Cert. Their 17 year old is finishing the first year of a classical music degree in DIT having never sat the leaving. Another son is engaged in a two year FETAC Level 6 course in acting.

The family previously featured on RTE’s Meet The Family in 2005.

Comments

  1. Article 42.2
    Parents shall be free to provide this education in their homes or in private schools or in schools recognised or established by the State

    1. 42.2:….The State shall, however, as guardian of the common good, require in view of actual conditions that the children receive a certain minimum education, moral, intellectual and social.

      Here you go, you seem to have left out this bit. It’s kind of important!

  2. Pingback: Home School Education | Start Your Home School

  3. She kept citing her right to do this under the constitution and she’s absolutely correct. Neglected this part though : 42.2:….The State shall, however, as guardian of the common good, require in view of actual conditions that the children receive a certain minimum education, moral, intellectual and social.
    What’s so terrible about a biannual assessment of the quality of the education being provided?

  4. what’s your position on this? the constitution protects the right to home school but mandates that the state must ensure children receive a minimum standard of education. my understanding, is that the instrument the state has created to enable that protection is section 14 of the education welfare act. I cant access the video at the moment and will watch it later, but could you summarise their objection to the education welfare act? most info i can find online seems positive towards the NEWB so its hard to to understand the objection fom the text http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2000/en/act/pub/0022/sec0014.html#sec14

  5. I fail to see how anybody can support the stance of these people in breaking the law through sheer arrogance. Nobody is denying them their right to home school but in the interest of their children AND in the interest of fairness they need to register and allow assessment. That’s not unreasonable. What would be unreasonable is if we all just decided to pull our kids out of school and claim to home school them ourselves while refusing to allow any independent assessment of the education they are, in fact, getting. These people have an agenda of some sort and the ones suffering for it are their kids. They have Constitutional rights too.

  6. They violated their own children’s rights which raises the important question: are the children getting sufficiently educated? I believe families are entitled to male decisions for themselves but in this case the State was 100% right.

  7. Whoosh … I see that all went flying over your head entirely Joe Law. Never mind – you managed to get a totally different rant in. So I take it you don’t see any problem with any Tom Dick or Harriet ‘home schooling’ their kids unmonitored? Sure what harm if they’re spending all day on X box and not a Maths book eh?

  8. If it’s the same enoch burke then I think rabble need to dig a bit deeper into this families motives

  9. I’m fully in support of home schooling, but Mr burke has strong conservative views that wouldn’t normally align with rabble’s.

  10. It seems that the family wasn’t being stopped from homeschooling their children and that the main issue was over registration of the children. What I find quite insane about this is that somehow our laws deem the appropriate solution to this is jailing them for not paying a fine. This costs taxpayers and is hardly in the interest if the children (whose interests are what the purpose of this is surely? ). 2014 and that’s the most intelligent solution we’ve come up with it..ridiculous!

  11. You people won’t be happy till the state takes all your children into care because the state knows best. Anyone for a microchip? Guess what everybody the law is all made up, yeah mostly by a dead guy but you have convinced yourself that this is the way it has to be lol

  12. Jail is obviously a heavy handed solution but there is an issue here. If you were a truly caring parent, why would you object to the State keeping an eye on the home schooling of your children? Your children are not simply your property, such that you can do as you wish with them.

  13. Gaucho, you may be forgetting this, which comes hot on the heels of the bit you quoted:

    “The State shall, however, as guardian of the common good, require in view of actual conditions that the children receive a certain minimum education, moral, intellectual and social.”

    The idea that any State would overtly jettison children to the whims of any and all parents is, to be fair, ludicrous.

  14. Wtf is the problem if someone wants to educate their own children in their own homes. It’s not the States business. Why the hell ppl voted yes to this children’s referendum is anyone’s guess

  15. I fear this couples stand is too complex for some of the less intellectually challenged to grasp. They have no problem with assessment. They have a problem with ‘registration’ which as it’s structured could result in you being refused before you even start. Therefore it infringes on parental rights to educate your children yourself which is enshrined in our constitution. Also the current assessment only involves parents. The children aren’t spoken to or assessed so how is that safeguarding children’s rights? Do your homework lads, pardon the pun, before you rush to judgement. She is taking a principled stand on this for the benefit of others.

  16. “What’s the motivation? We are mystified, it’s clearly written in the constitution. We don’t really understand the legal system, it’s confusing, either the constitution is the law of the land or it’s not. If someone can explain how we were convicted, we’d love to know. Six hours spent in court on a day like that. You’d be better off at the sea side.”

    As has been mentioned from the constitution:
    “The State shall, however, as guardian of the common good, require in view of actual conditions that the children receive a certain minimum education, moral, intellectual and social.”

    This in practice means you registrar with the CFA so they can make sure your child is getting a minimum education

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