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Opinion: Parents cannot be allowed to use religious freedom to hide their abuse of children with home-schooling

Louise Turpin, left, and her husband David, right, are arraigned in court in Riverside County on Jan. 18.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: To remain viable, a democracy must ensure that its children are educated. The overarching goal of course is to produce healthy, knowledgeable, well-adjusted, productive adults.

Most public schools — and many home schools — perform this function well. But as the Turpin family’s travesty shows, the state has allowed home-schooling parents to scorn worthy educational objectives. (“After the Perris nightmare, it’s time to monitor home-schools more closely,” editorial, Jan. 18)

Why? Consider how most home schools tout faith-based instruction. The state too often abides unrestrained deference to religion, lest pious conservatives howl about 1st Amendment infringements.

No wonder the Turpins initially reported their home-schooling to be religious. What better way to avoid state inspectors’ scrutiny? The Turpin children’s tragic case should prompt state monitoring of home schools on a par with that mandated for public schools.

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Aaron Mills, Solana Beach, Calif.

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To the editor: Your editorial claims that lenient home-school regulations allowed David and Louise Turpin to allegedly abuse 13 children in their home. I am outraged by the horror the children endured — and by the rush to generalize home-schooling families as deserving of greater scrutiny.

I am the product of a home-school family, now a career military officer with an advanced graduate education. I am also a homeschooling dad.

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Home-schooling parents make great personal sacrifice to bear the financial and emotional cost of educating our children at home. We ask nothing of state resources, but only to be allowed the freedom to invest in our children.

The Turpins were not home-schooling parents. If the allegations against them are true, they are monsters who violated multiple laws and basic human dignity. Another regulation placed on actual home-schooling parents would not have stopped them.

Chase Spears, Owings, Md.

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To the editor: I’m saddened by yet another horror story about child enslavement.

Yes, California and other states must provide a safety net of inspections to prevent child neglect or worse. However, I disagree that home-schooling parents should not have to comply with state testing requirements.

I have two home-schooling parent friends who gladly submit to state testing requirements. I agree with them that these tests are tremendous diagnostic tools to measure the effectiveness of their instruction. They use these test data to show how much better their children are doing than those in the local public school.

They do not perceive those tests as a weapon to prove failure, but as a tool to make them better instructors of their children.

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Bob Bruesch, Rosemead

The writer is an inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.

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