The Whole ‘Sentencing My Ma To Jail’ Thing

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Gardai at the home of Monica O’Connor and Eddie O’Neill in Carlow yesterday morning before Ms O’Connor was arrested

Emmet John O’Connor, 19, is a son of mother-of-six Monica O’Connor and Eddie O’Neill, from Tullow in Co. Carlow.

Ms O’Connor was yesterday arrested and taken to Mountjoy Prison before being later released. Her arrest and brief imprisonment was on foot of a refusal to pay a fine related to home schooling.

Ms O’Connor and Mr O’Neill were fined €2,000 in June 2013, after they were both found guilty of failing to register two of their children for home schooling and assessment.

Emmet John write:

As most of you will be aware by now, my Mam was arrested this morning by the Gardai, and brought to Mountjoy Prison for ‘Failing to cause her kids to attend school’. If any of you have met any of my siblings, or my parents in fact, I’m sure you would agree that there is no education issue present there. I boast to have had the best experience, regarding my education, that I could possibly have had. That is not to say my education was, or is, better than anyone else’s, but for me it was perfect! 

To me, I think we were scapegoats for the NEWB, (or what is now the Child and Family Agency,) to frighten any potential Home-Edders into automatically assessing with the board rather than going through the same lengthy, draining, court proceedings that we were subject to.

The crux of the problem is this: Home Educators in this country are currently treated as though their kids are truants, hence the assessment process.

What we would like to see is a change in governmental policy, whereby some from of liaising body is set up between the CFA and Home Educators. This would comprise people who are experienced with regard to Home Ed. and some Home Educators themselves.

There would be no registration involved. All Home Educators would notify this body that they were home educating. Then this board could provide support, and possibly: funding for field trips, museum cards, or even scholarships to Home Educating kids, and treat them as a separate educational entity. 

In this way, if there were some issues with child welfare or educational requirements, the agency would be better informed than the governing bodies currently are, and then be able to take it to the CFA, who might then see the need to intervene. 

Because the system we have in place not only wastes its, already, limited resources persecuting people like my mother (who they have actually assessed, and approved, for the education of a foster-child we had living with us,) but they also don’t get to see any genuine truancy or welfare/education issues that are present in this country. 

The assessors don’t have to meet the kids; they don’t have to come into the home. They can meet either parent in a library, a hotel reception, a cafe, etc.

This means that the kids who are in danger, and who do require the actions of the Government, and possibly the intervention of the Gardai, could be sitting at home hungry while their mother/father signs the papers.

I think most will agree: this does not make sense!

In our case I am fully confident that the persecuting body did not suspect there to be any welfare or educational issue in our family. And yet they subjected us, (and themselves,) to over a year of court proceedings, which has done nothing but drain our resources, time, and energy, not to mention create worry, uncertainty, and fear, (in our family at any rate,) and that’s not to mention the whole ‘sentencing my Ma to jail’ thing.

I wrote this in the hope that those of you who were not aware of this case, might hear of it and spread the word, and those who already were aware, might gain some insight and understanding, as it is not very black and white. 

I feel I must say that I don’t believe for a second that the governmental bodies at work in this situation, those who worked in the NEWB, or CFA, are inherently bad, or nasty people. They are people: they get up everyday, have their ups and downs, most probably do their best to help out who they can when they can, but they are operating within a system that is inherently flawed in its design and management, and is wasting its resources, not to mention those of the lawyers, judges, and Gardai, persecuting the wrong people.

I’d also just like to make a big shout to Mum and my Dad, for being so brave and standing up for what they believe in.

And also to all who have given/offered support be it a text message a call, a prayer, I can’t adequately express how thankful we all are for the amazing kindness people have shown us over the past few months. From our closest friends, to people half the world away who we have never met it really means so much.

Peace and Love!

Emmet john O’Connor

Via Home Education Support Fund

Mother-of-six released after not paying fine for failing to register children for education process (RTE)

Pic: RTÉ

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127 thoughts on “The Whole ‘Sentencing My Ma To Jail’ Thing

  1. Kieran NYC

    Without assessment, for every case like these parents you could very well have an illiterate, abusive, brainwashed or feral disaster.

    And then people would be turning around in 20 years time asking how it could have happened. The State can’t just take people’s word for it that they’re good educators and not wackadoodles.

    By the way, I haven’t seen any valid argument against assessment, only “Well we’re fine and it’s (somehow) unconstitutional anyway”.

      1. bisted

        …during this fiasco yesterday i found myself thinking about a time recently when I was in a pub and there was a group of five lads in their mid-twenties sitting next to me. There was horse racing on TV and the lads decided to back horses in the bookies next door. I spent the next hour writing out betting slips for them as none could read or write……these guys were travellers….the authorities must not have been so diligent in their case.

        1. Llareggub

          Isn’t it amazing that the authorities honed in on and scapegoated a family who were clearly not neglecting their children and who also had twenty two foster children entrusted to their care. Beggars belief really.

          1. Rob_G

            If they had previously cared for 22 foster children, all the more reason to ensure that everything was above board.

          2. JLK

            I agree this is more reason to be zoning in on a family who are caring for other people’s children full time on behalf of the state. they need to ensure they are educated properly esp for when some of them may return to their own families and schools.

    1. will-billy

      i think he did talk to that point Kieran. what would you prefer, a full-body search?

      i agree though that some state supervention may be required to assess the risks of ferality or spread of infectious diseases. some of these folks do not believe in inoculation etc. and i do think that is a bit silly and unfair to both the child and to the public health

    2. dylad

      Hi is making the point that the system is flawed. People need to use a little common sense and respect in working with families.

    3. Mister Mister

      Mother wanted to be a martyr with her nonsense claims of bullying and her being jailed for wanting to home school her children.

      She must think the rest of us are idiots and weren’t schooled at all if she thinks we don’t know the actual reasons for her fine and ultimately her jailing.

        1. Mister Mister

          You know you made it in the on-line world when you get your own little stalker.

          {Waves at will-billy}

    1. will-billy

      i thought it was pretty well-worded actually but then am not a pedant. certainly articulated better than a lot of the tripe people post here

    2. Disgruntled Goat

      Prosecute, persecute. Unless that was an intentional implication that they are being discriminated against on race, religion or political beliefs…..

        1. Ultach

          He’s nineteen. Not bad for a critter who’s never been to skeule. Not bad for any nineteen year old wot got dragged through the murder machine in either of our two states. I work with postgrads who would struggle to reach a half of his literacy.

  2. Llareggub

    I listened to Monica and Niall on the radio yesterday. They kept saying, and John’s states above that; Home Educators in this country are currently treated as though their kids are truants, hence the assessment process. I don’t believe that to be true – were accusations of truancy levelled at the parents here? I am still not really sure why they were fined at all. The authorities appear not to have bothered to check up on their older kids education which is a mystery. Seem to be lots of blurred lines on this one.

    I do believe parents have a right to educate their children how ever they see fit and Monica and Niall seem to be doing an excellent job and seem dedicated and committed. I also believe they should be supported as John suggests in his letter and some cop on and sensitivity should be used when dealing with parents and this is I think is where the problem lies.

    1. Ahjayzis

      “I do believe parents have a right to educate their children how ever they see fit”

      I can never understand this point, it’s always said like it’s an affirmation of a universal good. You birthed them, you can twist them.

      Does that mean you’d have no objection to a Madrasa in place of a school, or strictly home-crafts only for the daughters and handywork for the sons?

      1. pedeyw

        Yep. parents/guardians have a duty of care for their children, they don’t own them. I’m a bit iffy about home schooling myself. It seems like a way to shut your kids off from the outside world, though I have nothing to base that on.

      2. Mark Dennehy

        What qualifications do you need to home-school your kids? I mean, if there are mandatory qualifications for teachers…

        (Otherwise, well, why not home-doctor someone? Can’t be that hard to remove an appendix, right?)

        1. Barry the Hatchet

          You don’t need any qualifications, although the guidelines imply that you must at least be literate and numerate. Still not sure how I feel about that..

        2. John E. Bravo

          It may be worth considering that having just numeracy and literacy and knowing how the child learns things might be equal to or even greater than one HDip spread across 30 kids.

  3. Mick

    “Without assessment, for every case like these parents you could very well have an illiterate, abusive, brainwashed or feral disaster.”

    You could very well have an illiterate, abusive, brainwashed or feral disaster in a ´normal´ family setting also as we have seen many times in the past. Although I do see the need for some sort of body overseeing it, but a fine and being sent to jail is NOT the answer. It´s just a typically Irish solution to yet another so called ´problem´ that they don´t know how to deal with and don´t want to put any time into dealing with.

    1. huppenstop

      Yes the treatment of this woman was heavy-handed and over the top, I agree. But I also wonder on what point of principle she refused to register two of her children as being educated at home. I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t do this. As Kieran points out above, ensuring the education of its citizens is the duty of the state. If a child is educated at home, then it is of course completely necessary that such children are registered as such with the Department of Education. I don’t think it is that much of an inconvenience and I don’t think it is contravening someone’s rights to require it. I also think there necessarily have to be consequences for failure to comply, and I doubt that the authorities resorted to arrest without first exhausting all other attempts at mediation. Your children aren’t your property and the state is completely right to take an interest in their education and well-being. We know all too well how badly things can go wrong when the state abrogates that responsibility, so to try to cast them in the role of meddling villains seems a bit self-serving.

      1. Llareggub

        That argument about neglected kids is getting a bit tired. Clearly there are kids who are being neglected and not getting a minimum standard of education. As Bisted points out, there are many travellers who do not get a basic education and there doesn’t seem to be any big hoo-ha about this.

        The way this case was handled seems to be about scapegoating and intimidating instilling fear into people who do actually care about their kids. The State again, pretending to care when they just want to control.

        1. huppenstop

          Maybe my wider point got lost. Why didn’t she register with the department? That’s the bit I don’t understand. On what point of principle did she refuse and does she think that the state should have no oversight of home educators? I don’t really understand your point. You say that on the one hand that there are children being failed by the system, then you say that this case is about scapegoating people who “scapegoating and intimidating instilling fear into people who do actually care” (a bit of a baseless assertion, in my view). But without any state oversight of the home education sector, how do you propose that anyone can attempt to separate the first group from the second?

          1. Llareggub

            As far as I’m aware (maybe Emmet John could clarify), you need to be assessed before you can actually register. Was part of their gripe with the actual assessment which is a very subjective?

            When kids are being home educated they learn at their own pace and don’t follow the state recommended curriculum (which is very narrow and relies on learning by rote and ramming information into kids for the sake of it). Home education is about letting the child develop and learn according to their own individual strengths and needs. Maybe the blunder heads who do the assessing don’t get this.

            I just wonder if the authorities would fine a traveller family for not registering their kids as I know for a fact so many travellers kids don’t attend school. There seems to be no consistency and no real regulation as far as I’m aware.

        2. Bobby

          I don’t see how it’s scapegoating at all. There’s a simple system for ensure kids are getting educated. They decided not follow this system. They were warned several times to follow the system and they still refused. They were fined as a means to force them to follow the system and they refused to pay the fine, so were held for contempt of court.

          All because they didn’t want give assurance that their children are getting an education? Something smells very fishy about this family. It doesn’t make sense to needlessly go through all that unless they were trying to make a statement.

          1. Llareggub

            “Something smells very fishy about this family”. That’s the sort of fear of the unknown and fear of people who are not conventional that makes me see red and is so endemic in Irish society. ‘Oh you know those weirdos who home educate must be witches or something kind of attitude’ is ridiculous and mean. ‘Let’s all play it safe and don’t rock the boat’ is the reason why we are such a repressed and oppressed nation.

          2. Nigel

            Well, look. Homeschooling is a broad church, heavily associated in America with right wing Christian fundamentalists but over here more with counter-culture types, some of whom have beliefs that veer close to a kind of fundamentalism, but most who just really dislike the school system. The latter are mostly quite happy to co-operate with the state, though it can be irksome, while the former may begrudge any and all interference and get into this kind of trouble because they believe they are standing up for ideals and freedom. I actually know quite a few homeschooled kids. They get out and about and experience a lot more of the world and life in general than I did at that age, and there’s a tight support network and a lot of resource sharing. Because of the nature of homeschooling they tend to be granted a lot of autonomy and nearly all of them have at some point made the choice to attend a school of their own volition, usually to do the Leaving Cert, but sometimes earlier. Some have more difficulty adjusting than others, but they all do exremely well, academically. I envy them, because done right, learning never becomes the joyless chore the educational system seems to insist on.

  4. Michael O'Sullivan

    The family quote article 42.2 of the constitution in support of their case – it gives the right for parents to home educate their kids.
    Article 42.3.2 however gives the state the right to ensure that all children receive a minimal standard of education. To vindicate that right they need to inspect.
    The family had an inspection for a kid they fostered and did not seem to find it oppressive.

  5. DP

    Parents may well have a ‘right’ to homeschool their kids, but more important is the child’s right to an education. All of this could have been avoided if the parents had just followed the process by which the state checks that the rights of children to an education are being supported. If it was done on an ad hoc basis ie Ah sure they were fine with an older kid, they must be grand so, then you leave room for other people to be allowed slip through the net, like that priest who the judge let off yesterday because he is a priest. We’ve been down the road of trusting “good” people to look after kids, and seen where that takes us. They should have filled in the forms however annoying and bureaucratic instead of fighting court cases that, if they won, could set a precedent that would protect child abusers as well as ‘reasonable’ people (though how reasonable if they are refusing to co-operate with a system that is there to protect their kids is a questionable).

      1. DP

        If the principle is parental rights then it reminds me of the case in Roscommon where a horrifically abusive family were supported by a very right-wing catholic campaigner (now dead) to stop their neglected, abused children being taken into care. It always seems to be very right-wing catholics who want to fight for parents rights – yes, family integrity is important but as the poster above said, parents don’t ‘own’ their kids. Home schooling used to be a hippy thing but increasingly (in the US and maybe now here?) it is associated with right-wing Christians. I’m just wondering if this is partly the motivation of this family – that their religious ideology is motivating both their home-schooling (their perfect right) and their resistance to the state ensuring their kids get a proper education at home.

        1. will-billy

          so why have education at all if god wants us all to not believe in him? that’s decided then.

          i totally share your concern in this regard. let’s not throw the infant baby jesus out with the holy water though

  6. Murtles

    The whole thing is a farce including the 5 day sentence which was actually a a couple of hours and a gargantuan waste of Garda time driving this lady to jail. This is a daily occurance in the revolving door system that is Mountjoy clogging up prison places with minor fine “criminals” while prison escaping cop killers get remission to free up spaces (that is the only reason for compulsory 25% remission for all prisoners – no room at the inn).

  7. Spaghetti Hoop

    The interviewing of Eddie O’Neill by George Hook yesterday on Newstalk is worth a listen. The home educator could not explain why he/they/the wife refused to pay the fine.

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        Thanks bob for grabbling the link which I neglected to do! Hook played it superbly yet fairly. My own view is that the couple were full of indignation about the State assessment and saw it only as a negative form of snooping. A case of blinkers on and not seeing the wider State objective and obligation.

      2. will-billy

        it’s a dumb question. why should he argue against intimidatory interlocutors? waste of time going on hookey anyway, which aside from his laudable focus on mental health issues, is a cesspool of reactionary conservatism

    1. Llareggub

      No,you are being ridiculous, that house does not look like a cult headquarters. That is horrible witch-hunting language.

  8. chicken

    I think there are different issues here:
    – I personally would not be a fan of home education – as most parents, while they went to school/university they are not trained teachers, and who knows if the children get a rounded education, on top of this, things are taught differently now, reading/writing/maths – they do not learn of “tables” of 1+1=2 etc. anymore
    – Also isn’t school also about the social aspect, how do home schooled kids learn to make friends? Surely they miss out on how to behave socially?
    – thirdly, the points mentioned about travellers, sorry but this is not the same thing at all, it is very difficult to trace traveller children attending schools as they will just tell you the kids have moved when the state goes looking for them and indeed their parents may also be difficult to track down.
    – Kids should go to school and if their parents think they need other education on top of this then do it after school.

    1. Mister Mister

      Point of clarification, the father is a teacher.

      Why he’s happy to work in a system which he deems not good enough for his own kids is a bit strange though.

        1. Mister Mister

          If he’s so principled, and aware of its ‘flaws’, flaws incidentally that hasn’t affected millions of us, why does he still do the job ?

          1. will-billy

            maybe he is the principal rather than principled?

            you are projecting a lot of atuff there quite frankly and it only reveals your own confused mindset

            in fact using your logic, cops, teachers, soldiers etc. who have a bone to pluck with alan shatter or whoever all ought to down tools forthwith?

            maybe he realises that what is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander?

          2. Mister Mister

            Taking your “Cops” as an example, those who are aware of the flaws within the system don’t decide to live by an alternative legal system outside of their jobs. And if they were ever offered the chance to do so, they’d fill in all the forms and dot the i’s and get on with it.

  9. Barry the Hatchet

    This young man is clearly a thoughtful and intelligent individual. I’m sorry that he ever had to witness the spectacle of his mother being taken away by the police. But he is fundamentally misguided. These people are not being persecuted.

    People have every right to educate their children at home. But (as hubbenstop and others have already pointed out) children are not possessions for parents to do with as they will; they are people who also have rights and to whom the State has a duty of care. The right of parents to home-school their children must be balanced against the right of the children to receive a decent education. It is eminently reasonable to demand that home-educators be registered with the State and be subject to some sort of assessment to ensure they are competent and capable of providing a decent standard of education.

    The point he makes about assessors not having to meet the kids is reasonable, but it sounds to me like an argument for the complete opposite of what he is seeking – a more onerous system of assessment. I can’t see how the system he proposes would fare any better than the current system in rooting out instances of extreme abuse. And while I support the right of home educators to be heard and catered for by the CFA, I cannot see the rationale behind creating this “liaising body” which sounds like nothing more than an unnecessary further level of bureaucracy.

    The bottom line is, these people refused to register (for reasons I still cannot really fathom). They were leveled with a fine. They refused to pay the fine. When someone refuses to pay a fine (note “refuses” and not “does not have the means”), the punishment is prison. This is pretty basic stuff. And, if you believe it’s unjustified, then a campaign to cease handing out prison sentences for non-violent offenders would be a better place to start than this bizarre crusade.

    1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

      Maith an fear! That’s what I would have liked to have said were I able to form any critical thought.

    2. will-billy

      lord almighty. a bizarre crusade you say? like that arsehole Rosa Parks getting on the bus? grow up ffs

      1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

        What? You’re comparing this to the Civil Rights movement in the States? Lord almighty indeed.

        1. will-billy

          haha i am comparing it in the abstract as a tactic to effect reform. you remain free of course to disagree with that point, if you are able?

          1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

            I’m not, I’m afraid. I’ll have to leave that to Barry the Hatchet. I’m good at repeating what other people say, not at creating my own thought processes.
            All thanks to the wonderful Irish education system, see.

      2. pedeyw

        No. Just no. This situation is not even comparable. In this case the state is attempting, however ham fistedly, to make sure every child gets a proper level of education. Rosa Parks was protesting government approved racism and segregation. The two are not even vaguely similar.

        1. will-billy

          i did not compare the situation, just the tactic. again you are free to argue from logic as opposed to from opinion, if you can

          1. pedeyw

            I was. You brought up civil disobedience as a tactic, all well and good, but used a deliberately emotionally charged example that has with no situational similarity. I merely stated why the two situations were unrelated.

          2. will-billy

            i did not compare the two situations. i compared the tactic. i noticed though that those with whom you disagree are ’emotionally charged’, a phrase pregnant with self-satisfied smugness.

      3. Barry the Hatchet

        Well.. That escalated quickly.

        I didn’t say anything about the legitimacy of civil disobedience as a means to effect change in a flawed (or, in the case of Rosa Parks, deeply discriminatory and oppressive) system. I said that, when you consider the facts I outlined above, this particular campaign is bizarre. You’ve made an awful lot of comments on this post, but you still haven’t said anything to convince me otherwise.

        1. will-billy

          well you used the word ‘crusade’ in fact. i would not dare to try and convince someone with such moral certainty for fear it might give offence.

        2. will-billy

          either a tactic is legitimate of principled non-conformance ( who decides, lord barry?) is effective or it isn’t?

          that’s your point isn’t it? it’s ‘legitimate’ only when you say so?

          as for the sweeping, patronising gibberish about feeling sorry for the lad seeing his mother going to jail, he doesn’t need your crocodile tears. rather get him involved in a public consultation process (not drag non-compliers through the courts) and publish the submissions and findings so that the legal imperatives poster O’sullivan mentioned above can be maintained in a transparent way.

          if after this process the legal process is the only remedy available then by all means jail perpetrators. but spare us the high horse that it’s ‘ for the children’.

          as others suggest i am happy to speculate this case was brought to intimidate other non-compliants. fine, under the law, but if some of the alleged perps are born-again nutjobs (as someone suggested above) then i want to see them all out in the open (where i can shoot them).

          1. Barry the Hatchet

            No, that’s quite clearly not my point. I haven’t made a single comment on the legitimacy of the tactic, I have given my opinion as to the legitimacy of the cause.

            Based on the facts available, what the O’Connors perceive as injustice does not in fact appear be an injustice at all. It appears to be the State quite properly seeking to vindicate the constitutional right of children to a decent education.

            If you disagree with this statement, that’s absolutely fine. I would love to hear a reasoned argument as to why this cause is legitimate. You can leave your petty insults out of it though, please.

          2. will-billy

            the O’connor’s contentions fall under two grounds:
            bunreacht does not say what a minimum standard of education is
            it does say that home education is lawful

            the o’connors say that the more recent legislation in the area of inspections etc. is thus unconstitutional

            you seem to be missing a substantive point

            if the recent law is unconstitutional it cannot be relied on. according to victoria white today if this family take a case to the supreme court they would win

            i wonder is that the reason why the state wants to intimidate and oppress them using jail rather than a more nuanced approach?

          3. Barry the Hatchet

            Also, your comment suggests that you think the constitutional imperatives mentioned in the post by Michael O’Sullivan are not being maintained in a transparent way (hence the need for a “public consultation”). The whole issue here is that the O’Connors (and indeed your good self) have utterly failed to explain HOW the current system is in any way opaque.

          4. Barry the Hatchet

            I’m not missing any point. The O’Connors have said nothing to show that this law is even remotely unjust or unconstitutional. The father has quite literally said the following: “I’ve a problem with being assessed for my constitutional right” but I agree that the State has a responsibility to ensure children are getting a minimum standard of education and State services should go ahead and step in “if we do something wrong”. That argument is total fupping nonsense. How is the State going to know parents are doing something wrong if it isn’t allowed to make any attempts to assess them?

            Victoria White’s article isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, because it bizarrely ignores Article 42.3.2, which explicitly requires that children receive “a certain minimum education”.

          5. will-billy

            aye. everyone who disagrees with you engages in ‘petty insults’ or has points of view who are not worth paper they are written on etc., i get it. will be hard to convince you alright.
            anyway, according to victoria the provision of bunreacht you mention does not say what those minimum standards are. pity. we may have to suffer your sanctimonious piffle and bluster a bit longer until a competent court rules on it.

  10. well

    They refused to be assessed. It’s impossible to say whether they’re adequately educating these children.

    1. will-billy

      compared to what? all the kids now working as hookers who have graduated through state-regulated direct provision?

      1. pedeyw

        Compared to kids going through the education system. I don’t think anyone believes the state is a flawless system but in this case it’s being attacked for actually bothering. Direct Provision is a terrible system but has very little to do with this, other than some poorly thought out regulation.

        1. will-billy

          compared to some kids going through the education system. if the education system has flaws and home schooling has flaws, how do you say which one is better?

          1. Alfred E. Neumann

            By not assessing them, obviously. That would be the most accurate way, and so efficient too. You can not assess from anywhere, and it’s practically free.

          2. pedeyw

            You don’t but at least one has a series of assessment criteria and a baseline. It’s not flawless but allowing kids to be home schooled without any kind of checking is just not a good idea. Most kids will be fine, but that is the case in any reasonable education system. It’s the minority who won’t be that the assessment is for and unfortunately you can’t do that without assessing all.

  11. Clampers Outside!

    That family was paid to foster those 22 kids. Assessment is absolutely essential, it’d be gross neglect not to, and doubly so when these people are PAID to raise kids. People don’t do fostering for free.
    Add to that, that they decide to educate them outside the government approved system. And that’s a second assessment requirement.

    This “ah sure, we’re alright” or “they’re all alright” does not excuse the assessment requirements… we know where that leads with kids in care. Assessments are necessary, end of!

    The young guy is right that the system is flawed. But, when he offered this I roared laughing “There would be no registration involved. All Home Educators would notify this body that they were home educating.”
    Reads like a system whereby participating “home edders” volunteer information on their kids status of schooling (or did I read that wrong?). Now… that would be neglectful.

    Add to that the fact that the father could not give one single explanation as to why the kids in his foster care should be seen as special cases and we’re straight into weirdo territory – Newstalk interview is posted above.
    I hope the family gets this behind them but that kids’ solutions are nonsense and relies on trust alone is absolutely not the way forward for the protection of children.

    My last point… the jail time. They went through courts and procedures for a year… they didn’t just pick them up and throw them in, the family dragged it out to the very last and couldn’t give one single reason why they should be treated differently.

    The system is not perfect, but the family are just as much to blame for dragging this out from what I heard from the father.

    1. bob

      I agree with most of this, but one thing that’s possibly worth clarifying:

      Based on my listening of the Hook interview they had no problem being assessed for the foster children that were home schooled, and the went through whatever the proper channels were/are. (I got the impression that most of the foster children went to normal school?) They just don’t feel like they should be assessed for their own children. They’re ours – none of your business…. that’s where I think they’re completely in the wrong, and I don’t think he had a logical defence.

        1. will-billy

          thanks for both your comments. i am particularly glad I do not have to listen to Hookey now as you guys did it for me. you made valid points Clampers but i yet contend that phrases like ‘weirdo territory’ are subjective,derogatory and unhelpful. try ‘ someone with whom I disagree’ next time ok? ;)

    2. pedeyw

      The moment around 15.00 in when his best defence against assessment is “eh, our children are not in vulnerable position” is the clincher for me. So assessment is bad because most parents will be okay, which is very flawed thinking.

      I’m going to assume the best of them here and say what I think they’re objecting to assessment before registration and also having to reassess for each child, but I don’t see the problem with either of those things. Assessment before registration just means that a parent or guardian can show their ability to teach.

      And now I have found myself more or less in agreement with George Hook which I don’t like.

  12. Mr. T.

    The State and people in general have a fear of anyone who is not entirely assimilated. They throw metaphorical rocks at them, like Amazonian tribes seeing a plane fly overhead for the first time.

    People fear what they don’t understand. And sometimes, rather than try to understand, they try to destroy.

    1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

      I think people understand what home schooling is. Nobody’s really denying their right to homeschool. People are just banging on about their wrongheadedness.

    2. Clampers Outside!

      Total claptrap.

      There’s no fear, there’s the desire for the prevention of potential harm. If this kid and his fathers ideas of having registration of a kid for home schooling as a ‘voluntary’ thing it wouldn’t be long before that system is abused…. and then the kids.

      Hell… sure let’s do away with all Garda screening of those who work with kids or any other type of state watch in other areas involving kids, and just take it all on good faith that they are all good people who work with kids like the young man suggests. Sure what could go wrong.

  13. geebag

    All she had to do was fill in a form and allow someone to call to the house every two years for a quick chat.

  14. Frilly Keane, Anyone?

    ‘Seems t’me that the O’Connor O’Neill family have taken exception to the State insisting on monitoring how they parent their own children.

    And if that’s the case then I agree with them.

    1. Michael O'Sullivan

      The issue was not to monitor their parenting, but their educational provision. I understand that in a case involving a child they fostered they were happy to follow the normal process of inspection and they had no issues about how it was carried out.

      1. will-billy

        their argument essentially is that under the law no one or entity can lawfully assess their ability to educate their kids at home. they may be right in which case i feel the law should be changed to make home educators have a positive duty to show minimum levels of competence

      2. will-billy

        forgot to add, they seem to draw a subtle distinction between their blood children and the others. according to the indo today john emmet who wrote this piece is in third year of a music honoura degree despite not having done his leaving cert. et

        1. will-billy

          and their other kids seem on the surface to be suffering no educational deficit either though one poor lad is a haemophiliac

  15. Mike

    Saw the family in Ireland AM this morning, a good interviewer would have taken them to task and made them look incredibly foolish, they really had no good answers for their stance on not complying with assessment.

    Am I correct in thinking had they filled in the required form this farce would never have happened?

  16. Emmet O'Connor

    Hi there, I’m Emmet, I’m the one who wrote the post above. I saw this thread and just thought I’d try and answer some of the questions that people had pertaining to the case.

    Our problem (or mine at least) is not with the state assessing the education of Home Education parents (I fully accept that every child has more of a right to an education than their parents right to decide how they are educated), but (as I stated in the post) with the processes involved. Firstly: The assessment currently in place does not provide the state with comprehensive evidence as to whether the educational provision of the parents is up to par.

    The state has assessed the educational provision of my parents. They have (twice) been in our home, they have assessed the provision for a foster child who was educated at home, they know my father has been a teacher for over twenty years, they are aware of the facts that my two older siblings and myself have all been through some form of higher education be it University or Further Ed.

    The issue is that they simply wants us to sign their form. I understand that many will shake their heads in amazement as to why my parents opted for jail as opposed to signing the form. The reason is that the NEWB tried to strong arm us into signing when we decided not to. They unlawfully enrolled two of my siblings (the ones to who the fine of ‘Failing to cause kids to attend school’ pertains to) in the local primary school. When they did not attend the school the NEWB then had grounds to send school attendance notices which resulted in the fine/imprisonment.

    My model of a liaising agency not only is better suited to root out potential truants, but to provide support to home educators which is, quite unfairly, non-existent in this country. Home educated kids have no scholarships specifically offered to them. Nor do home-educating parents receive any sort of financial aid or subsidies with regard to books, reading materials, laptops, etc.

    So my parents (and myself) disagree with how the current system deals with Home Education in general, we also disagree with the way our family was treated when their was no legitimate concern with either the welfare, nor the educational provision of any of our children.

    The current system has a policy of ‘Guilty until proven Innocent’, where we feel it should be the other way around. My model of a liaising body also fills this loophole and allows home-educating parents (not to mention the state) to get on with their duties and only requires the intervention of the state where there is a real need of it.

    So we disagree with the entire situation and chose not to simply, to use the common phrase, bend over to the state and stand up against a system that is years behind in dealing with Home Ed.

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