Friday, 1 October 2010

New Legislation? Pick the Correct Target

The irritating mosquito-like buzz of the child protection industry is still around. Vested interests that grew fat on the state-inspired distrust of anyone who hadn't been approved by the state are attempting to keep the climate of fear and distrust going, despite initial signs from the new government that common sense might return in some measure. This is how they attempt to keep their funding. Fake charities that received huge government grants and spent on advertising about the same as they received in public donations. Consultants and advisers, paid to encourage more and more state interference in private life. The latest incarnation appears to be called early intervention. All delivered with a sinister edge to it, subtly reinforcing the belief that those who disagree are not thinking of the children.

This is the background against which is set the continual sniping at home educators, pushing for more state monitoring and control. Some local authorities, who were looking forward to Schedule 1 of the CSF Bill becoming law, are acting as if parts of it were indeed enacted, ignoring the fact that it was cast on the scrapheap where it belongs. "Changes are coming", we're told. "Just Say No", is a well-repeated response. However, this approach may be as effective as King Canute sitting on the beach. In some respects it is the correct answer; there is nothing wrong with education legislation, which is quite happy with the concept of educating children at home, or that the local authority need not be involved.

A better response, which will be much harder to orchestrate and achieve, is to deal with the situation described in the first paragraph. Home education sits in a river of vested interests and agendas, where all these boulders of suspicion and fear are being strewn, and it is inevitable that some will strike blows, always the risk of a really big one that will squash us. Changing education law, while it might remove us from the river, or at least shift us to a quiet backwater free from boulders, runs the risk of throwing us into the mainstream where there are more boulders, and certainly means that we'd be uprooted. It is much harder to dam or divert the river[*], but by doing so, the boulders will not reach us. We will still be in the same place, doing as we have done, but will no longer need to keep an eye out for these boulders and deflect them. So change the welfare legislation to stop putting everyone under suspicion, encourage people to become proper communities who can support and help each other without the need for everyone to be approved by the state.

Change the rules. Just make sure you're changing the correct rules.

[*] diverting is better than a dam because otherwise someone may one day breach the dam and we would be inundated and washed away.