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Guess who wins?

I get regular, if bleak, updates on the political goings-on in Virginia thanks to some relatives living there. But this one (hat tip to Butterflies & Wheels for their article on the Virginia Taliban) I may have picked up on this before the relatives.

Children who have been kept out of public school for religious reasons are not required to actually get an education; their families don't have to prove they are educating their kids at all, in the name of religious freedom from state supervision. Good luck, kids!

The Washington Post cites an increasing number of families are choosing this exemption, and the numbers are already up in the thousands.

Nearly 7,000 Virginia children whose families have opted to keep them out of public school for religious reasons are not required to get an education, the only children in the country who do not have to prove they are being home-schooled or otherwise educated, according to a study.
Other states reportedly use home-schooling laws to require some demonstration of, well, an education taking place. Most in Virginia do, too, but not those taking the religious exemption. There are tens of thousands who home-school under law requiring some reportage and meet state standards. But apparently it's easy to take the religious exemption, and once done, school administrators rarely follow up on them. Given the state of public schooling budgets these days, I would not be surprised if educators in Virginia are too strapped for time and resources to even try to keep up.
Last year, there were 6,800 children granted a religious exemption in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Education. That’s in addition to the approximately 25,000 students who are home-schooled and whose parents, by law, are required to document that they are meeting state standards.

“We presume there is some kind of home instruction going on,” said Charles Pyle, a spokesman for the department, but “once a religious exemption is granted, there is no follow-up reporting.”

Ain't religion grand? Of course, there is no such exception based on political, philosophical or personal beliefs; only the religious have the ability to opt out of educating their kids. To me, though, it seems a (somewhat) logical conclusion of extremist religious doctrine, clashing with facts, science and feared government intrusion. It's the ultimate protection from unfortunate conflicts with the theory of evolution. Not to mention conservatives seeking to demolish public education in general. Removing the requirement for education itself -- an elegant, if extreme, solution.

Hopefully the families will be responsible enough to produce children that can still be productive members of society. Unless the law is changed, however, there is no way to ensure that outcome.

Originally posted to The Tytalan Way on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 10:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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