Tag Archives: Teddy’s Law

Homeschoolers in Ohio can keep their freedom

This article was submitted by guest contributor Joshua Johnson

Why I got involved in the debate against “Teddy’s Law”

I am raising my family in Cincinnati, Ohio. I vote like 60% of Americans. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a father of three girls, and my wife and I homeschool.

We can get into our reasons we decided to home school later, but I assure you our goal was not a conspiracy to shelter our children from our abusive discipline tactics.

Recently my wife, in passing, mentioned a bill that was proposed by an Ohio State Senator that would place a lot of additional requirements on homeschool families. Something she said about this particular bill caused greater alarm than usual and sent me on a mission to dig further.

It wasn’t the stated intent of the bill that concerned me, but the correlation derived from the tragic death of Teddy.

A Tragic Story of Evil

Theodore “Teddy” A. Foltz-Tedesco was brutally abused by his mother’s boyfriend for years. Authorities at Teddy’s school tried to get involved and multiple reports were filed with Children’s Services, but still nothing was done. When suspicions were rising at school, Teddy’s mother removed Teddy and his siblings from school and began “homeschooling”. This, of course, was the only way she could shield the abuse from the public.

In January, 2013 Teddy was murdered. His mother neglected to protect her child from an extremely abusive man, even enabled the abuse that resulted in her son’s death. Today Teddy’s mom and her boyfriend are serving prison sentences, rightfully spending the rest of their lives on earth paying the price for stealing a beautiful life from another human being.

Using liberty to steal liberty from others

Things like this should never happen! Children should feel safe, protected, and loved in their homes, more than anywhere else. Teddy’s mom and boyfriend stretched far beyond their rights as caretakers of Teddy and STOLE the same liberty granted to him under the law.

Unfortunately, Teddy’s mom used her freedom granted to parents by the Supreme Court of the United States in Pierce v Society of Sisters to hide her sins from neighbors and other authorities. This was the primary inspiration for Ohio’s State Senator Capri Cafaro to author SB 248.

Here’s what the bill proposed:

  1. Parents or guardians must ask permission from the state in order to home educate
  2. Background checks required on parents
  3. Private interviews required between children and child service representatives
  4. The state determines guidelines for approving requests for home school families

As an Ohio resident and U.S. citizen, I believe the precedent SB 248 would set for allowing this kind of government intrusion into the intimacy and privacy of our homes would have severe longterm repercussions beyond our comprehension.

As we see on both sides of the aisle in politics, Americans have a hard time keeping a level head in times of tragedy. We forget our values. We forget the Constitution, and we attempt to solve everything with new legislation.

Just a few examples:

Patriot Act after 9/11

The suspension of Habeas Corpus by President Lincoln during the Civil War

Japanese American internment during World War II

Whenever we experience horrific events it seems we attempt to control and contain the problem of human evil through laws that defy the very dignity we so loved before the tragedy. We easily hand over our liberty to the state in exchange for more security…so we think. In return we actually lose the liberty that affords the same potentially evil society the ability to also be good.

“They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Benjamin Franklin before the Pennsylvania Assembly

Some said SB 248 was the…

“Worst homeschool bill in U.S. history.”

As I said before, the Supreme Court ruled on parental rights in 1925. This was the primary foundation and precedent for other famous laws such as Roe v Wade. In this case, we’re seeking to protect the freedoms of families to lead and love their children as they see fit.

Pierce v Society of Sisters opinion:

Associate Justice James Clark McReynolds wrote the opinion of the Court. He stated that children were not “the mere creature[s] of the state” (268 U.S. 510, 535), and that, by its very nature, the traditional American understanding of the term liberty prevented the state from forcing students to accept instruction only from publicschools. He stated that this responsibility belonged to the child’s parents or guardians, and that the ability to make such a choice was a “liberty” protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Many believe it is worth defending the liberties of idiots even if we don’t like what they do with those same liberties. If they use their freedom to steal freedom from someone else, they will pay a price to society for that sin. In every society there are law breakers. There are those that try to extend their liberty beyond what is endowed by their creator–forgetting the rights and values of their neighbors.

Sen. Capri Cafaro later announced, “SB 248 was never meant to be a policy debate about educating children in the home,” Cafaro explained, “It was meant to address weaknesses in the law pertaining to child protection. Unfortunately, the true intent of the bill to curtail child abuse has been eclipsed by the issue of home schooling.”

After consultation with Teddy’s family, we have collectively decided the best course of action is for me to withdraw SB 248, and instead pursue a more comprehensive approach to address the current challenges in the state’s social service and criminal justice system,” Cafaro’s statement also said, according to EAGnews.

Thankfully this bill did not have a chance to set an unimaginable standard that would be difficult to undo. I am also grateful Teddy’s legacy can be cemented in finding solutions to the real problems surrounding his death without eliminating the freedoms of millions of good people who don’t take their liberty for granted.

In conclusion

It’s evident evil will always exist, and humans cannot be tamed to perfection by natural or legislative law. Therefore, let’s consider the possibility that MORE liberty, not less will ensure a good, brighter, and more hopeful future ahead. Stronger, healthier families could have led to different decisions by Shain (Tedd’y mother) and Zaryl (her boyfriend) that could have saved Teddy’s life.

Teddys Law Letter

Worst Homeschool Law In History Just Attempted

UPDATE:  Lawmaker backs down on “worst Homeschool bill in history”.  State Sen. Capri Cafaro released this statement Friday:

“SB 248 was never meant to be a policy debate about educating children in the home. It was meant to address weaknesses in the law pertaining to child protection. Unfortunately, the true intent of the bill to curtail child abuse has been eclipsed the by the issue of homeschooling.

After consultation with Teddy’s family, we have collectively decided the best course of action is for me to withdraw SB 248, and instead pursue a more comprehensive approach to address the current challenges in the state’s social service and criminal justice system.”

“It is our hope that this new focus will bring the discussion back to where it was always intended to be: protecting children. I am requesting field hearings to address the impact of current law, government agencies and nonprofit organizations on child welfare in Ohio.  I will not include any content related to education in the home in a new bill, or in any other bill.”

According to station WKBN  She said she will make a formal motion on the Senate floor when they return after Jan. 1.

To see our video about Teddy’s Law, watch:

 

A new bill has just been introduced in Ohio and it may be one of the most regressive bills in nation when it comes to the rights of homeschool famlies and parents.

It is called teddy’s law.

The backstory here, Teddy Foltz-Tedesco was 14 years-old when he was killed by his mother’s boyfriend Zaryl Bush.  Teddy was reportedly being abused for at least 3 years.  According to his father when teachers at school noticed signs of abuse and reported it, Teddy’s mother pulled him and his two siblings out of public school and began homeschooling them.  Ultimately, teddy died from severe head trauma in january of 2013, after undergoing years of methodical abuse.  His mother and her boyfriend are now serving prison time.

So now comes Teddy’s Law or SB 248.  A new bill introduced december 3rd in the Ohio Senate by State Senator Capri Cafaro.  So what does Teddy’s Law do?

According to Cafaro,  “The bill creates protocols for those applying to educate a child at home by creating a link between the local public service children agency, and the education system.”

So what are the specifics here?  Well, for one, Teddy’s Law takes the very unusual and unbelievably tragic case of Teddy Foltz-Tedesco and strips the rights of every homeschool family and parent in the state.

If passed, Teddy’s law would require background checks and interviews before the children are allowed to become a part of a homeschool or online program.  So before a parent is allowed to teach their own children, social workers have to deem you fit.

School and child service officials would be able to access a statewide data base to determine whether there are past or current abuse investigations against anyone in the child’s household.

If there are records of child abuse by anyone in the household or if the interviews elicit negative information, it must be passed on to the local superintendent or educational leader.

According to Cafaro, “Once a complaint is acknowledged and a negative recommendation is given, the new school would have to delay or deny the admission to the home or Internet-based school program.”

Of course local media is reporting the predictiable story.  The headlines… “Teddy’s Law Aims To Protect Children.”  “Teddy’s Law Would Battle Child Abuse”  But the part of the story the media isn’t telling you, that the death of Teddy, while heartbreaking is being mis-represented.

Why?  Because Teddy was already in a public school for years while he was undergoing abuse at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend and while his mother allowed it to go on.  Signs of abuse were seen by teachers, who reported it and it was Child Protective Services that left him in that home.

The question now being asked by groups like Homeschool Legal Defense, why did social workers who had the information in front of them not intervene in a serious way and enforce the already strong and existing child protection laws in Ohio?

State Senators pushing for this law will say, “if only we had known this kind of abuse was taking place Teddy could have been saved”  but the truth is social workers and teachers DID KNOW THAT TEDDY WAS BEING ABUSED AND THEY DIDN’T STOP IT FROM HAPPENING

That is the the reality that  homeschool families in Ohio and across the nation should be confronting lawmakers with.

We are setting up a special page for this issue. You can go to benswann.com/teddyslaw and there you will find the text of the bill and action steps that you can take.

 

You can contact the bill’s sponsors using the following contact information:
Senator Cafaro (Primary Sponsor)
1 Capitol Square, Ground Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-7182
Email: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/cafaro/contact
Senator Brown (Cosponsor)
1 Capitol Square, Ground Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-5204
Email: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/brown/contact
Senator Turner (Cosponsor)
1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-4583
Email: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/turner/contact
Senator Schiavoni (Cosponsor)
1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-8285
Email: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/schiavoni/contact

When you contact these offices be firm and polite. Although this law is misguided, it was drafted in response to a terrible tragedy, and we should keep Teddy’s family in our thoughts and prayers.

Home School Legal Defense Summary of Bill
Summary:
Senate Bill (SB) 248 was introduced on December 3, 2013, and would require children’s services to review all homeschool notices to determine whether homeschooling is “in the best interest of the child.” Under this proposed legislation, children’s services would be required to meet with parents who choose to homeschool and conduct separate in-person interviews with each of their children. Children’s services would then make a recommendation for or against the excuse from compulsory school attendance.

Children’s services would automatically be required to recommend against homeschooling if they determine it is not in the child’s “best interest” or if the family has any record of a child welfare investigation, regardless of the result of that investigation. If there is a recommendation against homeschooling, the superintendent would be ordered to delay excusing the children for homeschooling until the family participates in a CPS parenting “intervention.”

The effect of the bill would require children’s services to divert time and resources away from true child abuse investigations in order to review homeschool plans which they are neither prepared nor qualified to evaluate.

This bill is breathtaking in its attempt to impose unreasonable government intrusion on Ohio families. In responding to this ill-advised legislation, however, it is important to keep in mind the background that has led to this bill.

Children’s services would automatically be required to recommend against homeschooling if they determine it is not in the child’s “best interest” or if the family has any record of a child welfare investigation, regardless of the result of that investigation. If there is a recommendation against homeschooling, the superintendent would be ordered to delay excusing the children for homeschooling until the family participates in a CPS parenting “intervention.”

This bill would also require children’s services to divert time and resources away from true child abuse investigations in order to review homeschool plans which they are neither prepared nor qualified to evaluate.

 

You can sign the petition here:

http://www.change.org/petitions/ohio-state-senate-vote-no-to-ohio-senate-bill-248