Across the States
Resolution Urges Ratification of UN Treaty
In late May, at the request of Dr. Jessica Ritter, an assistant professor at Pacific University in Forest Grove, House Joint Memorial 23 was introduced in the Oregon legislature. This resolution urged Congress to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Dr. Ritter has spoken on the CRC several times and was responsible for introducing a similar resolution adopted by the Portland City Council.
Under the United States Constitution, ratified treaties become the supreme law of the land and, as such, would be enforced in our state and federal courts. This places the U.S. in a unique situation, different from all other nations that have ratified the CRC. In most other nations, the CRC is merely international pressure and is not as legally binding as it would be here in the U.S.
Among other things, the CRC would require every government agency to apply the “best interest of the child” doctrine to every situation involving children. Currently, this principal is generally only applied in cases of parents getting divorced, a minor seeking to be emancipated, or where the parents have been convicted of child abuse or neglect.
Under the CRC, the best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override virtually every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent’s decision. The CRC would also give a child the “right to be heard,” which would allow him to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.
While the CRC does not specifically address home education, it does give a child the “right to a specific quality of education.” In fact, a report requested by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools, and Families in England and released in June by Graham Badman recommends increasing the regulation of homeschooling families in England in order to comply with the CRC. (See Michael Farris’s response to the Badman Report for more information.)
At a June 28 public hearing on House Joint Memorial 23, OCEANetwork legislative liaison Rodger Williams testified against the bill. Only the sponsor spoke in favor of the measure. No work session was scheduled for the bill, and it died when the legislature closed. However, we will be closely monitoring this and similar bills in the future.
— by Thomas J. Schmidt