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10/17/2003 1:46:43 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA sends letter to Presidents of CBS and Viacom

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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October 17, 2003

Dear HSLDA Member and friends:

Thank you to all who have, or will soon, make calls to CBS regarding
their recent stories concerning home education and child abuse. From
all indications, the response has been overwhelming. We have heard
reports of a phone number being changed, lots of busy signals, and
general anecdotals, all indicating to us that CBS and its parent
company, Viacom, are learning the lesson that reporting bias under
the guise of a news story will not go without notice. The following
is the text of a letter which I have sent to the Presidents of CBS
and Viacom. We will report in the future on any response. Thanks
again for your willingness to step forward and defend the right of
parents to educate their children at home without government
involvement.

J. Michael Smith


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TEXT OF LETTER TO PRESIDENTS OF CBS AND VIACOM

October 17, 2003

Dear [CBS and Viacom President]:

By way of introduction, I am the President of Home School Legal
Defense Association (HSLDA) and we represent 80,000 member families
nationwide. I'm writing to call your attention to the October 13 and
14 two-part story on the CBS Evening News by Vince Gonzales entitled
"A Dark Side to Home Schooling" and "Home Schooling Nightmares".
HSLDA has been involved in the legal issues of homeschooling for over
20 years. In that time, we've seen our share of negative journalism.
However, I can say without any doubt that this CBS story is the worst
journalistic attack on homeschooling that I have ever seen.

The message of the CBS report is that homeschoolers are child abusers
and homeschool so they can hide child abuse. These allegations are
untrue and demean the hundreds of thousands of homeschool families
across America. This is bad enough. But perhaps even more disturbing
is the way in which the report went about making its case.

Surely, you must see that it is unfair to take a few sensational
cases involving alleged homeschool families and imply that many other
homeschool families must be abusing their children as well. This is
especially true where, as in the sensational cases that were the
focus of the report, government officials had actually been involved
with each family at some point in time. If anything, the story should
have been that the tragedies occurred even under the scrutiny of
government officials. Moreover, no comparative statistics were
analyzed in regard to levels of child abuse in relation to the
children in public schools.

Also troubling is the conclusion of the report that homeschool
parents should be subject to mandatory background checks. This is
outrageous and should be offensive to all citizens as it smacks of
totalitarian governmental control, a concept Americans rejected long
ago.

One of the unfortunate consequences of this report is that some
people might actually believe it and use the anonymous tip procedures
available to report homeschool families for abuse and neglect without
any factual basis for doing so. Child Protective Services are
obligated to follow-up these reports and homeschool families will
face unwarranted harassment. This already happens all too frequently
to families all across America. More importantly, real abuse will be
missed because the system may be clogged with false reports.

In conclusion, it is obvious to us that the goal of the CBS story was
to plant the seed in the public's mind that there is a link between
home education and child abuse. This is unacceptable and it is an
outrage to the homeschool community as you have probably learned by
now. I appeal to your sense of justice and fair play to look into
this matter. I look forward to hearing from you in the very near
future.


Sincerely,

J. Michael Smith



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