The news of Trevor and Christina Tutt, a Christian couple who fosters children and has been fighting in family court for the past few months, is all the rage on Facebook right now. I didn’t get the memo, because I don’t have a lot of religious friends – but people are pissed that these parents have had their foster children taken away because the state deemed their homeschooling practices insufficient.
Trevor and Christina Tutt of Dallas have several years of experience helping at-risk children through both CPS foster care and the ministry Safe Families. In addition to five biological children (three of whom are now grown and living outside their home), the Tutts have three adopted children and are in the process of adopting another child.
In September, local police contacted CPS after they found one of the Tutt’s children, an autistic 4-year-old, wandering lost, with his pants soiled, down the street. The Tutts claim that they were looking for the child, and just happened to make a wrong turn, enabling the officers to find them first. A local judge ordered the family’s seven children to be removed from the home.
According to Christian News Net, “government officials were allegedly displeased with the family’s homeschooling. THSC advises that the Tutts were informed that their children were not “properly educated” and were being “brainwashed” by their homeschooling parents.” Well, if you are being forced to learn a Christian curriculum, you are being brainwashed. But I guess separation of church and state doesn’t apply to Christian home schoolers who are willing to foster children with developmental disabilities. Is that the argument?
“The hearing quickly devolved into a relentless attack on this family’s religious beliefs, community service, and right to home school their children—with no legal basis at all,” Lambert reports. “CPS attorneys berated Mrs. Tutt for not using a ‘state-certified home school curriculum,’ in spite of the fact that there is no such thing in Texas. The guardian ad litem denigrated her for not submitting documentation of her home schooling to the state on a regular basis, including state-mandated tests. This, of course, is not only not required, but there is no way for someone to do so in Texas.”
There may not be a “state-certified home school curriculum” (which is very distrubing) but there are certain obligations a homeschooler must fulfill, as per the Texas State Law Requirements Regarding Home Schooling:
- The instruction must be bona fide (i.e., not a sham).
- The curriculum must be in visual form (e.g., books, workbooks, video monitor).
- The curriculum must include the five basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship.
Is it possible that the foster parents aren’t fulfilling these obligations? Apparently, after listening to hours of arguments during a hearing, a Texas judge believes that they aren’t.
“This case exemplifies the new attack against parental rights and home schooling in which a family court judge who has a low view of parental rights believes he/she has the authority to decide what is ‘in the best interest’ of the children in question,” he stated. “This is a grave new concern for families who are pursuing home schooling or some other decision for their children that society might find unorthodox.”
I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the state to step in. There was a 4-year-old child wandering – whose parents didn’t notice he was gone for a time. In terms of questioning a faith-based curriculum – methinks all the people who are up-in-arms about this would have no problem with it if the foster parents were Wiccan. Or Muslim. Or any other faith the Christian right may not understand.
I’m just not comfortable with the idea of foster parents ramming religion down the throats of their foster children. But maybe that’s just me.
(photo: Getty Images)