I’ve been following the Lisa Payne-Naeger homeschooling case for some time and did not meet or know of Naeger until after her legal battle began. This case is interesting to me not just because it showcases the absolute prejudice I see daily displayed against homeschooling, but because I’m shocked that what I perceive as sexism can still be rooted so deep in this, 2010.
Naeger and her husband were married for 20 years. He is an attorney with a well-paying job. When they met, she had an associate’s degree in graphic art that she obtained 20 years ago. (I don’t have to tell you how much the industry has changed since then.) She put her career aside to stay home, have this man’s children, and allow him to be the power attorney that he is. This decision ended up hurting her in the end.
They decided to homeschool their children from the get-go; the children loved it, thrived in the environment, and during the trial the court found them to be well-educated and well-adjusted. Naeger’s husband had no problem with the set-up until the divorce – because the home-education of the couple’s children, their preferred choice, meant that he might actually have to part with some of his cash in order to assist with its continuance.
The Examiner has a must-read background on Naeger’s case as well as meaning of the verdict,which was delivered on Monday.
As a result, the case became a battle over homeschooling in which Naeger’s children were run through the wringer. Instead of making the case ruling on homeschooling, Zerr decided to grant Naeger final say over the children’s education but absolve her husband of the financial responsibility what would assist with the education of his children. Naeger’s husband makes a lot of money, Naeger does not. It’s my view that she sacrificed herself to make her husband a success, to allow him to put in the hours he needed in order to get where he is, to raise and educate his children, and when he decided that he was finished being a family (as he filed and Naeger, I’m told, did not want the divorce) his obligation to it ended.
This case speaks to me just as much about homeschooling as it does about sexism and the construct of the family. We live in a society where PSA’s preach about the values of family and where women are told to spend more time with their children but our judicial system penalized it in this case.
It’s my opinion that Judge Rick Zerr exploited Naeger’s financial vulnerability as a way to punish her for homeschooling and set her up to fail while protecting her husband from his obligations. I find it sexist and wonder if we can expect continued “friendliness” from St. Charles County towards homeschoolers and women in the future.