Sunday, March 9, 2008

Homeschooling in California?

Personally, I'm not sure I'd ever homeschool my own children, but I do believe that our society should protect the right of parents to be the primary educators of their children.

We already knew that the Germans weren't big fans of allowing parents to homeschool. There, German police raided a home in order to seize a 15-year-old homeschooled girl and place her in state care because they determined she had a "phobia" of public schools.

Now, I'm not claiming that the situation in California is anything similar, but a recent ruling there has proven to be a major setback for the parents of 166,000 homeschooled students in that state.

"California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. "Parents have a legal duty to see to their children's schooling under the provisions of these laws."

Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.

"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare," the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.

It's a bit unsettling that the state of California doesn't trust parents to train their children "in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty"--much less homeschooling parents. It seems to me that if you go to the effort of developing a curriculum for your kids, and think it's important enough to keep them at home to educate them (maybe--shockingly enough--because you think you know your kids the best and might be able to educate them as whole persons better than any state-run institution ever could...) that you're going to do a pretty good job with it. Maybe some sort of minimal regulations and standardized testing would be in order, but to ban it altogether is a bit extreme.

During my time at ND I have met more formerly-homeschooled men and women than I ever had before. Apparently their parents did a good job raising not only intelligent but well-adjusted and spiritually-mature children. I guess the state of California just can't recognize that...

UPDATE: From Deal Hudson over at InsideCatholic, who's saying that there is no need to worry:

As a result, homeschoolers in California are not at risk under this ruling, although at first glance the language does indeed appear inflammatory. Under California law, parents who homeschool have created a "public school" where they have to be "capable of teaching" the required courses offered in public schools. Parents also have to keep a record of enrollment and attendance, as well as file a yearly "private school affidavit" with the state.

The Longs' case will undoubtedly be appealed, and following that appeal, whatever danger posed by the decision on homeschooling will be addressed. Perhaps this scare will provide opportunity and motivation for the homeschooling movement to push for legislation that will protect parents' right to educate from future rulings by activist judges.


Brandon said...

Next they'll go after the private schools, and bankrupt every local school district doing it. Then every child in California can suffer through the gross inequities of our education system. Yay California.

Seriously, when will the idiots who run our governments realize that more schools (including home-schooling) make our system better. Make the districts compete with charters, compete with privates, the tax revenues stay the same but fewer students are in the school so spending per capita increases. Muzzle the California Teachers' Association if you want to curtail someone's rights; don't do it to parents.

Brian Boyd said...

Thanks for the update explaining that all is not lost. As someone who very much hopes to have a 'Big Catholic Family' and homeschool them all, it'd be a shame to learn that the anti-homeschooling trend was gaining so much ground.