California outlawing homeschooling?

A California appeals court has ruled that children must be educated by a state-credentialed teacher and NOT by their parents! See Homeschoolers’ setback in appeals court ruling:

“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.

Go to The Home School Legal Defense Association for breaking news, analysis, the chance to sign a petition, and information about what may be done. (The HSLDA and Patrick Henry College where I teach share facilities. I’ll try to monitor this and keep you posted.)

UPDATE: Read the HSLDA response and the litigation being prepared.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • WebMonk

    There are a variety of arguments one could make over the idea of the extent of the State’s right to dictate educational and child-rearing requirements to parents.

    But just on the legal grounds that are currently in place in CA, “homeschooling” in CA is legally accomplished by enrolling in a private school that holds classes at home. There are umbrella private schools in CA that parents enroll in, and then teach their kids at home.

    The parents were enrolled in one of these, but the judge declared that this wasn’t good enough because “the children do not actually receive education instruction at the school” and “the parents have not demonstrated that mother has a teaching credential such
    that the children can be said to be receiving an education from a credentialed tutor.”

    CA has ruled and legislated that private school teachers need not be certified teachers, and that private school instruction does not have to take place in a particular location.

    From all the judge’s talk about the cases ruling against homeschooling (as in not even under the auspices of an umbrella private school), it sounds like the parents’ lawyer tried some rather dumb stuff by claiming that CA has no right to regulate school instruction to individuals at all. While that can be argued, a judge isn’t going to go against previous law on the topic, so the parents’ lawyers were bound to fail. I suspect they took advice from the parents if they really tried that.

    The thing the judge suggested toward the end was that it didn’t matter if the parents were part of the school or not, it only mattered that they weren’t being taught by a certified tutor. Maybe the parents’ lawyer didn’t know enough about the laws to realize that there isn’t a requirement that private school teachers be certified. CA law only requires that the teachers be “capable of teaching”.

    It’s also possible that the judge decided that regardless of what the law may or may not require, that private school teachers should be certified. Either way is believable to me after watching so many of these cases.

    Theoretically, if the CA Supreme Court didn’t overturn this decision at least in part, it could be a ruling that completely throws out all the current homeschooling practices for the state. I highly doubt that will happen though. Most likely the case will be partially upheld or something, but the state-wide removal of the private school homeschooling practice isn’t going to happen.

  • WebMonk

    There are a variety of arguments one could make over the idea of the extent of the State’s right to dictate educational and child-rearing requirements to parents.

    But just on the legal grounds that are currently in place in CA, “homeschooling” in CA is legally accomplished by enrolling in a private school that holds classes at home. There are umbrella private schools in CA that parents enroll in, and then teach their kids at home.

    The parents were enrolled in one of these, but the judge declared that this wasn’t good enough because “the children do not actually receive education instruction at the school” and “the parents have not demonstrated that mother has a teaching credential such
    that the children can be said to be receiving an education from a credentialed tutor.”

    CA has ruled and legislated that private school teachers need not be certified teachers, and that private school instruction does not have to take place in a particular location.

    From all the judge’s talk about the cases ruling against homeschooling (as in not even under the auspices of an umbrella private school), it sounds like the parents’ lawyer tried some rather dumb stuff by claiming that CA has no right to regulate school instruction to individuals at all. While that can be argued, a judge isn’t going to go against previous law on the topic, so the parents’ lawyers were bound to fail. I suspect they took advice from the parents if they really tried that.

    The thing the judge suggested toward the end was that it didn’t matter if the parents were part of the school or not, it only mattered that they weren’t being taught by a certified tutor. Maybe the parents’ lawyer didn’t know enough about the laws to realize that there isn’t a requirement that private school teachers be certified. CA law only requires that the teachers be “capable of teaching”.

    It’s also possible that the judge decided that regardless of what the law may or may not require, that private school teachers should be certified. Either way is believable to me after watching so many of these cases.

    Theoretically, if the CA Supreme Court didn’t overturn this decision at least in part, it could be a ruling that completely throws out all the current homeschooling practices for the state. I highly doubt that will happen though. Most likely the case will be partially upheld or something, but the state-wide removal of the private school homeschooling practice isn’t going to happen.

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  • Julie Voss

    Please do keep us posted. Thanks!

  • Julie Voss

    Please do keep us posted. Thanks!

  • David Thompson

    Stanford professor Rob Reich published a paper in 2002 that received much attention and was loved by the anti-homeschooling culture. It is this sort of thinking that the three judges in CA embrace. Here are some excerpts.

    “[B]ecause children are not the property of their parents or of the state, because they possess human dignity as independent beings, they ought not be educated so as to made servile to their caretakers.” (p. 23)

    “[N]o one set of parents’, state’s, or child’s interests can trump the others and justify sole authority for any party over educational provision. Neither parents, nor the state, nor children themselves should unilaterally and without a countervailing balance direct and control the educational environment of children.” (p. 25)

    “The problem arises over parents who…wish to control the socialization of their children so completely as to instill inerrant beliefs in their own worldview or unquestioning obedience to their own or other’s authority…” (p.29)

    “The state must therefore ensure that all children, regardless of the environment in which they are schooled, receive an education that exposes them to and engages them with values and beliefs other than those they find at home.” (p. 32)

    The full text can be found at http://www.hks.harvard.edu/m-rcbg/youngfaculty/papers/Homeschooling2002.pdf

  • David Thompson

    Stanford professor Rob Reich published a paper in 2002 that received much attention and was loved by the anti-homeschooling culture. It is this sort of thinking that the three judges in CA embrace. Here are some excerpts.

    “[B]ecause children are not the property of their parents or of the state, because they possess human dignity as independent beings, they ought not be educated so as to made servile to their caretakers.” (p. 23)

    “[N]o one set of parents’, state’s, or child’s interests can trump the others and justify sole authority for any party over educational provision. Neither parents, nor the state, nor children themselves should unilaterally and without a countervailing balance direct and control the educational environment of children.” (p. 25)

    “The problem arises over parents who…wish to control the socialization of their children so completely as to instill inerrant beliefs in their own worldview or unquestioning obedience to their own or other’s authority…” (p.29)

    “The state must therefore ensure that all children, regardless of the environment in which they are schooled, receive an education that exposes them to and engages them with values and beliefs other than those they find at home.” (p. 32)

    The full text can be found at http://www.hks.harvard.edu/m-rcbg/youngfaculty/papers/Homeschooling2002.pdf

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    The families involved did NOT utilize the HSLDA, which may have been one reason they lost their case. Anyway, we have top lawyers here, and the joint is jumping upstairs, with an all-organization meeting and lots of action getting underway.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    The families involved did NOT utilize the HSLDA, which may have been one reason they lost their case. Anyway, we have top lawyers here, and the joint is jumping upstairs, with an all-organization meeting and lots of action getting underway.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Yes, it didn’t involve the HSLDA, but don’t we pay judges to learn the relevant case law and apply it to every case, no matter who is litigating it? Isn’t the judge’s JOB to know the relevant precedents and apply them?

    My take; this decision doesn’t just beg to be overturned, it pleads for the removal of the judges who wrote it.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Yes, it didn’t involve the HSLDA, but don’t we pay judges to learn the relevant case law and apply it to every case, no matter who is litigating it? Isn’t the judge’s JOB to know the relevant precedents and apply them?

    My take; this decision doesn’t just beg to be overturned, it pleads for the removal of the judges who wrote it.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com Andy Adams

    The scariest part of that decision was the judge’s reference to the “children’s right to a legal education.”

    Taken to its logical end, this is just the sort of phrasing that would take away not just the ability to homeschool but to have any non-public education whatsoever.

    Pray tell what is “a legal education” and who gets to define that?

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com Andy Adams

    The scariest part of that decision was the judge’s reference to the “children’s right to a legal education.”

    Taken to its logical end, this is just the sort of phrasing that would take away not just the ability to homeschool but to have any non-public education whatsoever.

    Pray tell what is “a legal education” and who gets to define that?

  • Don S

    We have home schooled in CA since 1991, and have been blessed to enjoy a tremendous freedom over the years. To some extent, we have taken the freedom won by the homeschooling pioneers in the ’70′s and ’80′s for granted. I think this experience will get us back on our knees before the Lord our God, and help us to appreciate this opportunity we have had to direct the upbringing of our children and to ensure that they are fully prepared for our Lord’s service.

    We have a tremendous legal team working on our behalf, and I have confidence in a good outcome. This is the Lord’s work, and I don’t think He is done with CA and its children yet. As for the merits of the case, I think it is likely that the CA Supreme Court will depublish the case, on the basis that the broader issues of home schooling were not adequately briefed to justify such a sweeping precedent, and also to make the issue go away, given the incredible political groundswell that is being unleashed.

  • Don S

    We have home schooled in CA since 1991, and have been blessed to enjoy a tremendous freedom over the years. To some extent, we have taken the freedom won by the homeschooling pioneers in the ’70′s and ’80′s for granted. I think this experience will get us back on our knees before the Lord our God, and help us to appreciate this opportunity we have had to direct the upbringing of our children and to ensure that they are fully prepared for our Lord’s service.

    We have a tremendous legal team working on our behalf, and I have confidence in a good outcome. This is the Lord’s work, and I don’t think He is done with CA and its children yet. As for the merits of the case, I think it is likely that the CA Supreme Court will depublish the case, on the basis that the broader issues of home schooling were not adequately briefed to justify such a sweeping precedent, and also to make the issue go away, given the incredible political groundswell that is being unleashed.

  • The Jones

    Andy, I can only hope that was a typo and it was supposed to say “legal right to an education.” If every child has a “right to a legal education,” God help us with the entire generation of lawyers that is being raised in our midst.
    I think most children, through state constitutions anyway, do have a legal right to an education. And this is a good thing. If child is actually being deprived of an education, he is being cheated out of not only something that would make him more financially successful and a better citizen, but something that makes us better humans: communicating, understanding, knowing God and knowing ourselves. Education breeds freedom. Liberty cannot exist without knowledge and wisdom.
    The problem is, some people think that values, or teaching students what they ought and ought not like and dislike, are not a beneficial thing in education. After all, Read Mr. Thompson’s post. You can see that education is about being EXPOSED to a plurality of ideas and parents cannot be allowed to instill ONLY their values on a child. Somehow, in the free flow of ideas and values, the cream will rise to the top, as if men had no appetites and as if reason was never subverted to the slavery of rationalization for the defense of base desires.
    Rather, the core of the educaiton should be the IMPLANTATION of correct values. Exposure to values is easy. Implantation is extremely difficult and tedious.

  • The Jones

    Andy, I can only hope that was a typo and it was supposed to say “legal right to an education.” If every child has a “right to a legal education,” God help us with the entire generation of lawyers that is being raised in our midst.
    I think most children, through state constitutions anyway, do have a legal right to an education. And this is a good thing. If child is actually being deprived of an education, he is being cheated out of not only something that would make him more financially successful and a better citizen, but something that makes us better humans: communicating, understanding, knowing God and knowing ourselves. Education breeds freedom. Liberty cannot exist without knowledge and wisdom.
    The problem is, some people think that values, or teaching students what they ought and ought not like and dislike, are not a beneficial thing in education. After all, Read Mr. Thompson’s post. You can see that education is about being EXPOSED to a plurality of ideas and parents cannot be allowed to instill ONLY their values on a child. Somehow, in the free flow of ideas and values, the cream will rise to the top, as if men had no appetites and as if reason was never subverted to the slavery of rationalization for the defense of base desires.
    Rather, the core of the educaiton should be the IMPLANTATION of correct values. Exposure to values is easy. Implantation is extremely difficult and tedious.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    “The state must therefore ensure that all children, regardless of the environment in which they are schooled, receive an education that exposes them to and engages them with values and beliefs other than those they find at home.”

    I am sure that the state wouldn’t be too keen if these “ideas other than what they find at home” included racism, bigotry and intolerance or on the opposite side: Christianity! What they mean by a “plurality of ideas” is a select group of ideas approved by them.

    Here in Maryland parents and the public schools are fighting about these “ideas” in regards to sex ed. The public schools want to teach about orientation and oral sex and parents aren’t comfortable with the school teaching these things.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    “The state must therefore ensure that all children, regardless of the environment in which they are schooled, receive an education that exposes them to and engages them with values and beliefs other than those they find at home.”

    I am sure that the state wouldn’t be too keen if these “ideas other than what they find at home” included racism, bigotry and intolerance or on the opposite side: Christianity! What they mean by a “plurality of ideas” is a select group of ideas approved by them.

    Here in Maryland parents and the public schools are fighting about these “ideas” in regards to sex ed. The public schools want to teach about orientation and oral sex and parents aren’t comfortable with the school teaching these things.

  • Andy Adams

    If it was a typo, it was not mine. What a difference a letter makes.

  • Andy Adams

    If it was a typo, it was not mine. What a difference a letter makes.

  • http://blog.faith-filled.com/ Stephenie

    If they can’t educate them, then can they be allowed to raise them?

    Will we have institutionalized childcare for all children? Only approved parents will be allowed.

    I have seen enough homeschooling gone bad to think there should be some sort of regulation, but I think most states do some form of that.

  • http://blog.faith-filled.com/ Stephenie

    If they can’t educate them, then can they be allowed to raise them?

    Will we have institutionalized childcare for all children? Only approved parents will be allowed.

    I have seen enough homeschooling gone bad to think there should be some sort of regulation, but I think most states do some form of that.

  • http://www.cftie.org/2007/12/sb-777-will-per.html Larry

    Home schooling is illegal in California. Most home schoolers are Christians and all they know to do is fearmonger. Just look at this as an example!

    http://www.cftie.org/2007/12/sb-777-will-per.html

  • http://www.cftie.org/2007/12/sb-777-will-per.html Larry

    Home schooling is illegal in California. Most home schoolers are Christians and all they know to do is fearmonger. Just look at this as an example!

    http://www.cftie.org/2007/12/sb-777-will-per.html

  • C.A. McCoy

    Just a quick note here, as many of us are taken aback by this recent ruling. . .perhaps what parents may need in the interim (whilst this is all ironed out in the courts), are referrals to Christian educators who are certificated in the state of CA. to serve in some capacity to assist those who would like to continue home schooling.

  • C.A. McCoy

    Just a quick note here, as many of us are taken aback by this recent ruling. . .perhaps what parents may need in the interim (whilst this is all ironed out in the courts), are referrals to Christian educators who are certificated in the state of CA. to serve in some capacity to assist those who would like to continue home schooling.

  • Bror Erickson

    As one who attended California’s public schools, and dropped out because they were waisting my time. Seriously I left that mess as soon as I could talk my parents into it. I have to say the state of California is the last state in the world to be talking about a Child’s legal right to an education. They are certainly not capable of providing anything of the sort, much less are they able to provide a child with an education certifying them for the California bar, by giving them the right to a “legal education.” :)

  • Bror Erickson

    As one who attended California’s public schools, and dropped out because they were waisting my time. Seriously I left that mess as soon as I could talk my parents into it. I have to say the state of California is the last state in the world to be talking about a Child’s legal right to an education. They are certainly not capable of providing anything of the sort, much less are they able to provide a child with an education certifying them for the California bar, by giving them the right to a “legal education.” :)

  • Don S

    C.A. @ 14, that’s a good thought, but I don’t think it’s workable. There are at least 200,000 home-schooled students in CA (no one knows for sure how many there are), and teachers need to be credentialed by grade level in grades 1-8 and by subject in grades 9-12. It’s not as simple as whether or not you are credentialed, but how you are credentialed. There are not nearly enough Christian credentialed teachers in CA to serve such a need. Most private Christian schools use uncredentialed teachers, at least in part, because private schools are only required to use teachers “capable of teaching”, which term has never been defined.

    No, I think the answer is to keep going with our home schooling programs and to stand together while this thing is being worked out in the courts. Everyone here in CA (Dept. of Education, public school districts, home schoolers, private schools, etc.) have been on the same page as to what the CA education statutes meant, and that they permitted home schooling under the private school provisions, and we cannot let three people in black robes upset 25 years of precedent.

  • Don S

    C.A. @ 14, that’s a good thought, but I don’t think it’s workable. There are at least 200,000 home-schooled students in CA (no one knows for sure how many there are), and teachers need to be credentialed by grade level in grades 1-8 and by subject in grades 9-12. It’s not as simple as whether or not you are credentialed, but how you are credentialed. There are not nearly enough Christian credentialed teachers in CA to serve such a need. Most private Christian schools use uncredentialed teachers, at least in part, because private schools are only required to use teachers “capable of teaching”, which term has never been defined.

    No, I think the answer is to keep going with our home schooling programs and to stand together while this thing is being worked out in the courts. Everyone here in CA (Dept. of Education, public school districts, home schoolers, private schools, etc.) have been on the same page as to what the CA education statutes meant, and that they permitted home schooling under the private school provisions, and we cannot let three people in black robes upset 25 years of precedent.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Lessee….my great aunt started teaching around 1933 with about ten weeks’ worth of college at a one room schoolhouse, and managed to teach people to read. Today, people are coming into the classroom with masters’ degrees, and are not managing to teach students how to read about 25% of the time.

    Can we jettison the idea that degrees or education schools actually confer an ability to teach? Please?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Lessee….my great aunt started teaching around 1933 with about ten weeks’ worth of college at a one room schoolhouse, and managed to teach people to read. Today, people are coming into the classroom with masters’ degrees, and are not managing to teach students how to read about 25% of the time.

    Can we jettison the idea that degrees or education schools actually confer an ability to teach? Please?

  • Jay Ramos

    Great point, Bubba. I was a teacher in the public school system for three years. It was an incredibly frustrating experience.

    The curriculum provided by the state was so detailed in its requirements as to remove any ability to imbue it with any kind of personal touch. I was told over and over that I needed to make sure the “essential elements” (a phrase found throughout our curriculum as given to us by the state department of education) were in my lessons.

    I always have been a bit of a rebel (tell me I can’t do something and watch me go!), so I fought every step of the way, but most of the other teachers simply fell in line after being beaten into submission.

    It would seem to me that a parent who is willing to take on the task of educating their own child probably is one who will make sure that the child will learn more than some teacher who can’t bring himself to care anymore (if he ever did in the first place). Is it right to penalize these parents because they refuse to have their children indoctrinated, er, educated by the state?

    Did anyone else have visions of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, or was it just me?

  • Jay Ramos

    Great point, Bubba. I was a teacher in the public school system for three years. It was an incredibly frustrating experience.

    The curriculum provided by the state was so detailed in its requirements as to remove any ability to imbue it with any kind of personal touch. I was told over and over that I needed to make sure the “essential elements” (a phrase found throughout our curriculum as given to us by the state department of education) were in my lessons.

    I always have been a bit of a rebel (tell me I can’t do something and watch me go!), so I fought every step of the way, but most of the other teachers simply fell in line after being beaten into submission.

    It would seem to me that a parent who is willing to take on the task of educating their own child probably is one who will make sure that the child will learn more than some teacher who can’t bring himself to care anymore (if he ever did in the first place). Is it right to penalize these parents because they refuse to have their children indoctrinated, er, educated by the state?

    Did anyone else have visions of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, or was it just me?

  • WebMonk

    Jay, you’re right that parents who are wiling to educate their kids usually make sure the kids truly learn. It’s something of a point of pride that home schoolers have MUCH better educational scores in just about every possible way – SATs, ACTs, college grades, science/geography/spelling competitions, etc. It’s hard to find an area where home schooled students don’t far out-pace their public schooled counterparts.

    They are also old enough that there are now studies available on homeschool graduates in non-academic areas. Try

    nheri.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=171&Itemid=47

  • WebMonk

    Jay, you’re right that parents who are wiling to educate their kids usually make sure the kids truly learn. It’s something of a point of pride that home schoolers have MUCH better educational scores in just about every possible way – SATs, ACTs, college grades, science/geography/spelling competitions, etc. It’s hard to find an area where home schooled students don’t far out-pace their public schooled counterparts.

    They are also old enough that there are now studies available on homeschool graduates in non-academic areas. Try

    nheri.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=171&Itemid=47


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