Home schooling no more (in California)?

Home schooling no more (in California)? March 6, 2008

The L.A. Times has this story about a recent ruling by an appellate (state) court in California:

Parents who lack teaching credentials cannot educate their children at home, according to a state appellate court ruling that is sending waves of fear through California’s home schooling families.

Advocates for the families vowed to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Enforcement until then appears unlikely, but if the ruling stands, home-schooling supporters say California will have the most regressive law in the nation. . . .

“Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children,” wrote Justice H. Walter Croskey in a Feb. 28 opinion signed by the two other members of the district court. “Parents who fail to [comply with school enrollment laws] may be subject to a criminal complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction, and subject to imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and counseling program.”

Phillip Long said he believes the ruling stems from hostility against Christians and vowed to appeal to the state Supreme Court. . . .

Thoughts?  Predictions?

UPDATE:  A reader writes:

. . . Although I haven’t read the actual ruling, my initial reactions are that this is not a case that homeschooling advocates would want to push too far. Just on the facts presented in the story, this family is obviously struggling in ways aside from schooling – they’ve had allegations of abuse, and this is a case initially filed by a guardian ad litem (or something similar). 

I support homeschooling (and was homeschooled myself a couple of years) but this is not the type of homeschooling situation I would envision as the ideal – far from it, actually. Even though one gentleman comments that he thinks the ruling stems from hostility against Christians, I would say it could very easily be construed as being a decision favoring the best interests of the children. This might be a case in which homeschooling could be demonstrably detrimental rather than beneficial for the children, which would make the case hard to win either in and I am leery of saying “homeschooling at all costs for anyone who wants to.” If it were me pursuing a case like this, I would think a good, long time before making these people the poster children for homeschoolers everywhere.  In addition, while homeschooling is often seen as being a religiously-motivated, it is a fallacy that all homeschoolers are Christian. Many are not Christian,  or even religious at all. From my homeschooling friends in the Twin Cities, I know of secular homeschooling co-ops here, and I’m sure that with a little research one could find similar organizations in California. Painting this as an “anti-Christian” ruling ignores the growing appeal of homeschooling outside Christian circles. It is too bad the reporter writing this story did not explore the demographics of homeschoolers a little more fully.  My prediction is that this ruling will not result in homeschooling witch-hunts in California. My bet would be that criminal charges would be low on most prosecutors’ priority lists. Until there is a definitive statement from the state supreme court or some sort of legislative changes to homeschooling regulations, I would predict things will remain status quo.

And, Joe Knippenberg has more information, here.

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