California Appeals Court rules on Homeschooling

The recent ruling by a California Appeals court has declared that children homeschooled must be taught by someone with a teaching credential. This leaves “an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.”

Yet the appeals court said state law has been clear since at least 1953, when another appellate court rejected a challenge by homeschooling parents to California’s compulsory education statutes. Those statutes require children ages 6 to 18 to attend a full-time day school, either public or private, or to be instructed by a tutor who holds a state credential for the child’s grade level.

“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.”

“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.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/07/MNJDVF0F1.DTL

Many children who are homschooled are not taught by someone with teaching credentials but they are affiliated with a private school in which they are considered part of an independent study program. As noted in the article the school will do home visits at least four times a year to observe. Many parents note that they choose homeschooling over public education for either religious reasons or “disillusionment with the local public schools.” Many times it comes down to the public education system which teaches evolution over creationism and other religious differences that clash with the separation of Church and State. Private schools though are not held to the same separation laws as public schools.

The ruling was applauded by a director for the state’s largest teachers union.

“We’re happy,” said Lloyd Porter, who is on the California Teachers Association board of directors. “We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting.”

A spokesman for the state Department of Education said the agency is reviewing the decision to determine its impact on current policies and procedures. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell issued a statement saying he supports “parental choice when it comes to homeschooling.”

So, is this an issue of education or is it an issue of child welfare? If children who are homeschooled can pass the standardized tests provided by the school system, does it really matter where they are schooled? I do believe this is a personal choice by the parents but I also understand it is far more complicated than this. It has far reaching implications from protecting the jobs of credentialed teachers and the impact on our public school system.
The Governor has called for a repeal of this ruling and issued a statement, of course.

“Every California child deserves a quality education, and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children,” Schwarzenegger said in response to the ruling, which said children educated at home must be taught by a credentialed teacher.

“Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education,” Schwarzenegger said. “This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts, and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will.”

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/08/MNCHVG0SD.DTL&type=politics

So, this is more than just parental rights, isn’t it? What do you think?

Heather Pritchard

I'm new to political blogging but have been writing most of my life about different things. I campaigned for President Clinton when he was just Governor Clinton in Orange County. I graduated from Smith College with a BA in English and a minor in Film. I work full time, have a lovely four year old daughter named Charlotte, my husband teaches full time at Cerritos College in Norwalk in the Music Department. Gary has a Ph.D in Ethnomusicology from UCI. I hope to go back to school in some form or another, maybe sociology or economics. I've even thought of Law school. Our newest edition to the household is our Weimaraner Sophie. 

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  23 comments for “California Appeals Court rules on Homeschooling

  1. cook
    March 8, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    The state owns your kids.

    You will be stoned until bleeding if you don’t turn your childen into the nears re-education camp. Everyone must conform to the teaching of the state religion.

    This June we get to vote on the judges, it seems to me the ones in this case need to be sent packing.

  2. March 8, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Absolutely disgusting.

    SMS

  3. Anonymous
    March 9, 2008 at 9:53 am

    I suprised the name “Hull-Richter” has not yet come up.

    I guess I am throwing the names out there…

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    March 10, 2008 at 9:01 am

    I find it interesting that teachers continually need to reinvest their personal funds into maintaining their continuing education for the teaching credential, but a parent can do home schooling without the same standard. There is a whole part of education that comes from being in a classroom; interacting with peers and building social skills that you’ll carry with you through life. I am not against home schooling, but think a parent who wants to make this choice should have a teaching credential.

  5. March 10, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Dan-

    I see your point, but you have to remember that even home-schooled kids have to follow the proper curriculum for their grade level and as I understand it, they have to test to confirm it. Homeschooling also allows children who are either above or below that grade level more opportunities for individual self-improvement without distraction and more field learning, which I, as well as a lot of other parents, think is very important.

    My son comes home every day complaining that he finds school boring, but the interesting thing is he is extremely precocious and loves to learn but apparently only from me.

    I’ve considered home-schooling many times and what’s funny is that he just asked me not an hour after this post went up if I could do just that, but unfortunately, I now have to tell him no. He was so sad. :(

    He was so cute yesterday as I explained to him why Wal-Mart is bad, which also raises the importance of values lessons that I prefer the schools not teach him.

    SMS

  6. Kat
    March 10, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Why is it that a woman has a right to terminate a pregnancy but not a right home school her children? Maybe the State should mandate parenting credentials too.

  7. March 10, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Kat – They really are not comparable. Even though I don’t think abortion is right I also don’t believe the Government should be involved in such a decision.

    As for home schooling, I have mixed feelings. I’ve already heard stories from people because of this post about friends who homeschool and how their children had a hard time readjusting to public school when the transitioned back. I think it’s more complicated than just the teaching credentials but this is the legal standpoint, something arguable in court.

    And they are not saying people can’t homeschool just that they should have teaching credentials.

  8. win
    March 11, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Should credentials be required for homeschooling? No, there are teachers in California’s public schools without the proper credentials. The state of California should have to prove that teaching by a non-credentialed adult is harmful before they have the gain the right to interfere in a parents education decisions. The state needs to remember that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a parents right to rear their children is a fundamental right.

    The State is interfering with a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Other court decisions in this area are enlightening.

  9. Dan Chmielewski
    March 11, 2008 at 11:55 am

    “The State is interfering with a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Other court decisions in this area are enlightening.”

    Homeschooling is a constitutional right? Explain please….

  10. March 11, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Win – There are emergency credentials that are given to teachers because of our desperate need to have a teacher in the classroom. This is the only thing that moativates emergency credentials and it’s a temporary solution to a longterm problem.

    % Fully Credentialed Teachers
    ——————————————————————————–
    This is the percent of teachers who hold a full credential. It excludes teachers in their assignment based on an emergency credential, a waiver, or because they are in an intern program. Please note that interns and teachers with a waiver or emergency credential may legally provide direct instruction to students.

    http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/gls_PctFull.asp

    The State has a legal obligation to have a certain amount of teachers regardless if there are enough credentialed teachers available. I’m sure if teachers were paid an adequate wage upon entering the field and they were not depended upon to use their income to supplement supplies we may have more qualified teachers to chose from. This is a complicated issue that has many implications and also calls into question our entire education system.

  11. larry gilbert
    March 11, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Without mentioning program names our 11 year old grandaughter is home schooled in northern CA by our daughter. They were very careful in making sure that the program was linked in some fashion to their local school district which periodically sends a representative to their home to test our grandaughter. My sense is that these visits are related to the local district being compensated even though our grandaughter is not in their classrooms. As an aside she is very active in outside activities so that she is with other children her own age.

  12. March 11, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Our son was homeschooled until we fled Taxifornia for Oregon 2 years ago. His first year in public high school and he has a 3.75 GPA. Public schools offer no better education and in most cases a much worse education. California’s public school system and the teacher’s union have one primary goal in mind: to indoctrinate children into the liberal homesexual agenda …period.

  13. March 12, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I am not against home schooling, but think a parent who wants to make this choice should have a teaching credential.

    Nonsense.

    No study to date has seriously made any significant reliable claim that this whole socialization bruha or credentialism means anything more than job creation programs for teachers. The myth of socialization and credentialing has been exploded many times over. The court overstepped its own bounds, made law from the bench whereas this should have been done via the legislature IF done at all, and took what should have been an isolated allegation and extended by some magical default to all homeschoolers in the state. Rather suspect to be kind.

    And not to put a fine point on this, but just how much time and effort and money and risk of PC nannyism will be found in these “credentialing” courses that no doubt must be monitored by the state?

    No question the activists have had this brewing for some time. Figuring there’s more than one way to skin a cat, put more burdens on homeschoolers, and find a back door way to make sure that IF homeschooling remains intact the credential issues assures that certain kinds of ideology get forced into the home.

    One might as well claim that private cooking in a private kitchen endangers the majesty and power and taste of public funded soup kitchens. Naturally, the state teachers’ union is pleased with the prospects. Their reasoning is probably not, as they claim, about education quality or child safety. The NEA and the other local teachers’ unions gave up any room to talk on that set of issues long ago anyhow.

    http://www.nheri.org/index.php?searchword=socialization&option=com_search&Itemid=5

    http://www.nheri.org/NHERI-Research.html

    http://www.brookings.edu/articles/2000/summer_education_hill02.aspx
    (Brookings study on the homeschool phenomenon)

    Time’s story on this http:
    http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101010827/cover.html

    We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission –Ayn Rand

  14. Bladerunner
    March 13, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Wakefield–you’re a long way from Atlanta and a long way from convincing readers of this blog of the value of homeschooling or the weakness of the court decision.
    Attacking teachers is a non-starter for many of us who know teachers, respect the work they do with children and adults and know they and their associations are committed to who are committed to educational quality and child safety.

    Having said that, I support homeschooling and while I haven’t sat down and read the case, it appears to me from excerpts that the Court overstepped its bounds and imposed a restriction that was not intended by the legislature. It seems California Superintendent of Instruction jack O’Connell, a liberals liberal, agrees and is committed to continuing home schooling. There is a system set up now that regulates home schooling and I am not aware of any data to suggest it is not effective.

    If people want to insist that home schoolers are taught by someone with a teaching credential, go to the legislature and impose this restriction the old fashioned way–pass a bill and get the Governor to sign it or override his veto.

    As to heathers question–there are a number of issues that cross-pollinate the discussion here. But parental rights lies at the core. if we are truly to be a Party that supports families, supporting this decision seems an odd way to show it.

  15. Emily Anne
    March 13, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Does anyone find it ironic that this is all happening as the mass teacher layoffs are upon us? The classrooms that are already over crowded and about to be more crowded next year, why not just drop another 100,000 on top of all those kids can share desks, pens and paper. I know there is more at stake here and everyone has their own opinion I just found this ironic.

  16. March 13, 2008 at 7:47 am

    I think the idea that a person needs to be credentialed to teach their own children is absurd. Every parent is teaching his/her own children every day. Are we to withhold the sewing, woodworking, or manners lessons because we aren’t credentialed?

    Religious education teachers in churches, synagogues, etc. are seldom credentialed. Is credentialling for those folks on the horizon?

    In both public and private schools, parent volunteers often perform teaching tasks.

    And here’s the strangest one yet. In today’s large classrooms with overburdened teachers, the brightest kids are often used as teachers for the slower kids. A teacher will take the top students aside and pair them up with the slowest students. This allows the teacher to teach to the middle while ignoring the top and bottom of the class. If an uncredentialed adult parent isn’t allowed to teach, why are uncredentialed young children being made into teachers?

    Admittedly the above only happens in the classrooms of pretty poor teachers, but it definitely happens. (And yes, it has stuck in my craw since my kids were in elementary school.)

  17. March 13, 2008 at 7:58 am

    I understand and at the same time, I can see the point of view of teachers. They feel it devalues their own educations and credentials. It’s a common feeling among people who commit time and money into learning about something and getting a degree.

    I do however think that socialization is an issue in some cases, is it all cases? I highly doubt it. But I have been told from first hand accounts about issues. And, I think parents can be too close to be the teacher of everything. Gary won’t give Charlotte piano lessons because we know she would be better off having someone else teach her, it’s a different vibe. It doesn’t mean he’s not qualified to do it, it just means that Charlotte does relate to her teachers in a different way than her father.

    If a parent is unable to draw a line and get the kind of attention and discipline from their child that a classroom setting might give, then maybe homeschooling is not the best option. I would think it’s more by a child to child basis than anything else. I am sure there are children in the school system that might benefit a great deal from one on one instruction from their parents.

  18. Dan Chmielewski
    March 13, 2008 at 8:48 am

    “California’s public school system and the teacher’s union have one primary goal in mind: to indoctrinate children into the liberal homesexual agenda …period. ”

    Daniel, pray tell, what is the liberal homesexual agenda and how do California school teach it? With two kids in the California school system, I haven’t seen anything that presents itself quite like you did.

    The most objectionable thing I have ever seen was a education newsletter that came home with a quiz on political parties. The question for the GOP was “believes in low taxes and limited government” and the queston for the Democrats was “party’s symbol is a donkey.” I sent a note back to the teacher that the correct answer to the first question was “The Libertarian Party.”

    But Daniel, if you’re kid is gay, he/she was born that way. California schools don’t teach subjects on how to turn someone gay. And teaching tolerance and mutual respect for those different than ourselves are positive life lessons, aren’t they?

  19. March 13, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Dan C – I completely forgot about Daniel’s comment, I think I wanted to put it out of my mind. Thank you for responding respectfully, I was at a loss.

  20. March 13, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I can see the point of view of teachers. They feel it devalues their own educations and credentials.

    I understand that, but I don’t think the feelings of teachers ought to be part of the motivation here. Are auto mechanics offended when I change my own oil? If so, they need to get over it.

    I think parents can be too close to be the teacher of everything.

    First of all, no one forces anyone to homeschool and it isn’t appropriate for everyone. Second, parents who homeschool, particularly in the upper grades, sometimes find themselves incompetent to teach every subject. They then pursue other resources such as tutors and community college courses.

    I do however think that socialization is an issue in some cases

    Yes, but socialization is an issue even for some kids who go to ‘regular’ school. Again, it’s up to the parent to develop socialization resources, and the homeschooling parents I know have done very well with this.

    I’ve known zillions of homeschoolers and they’re all doing it for different reasons. One family homeschooled their oldest child (but not the others) because he had been teased so much at the public school that he couldn’t function. Another did it because they thought the local (Orange County) public school was a conservative and Christian indoctrination center. A few have done it because they felt the local schools didn’t teach enough art and music. And when one of my kids was in a class in which the teacher died suddenly, some parents pulled their kids out and homeschooled them because their children had been so traumatized by the death of the teacher that they weren’t able to function in the classroom.

  21. March 13, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Gila – I agree, it’s complicated and I don’t think I should have said that only teacher’s with credentials should homeschool.

    This is a tough choice for us, Charlotte starts kindergarten this year and Gary really wanted her to go to a private school (The Farm school I think, at UCI) but we can’t really afford that. We hope that we can continue what we do now and just supplement her public school education with the “teaching” we do at home from our trips to the zoo, to listening to music together, etc. Learning is a life time process and when we want to fit it into a tiny little category we will fail, it’s just not that simple.

    So, what I was saying is that it’s not for everyone. It really has to come down to the public schools recognizing that not every child is made for their system of teaching. I really hadn’t formed much of an opinion prior to posting this, so it’s an evolution for me.

    I do think that when someone assumes that Public School is the end all be all and home schooling is also the only way to go there are issues, a variety of settings would probably benefit most kids. But I don’t know, just a guess on my part! I just know that for Charlotte it has helped her tremendously.

  22. March 13, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    We hope that we can continue what we do now and just supplement her public school education with the “teaching” we do at home from our trips to the zoo, to listening to music together, etc.

    Aren’t you going to do that whether she goes to private school or not? It’s a false dichotomy.

    But we have gotten off the topic and I want to bring it back.

    From what I understand of the case, it was originally an issue of child welfare. If a child is being mistreated by his/her parents, I believe the state has an obligation to do something about it. However, plenty of kids attending private and public schools get mistreated by their parents — the fact that this kid happened to be homeschooled is irrelevant and shouldn’t impact the rights of other families to choose homeschooling.

  23. March 13, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Yes, you are right, we would do the same thing if she was in private school.

    And I agree, it’s possible that the case is being used for all the wrong reasons, which is sad. Then it’s more about politics than it is about the welfare and what’s best for each child.

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