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