Saturday, March 8, 2008

California Home Schooling at risk...

In Thursday's news, a ruling by the California 2nd District Court of Appeals is a big blow to the home schooling families of that state. From the reading I have done on the issue, the family against whom the initial case was brought has eight children. The mother, who is the primary teacher of the children, has an 11th grade education. From the accounts, the teaching her children were receiving was determined to be substandard. From what I can gather, this family wasn't actually doing the job in educating their children, so the state stepped in to try to force them to do it.

Now, not knowing all the details of the actual case, I certainly cannot say whether the state has just reason to intervene or whether this is a case of overzealous public officials. Regardless, the ruling the court has made will have effects on all home-schooling familes in the state. Rather than ruling on this one family's case, the court has taken the opportunity to legislate from the bench.

The number of home-schooled children is a very large number -- estimated at 166,000. Although I know the school system would dearly love the additional revenue that would be added to their budget from the infusion of that many more children into the system (not to mention how happy the teachers' union must be), I am wondering what the end result of this will be. I am guessing that many home-schooling families will not comply with this. Perhaps they will move out of state or find some other way around the most strict ruling.

Compliance with this ruling would be a heavy burden on individual families. Families would be required to prove that one of the parents has a certificate to teach the specific grades they'll be teaching. This is not required of teachers in private schools. It seems unfair that individual families (who are able to provide much more individualized attention to their children) be held to a higher standard than teachers in a classroom at a private school. For many parents, the option of sending their children to a private school is also not financially feasible since none of their tax dollars can be used to offset the costs.

Finally, at issue is the parents' right to determine how best to educate their children. Especially in California, the cutting edge of political correctness in terms of homosexuality, sex education, and alternative lifestyles, many parents may make the determination that the modifications to the curricula to accomodate these issues are in opposition to their own beliefs. So, does the state have the right to indoctrinate children against the will of their parents?

I plan to follow this issue as more information becomes available as to how this will play out in the actual enforcement of this ruling. As a member of HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association), I am sure I'll be receiving updates on the class action appeal they plan to make in defense of the many HSLDA member families in California.

In Germany, homeschooling is not allowed. See these links to see news about the situation for families there.

This World Net Daily report gives an interesting overview of the situation in Germany.

It behooves all of us who do home educate our children to do the best job possible and to keep ourselves above reproach. The ruling in California shows how private actions of an individual family can negatively impact many others.

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