Court ruling could make some home schools illegal

homeschool.jpgA state appeals court has ruled that California parents don’t have a constitutional right to home school their children, and that all kids need credentialed teachers.

The Associated Press estimates there are 166,000 home-schooled children in California, but that it is unclear how many of them are taught by uncredentialed teachers (i.e. parents).

Do you know Oakland or East Bay families who could be affected by this ruling (which will likely be appealed, if it hasn’t been already)? In your opinion, should parents have the right to educate their own children, even if they don’t have credentials?

Oh, and Gov. Schwarzenegger just jumped into the fray, via news release:

“Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will.”

image from sdBrian’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://BESTOfAnswers Mariann Coyle

    I don’t have kids myself. I know many children both in public school and home schooled. Many times when I find out the child is home schooled, I reflect back on the many interactions I have had with the student. I recognize that the homeschool children are usually much more polite, have better vocabulary and are years ahead of their peers in english history and math. Most homeschooled kids have a much stronger sence of family, self worth, self reliance, respect for others,and accountability for themselves.
    There is so much good information and good homeschooling programs out there now. I understand some parents do not have the means to homeschool, or temperment. Those that do and can, I hope this country does not try to take that away from them. I would hate for this to go the way of Russia.

  • Jill

    Why should homeschoolers be credentialed when many private school teachers (and apparently many public school teachers) are allowed to teach without meeting the credential requirements laid out by the law? Also, the law seems to indicate that private schools need to be accredited and there are lots of private schools that are not, even here in the Bay Area, and nobody bothers them. It’s an unequal enforcement of the law biased toward individuals and not organizations.

  • Debora

    I agree both with what Mariann and Jill have said. I have a friend who home schooled her two kids and both were polite, well-educated, fantastic people to be around.

    Then I have my cousin Cindy, who home schooled her two kids. The eldest daughter Stephanie could not pass the GED – the first, second or third attempt. Her parents eventually hired a credentialed teacher to tutor her and she passed. My cousin said that it didn’t matter much anyway because Stephanie was destined to be a “homemaker and mother.” She’s now divorced with three kids and no way to support herself. Cindy’s second daughter Alexis chose to enter a private Christian Academy at about age 10.

    I really struggle with this topic because many of my daughter’s own intellectual needs are not being met at school. She has asked me to home school her and quite frankly I don’t think I have the temperament or the educational level my daughter needs as she advances.

    In the court case, I believe the judges erred, because it was about two children and suspected abuse. The case should have been about protecting the children not about the sweeping home school movement.

  • Nextset

    Only a matter of time before we see the rise of Internet Primary and Secondary Schools – perhaps tied to local Church Schools or for-profit private schools. It’s already happening in College level education. This will degrade the power of the state schools (and allow people to keep their kids out of the rotten state schools). It will also defeat the argument and logic of this new court decision.

    The state schools in CA urban areas are so bad it’s hard to knock parent schooling. This case looks like a power grab by the Statists. Doubt they will actually get away with it.

  • Maria Ku

    My friends’ 10th-grade daughter had no English teacher assigned to her class last year. They had some subs, a new one every day. Then there were no subs – instead, the school district put a SECURITY GUARD in their classroom to keep them quiet. The security guard was there continuously for two months!!, instead of a teacher.

    So this is education while homeschooling your children is a criminal offense?

  • Nextset

    We will probably see a state ballot proposition making it clear that the people have a right to remove their children from the state schools and homeschool them without such interference from the state. It will pass, but I predict the church and private schools will not support it offering themselves as the only alternative to government schools. Both political parties (and the unions) will oppose it also because both the democrats and republicians have decided to embrace the all encompassing power of the state over individuals – hoping to be the party to run that totalitarian state.

    The con side of this is that abused children, cult children and such would be withdrawn from all schools to make sure that nobody sees what is being done to the them and that the children don’t have anyone to tell about abuse. But that is a pretty good trade off to allow families to keep their kids out of degenerate state schools.

    I still believe the elephant in the room is the looming power of the Internet to destroy old systems in favor of new ways of doing everything. The Internet has so far not reached into secondary education but when it does it will be a takeover. The private school industry will be increasing their market share through the Internet.

  • John

    Perhaps parents could sign up for a ‘qualified credentialed teacher’ K-12 get your diploma program? The parents would make a tax deductible “donation” to the ‘non-profit’ on line K-12 school and have it paid(back) to them for being instructional aides. OR how about a fully credentialed cyber-space K-12 charter school that keeps 15% of the collected ADA money and kicks back 85% to homeschooler parents for instructional aide services. OR a viscious drug resistent strain of some lethal disease wipes out the California State Assembly and Senate and eveyone is permanently scared to run for public office.

  • Sue

    Before we had kids, we thought we’d home-school.

    But after older son was born, and before his problem was diagnosed as autism, we’d figured out that he needed more help than we could give him. We wanted to do what was best for him, so we had no choice but to put his education in the hands of professionals with the training and experience that we lacked.

    For the most part, those professionals, teachers, have been outstanding. Dedicated to all their students’ success, and specifically fostering our son’s progress and successes. There were occassional exceptions, of course – general education teachers who didn’t “believe” in IEPs, and consequently wouldn’t follow them. That’s what state and federal education laws are for.

    Younger son might have done somewhat better if we’d home schooled him, but he might not have either.

    He’s one of those kids who’s going to thrive almost anywhere. By the time he was five, *he* wanted to attend public school with other kids just like his big brother. And we still needed to keep involved and on top of the older son’s education, which is a huge drain on our time and energy, and if the lawyers needed to be involved, on our bank account too.

    Attempting to home school our younger son would most likely have short-changed both our sons. So, the best balance for our family was to have both of them attend public schools.

    We’re close friends with a few families who are home schooling, and I think the kids are learning and happy. A part of me is a bit envious that the home schooling option couldn’t work for our family. I hate to see it taken away from those friends.

    But there’s also the selfish part of me that wonders if the families with the time, energy, money and knowledge to home school their own children, might be the same missing “time, energy, money and knowledge” that would solve (or at least reduce) the worst problems in our public school system.

  • http://www.bridges-of-compassion.webs.com Carl Miller

    There is no easy answer to homeschooling. I have homeschooled three children, and they have all done quite well, but I have seen children who were homeschooled in Christian homes, who spent most of their time reading Bible stories and being told that evolution is a ruse of the devil. I know of one case where parents were allowed to teach their children high school subjects, even though the parents didn’t finish high school themselves. Another boy here in West Virginia was only reading at third grade level, even though he was in seventh grade. When he returned to school, he had to attend remedial reading classes. Most of his education had centered around the Bible, and so he didn’t have basic skills in math or science. Thus, it can be a really good experience for students, but when parents use homeschooling to indoctrinate their children with religious propaganda, it can cripple the children and result in a real lack of education.