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Thread: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl.../MNJDVF0F1.DTL

    A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.

    The homeschooling movement never saw the case coming.

    "At first, there was a sense of, 'No way,' " said homeschool parent Loren Mavromati, a resident of Redondo Beach (Los Angeles County) who is active with a homeschool association. "Then there was a little bit of fear. I think it has moved now into indignation."

    The ruling arose from a child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long of Lynwood, who have been homeschooling their eight children. Mary Long is their teacher, but holds no teaching credential.

    The parents said they also enrolled their children in Sunland Christian School, a private religious academy in Sylmar (Los Angeles County), which considers the Long children part of its independent study program and visits the home about four times a year.

    The Second District Court of Appeal ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time public or private schools or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home.

    Some homeschoolers are affiliated with private or charter schools, like the Longs, but others fly under the radar completely. Many homeschooling families avoid truancy laws by registering with the state as a private school and then enroll only their own children.

    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."

    Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.

    "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.
    Union pleased with ruling

    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."

    Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which agreed earlier this week to represent Sunland Christian School and legally advise the Long family on a likely appeal to the state Supreme Court, said the appellate court ruling has set a precedent that can now be used to go after homeschoolers. "With this case law, anyone in California who is homeschooling without a teaching credential is subject to prosecution for truancy violation, which could require community service, heavy fines and possibly removal of their children under allegations of educational neglect," Dacus said.

    Parents say they choose homeschooling for a variety of reasons, from religious beliefs to disillusionment with the local public schools.

    Homeschooling parent Debbie Schwarzer of Los Altos said she's ready for a fight.

    Schwarzer runs Oak Hill Academy out of her Santa Clara County home. It is a state-registered private school with two students, she said, noting they are her own children, ages 10 and 12. She does not have a teaching credential, but she does have a law degree.

    "I'm kind of hoping some truancy officer shows up on my doorstep," she said. "I'm ready. I have damn good arguments."

    She opted to teach her children at home to better meet their needs.

    The ruling, Schwarzer said, "stinks."
    Began as child welfare case

    The Long family legal battle didn't start out as a test case on the validity of homeschooling. It was a child welfare case.

    A juvenile court judge looking into one child's complaint of mistreatment by Philip Long found that the children were being poorly educated but refused to order two of the children, ages 7 and 9, to be enrolled in a full-time school. He said parents in California have a right to educate their children at home.

    The appeals court told the juvenile court judge to require the parents to comply with the law by enrolling their children in a school, but excluded the Sunland Christian School from enrolling the children because that institution "was willing to participate in the deprivation of the children's right to a legal education."

    The decision could also affect other kinds of homeschooled children, including those enrolled in independent study or distance learning through public charter schools - a setup similar to the one the Longs have, Dacus said.

    Charter school advocates disagreed, saying Thursday that charter schools are public and are required to employ only credentialed teachers to supervise students - whether in class or through independent study.
    Ruling will apply statewide

    Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said the ruling would effectively ban homeschooling in the state.

    "California is now on the path to being the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their own children at home," he said in a statement.

    But Leslie Heimov, executive director of the Children's Law Center of Los Angeles, which represented the Longs' two children in the case, said the ruling did not change the law.

    "They just affirmed that the current California law, which has been unchanged since the last time it was ruled on in the 1950s, is that children have to be educated in a public school, an accredited private school, or with an accredited tutor," she said. "If they want to send them to a private Christian school, they can, but they have to actually go to the school and be taught by teachers."

    Heimov said her organization's chief concern was not the quality of the children's education, but their "being in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety."
    Online resources

    The ruling: To view the ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal, go to links.sfgate.com/ZCQR.
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    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    With all due respect to good teachers everywhere, it is a big fat assumption that "credentialed" teachers are better educators of any particular family's children than parents willing to do it themselves. Uncredentialed parents are teaching children at home at higher levels than the "professionals." This is such a horrible, regressive ruling, completely ignoring the successful alternative to government or expensive private schools that homeschooling has become. Keep the parents accountable and punish on a case by case, don't broad brush all homeschooling families as providing inadequate education California. Political garbage.

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    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    I've met a few people who were homeschooled and turned out OK -- but it still seems like a strange concept to me. My mother is pretty smart, but I doubt that she'd be a good authority on teaching science with her journalism degree.

    And thats not even getting into all the stuff you miss by never eating an awful school lunch, never being out on the playground for a nerf football game, and never playing games in class when your teacher was just too tired to work.
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    It always seemed oddly sheltering to me. I'm fairly intelligent. I couldn't imagine attempting to teach a broad range of topics though. Strong in math and science ...... always weak in history and other social sciences. Bad habits, age and the internet have killed much of my grammar skills.

    Odd to me but I don't really have a strong argument for/ against the right to do it.
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    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    I'm editing this to reflect the regional dialect:

    "At first, there was a sense of, 'Like ... no way.'"
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    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    Home schooling is a perfectly viable concept. I have worked with home schoolers for years who used the library as a resource for their activities, curriculum and for study materials. That said, some of them were just bonkers, people I wouldn't trust with a ferret, much less an impressionable mind.

    I think the appropriate way to regulate home schooling is to require kids to show proficiency of math, science, language arts, etc. Some states do, some don't.
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    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    Some of my relatives are school teachers. I definitely think home schooling is a good idea.

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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    Quote Originally Posted by traderumor View Post
    With all due respect to good teachers everywhere, it is a big fat assumption that "credentialed" teachers are better educators of any particular family's children than parents willing to do it themselves. Uncredentialed parents are teaching children at home at higher levels than the "professionals."
    The teachers were sending home every night with my kids tons of unfinished classroom lessons, and telling the kids to have your parents help you complete it. We were spending 2-3 hrs/night helping our kids with assignments that should have been completed in class.

    By the time we were done, my wife and I felt we had our teaching certificate and were, in essence, home schooling our kids.

    We also, a various times when two of our kids were in grades 1-6, had to pay for tutors to help our kids in such subjects as reading and math because the school said they were failing those subjects, not meeting the standards, and they didn't know what more they could do, and that WE needed to address the issue.

    A vast majority of those home schooled go through approved and credentialed programs designed by educators. Home schooled children, just like public schooled children, also have to pass standardized testing also. Some of my relatives home schooled their kids and I've seen/reviewed the programs. They are pretty solid.

    But not all are such, and it's those programs which do need to be investigated and some sort of oversight instituted.

    I have friends who are teachers in the public school system. I have nothing but the utmost respect for their job and what they have to do. They are underpaid IMO.

    The problem, for the most part, is not the teachers but the system (bureaucracy) they have to work under. IMHO, it's a mess. Here in Ohio they have the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT). You start to take it in your sophomore year and have six chances to pass it. The test consists of Reading, Math, Writing, Science and Social Studies sections. So all the teacher's curriculum is geared solely to the test and getting the student to pass it.

    It's part of the No Child Left Behind

    Here is the interesting part though, and this really upset me...

    What if your child doesn't pass the test by the time they are ready to graduate in their senior year? Tough. They don't get their diploma, and don't get to participate in the graduation ceremonies.

    No child left behind huh?


    This is such a horrible, regressive ruling, completely ignoring the successful alternative to government or expensive private schools that homeschooling has become. Keep the parents accountable and punish on a case by case, don't broad brush all homeschooling families as providing inadequate education California. Political garbage.
    Exactly. But it's a bigger issue them that tr. The public school system, for the most part, has been a monopoly that's never been tested. There were no other alternatives, other then sending your kid(s) to a private school.

    The growing home schooling programs has done that, and there are those within the public school system that don't like that one bit.
    Last edited by GAC; 03-09-2008 at 08:51 PM.
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    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post

    And thats not even getting into all the stuff you miss by never eating an awful school lunch, never being out on the playground for a nerf football game, and never playing games in class when your teacher was just too tired to work.
    Maybe, but schools are not the best place in the world for many, many kids. I have a son that is on the "high functioning" side of the autism spectrum. He is fine academically, but social situations are terrible for him. Unfortunately, because he is not a special education kid, the school doesn't have much they can do to meet their obligations under federal law. They are required to offer alternatives for kids like mine, but guess what, the most logical alternative may actually be an assigned home school teacher. Right now he is still in the classroom, but that may very well change in the next year.

    Now, you may say, "sure, but your kid has autism", but I would venture to say that many people who pull their kids out of school do so because they find that the social situations are leaving their kids with all sorts of other problems. In my experience with home schooled kids, I'd say that of those who are not home schooled for religious purposes, a substantial number are kids who have fallen into some category that the school just doesn't do well with. That could be kids like mine, or some with anxiety disorders, highly gifted kids, or those who are just delayed in some way.

    Schools are great with most kids, but not all of them.
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    Kmac5 KoryMac5's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    I would not have a problem with home schooling if the parents were still involved with some aspects of the school. After school activities, and sports are all important aspects of every childs learning experience. I would imagine if parents who home school children would become more involved in their districts by following lesson plans and involving their children in activities the schools would soften their stances.
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    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    Quote Originally Posted by SunDeck View Post
    Maybe, but schools are not the best place in the world for many, many kids. I have a son that is on the "high functioning" side of the autism spectrum. He is fine academically, but social situations are terrible for him. Unfortunately, because he is not a special education kid, the school doesn't have much they can do to meet their obligations under federal law. They are required to offer alternatives for kids like mine, but guess what, the most logical alternative may actually be an assigned home school teacher. Right now he is still in the classroom, but that may very well change in the next year.

    Now, you may say, "sure, but your kid has autism", but I would venture to say that many people who pull their kids out of school do so because they find that the social situations are leaving their kids with all sorts of other problems. In my experience with home schooled kids, I'd say that of those who are not home schooled for religious purposes, a substantial number are kids who have fallen into some category that the school just doesn't do well with. That could be kids like mine, or some with anxiety disorders, highly gifted kids, or those who are just delayed in some way.

    Schools are great with most kids, but not all of them.
    My son's also on the high functioning side of the autism spectrum, but our school system has a stellar program for him - in the classroom, helping him on the social side of the equation. The only downside is we're locked into where we live for the next eight years. PM me if you're interested in finding out more about how they run the program.

    I can definitely see where you might want to consider home schooling in that scenario.

    As for home schooling in general, I don't think there's any reason why a family shouldn't be able to make that choice. Yet when I taught at the collegiate level I had some home schooled students who were woefully underprepared. They couldn't write a lick and they melted down when they were informed their work needed dramatic improvement. The English department where I worked actually was looking to develop a remedial program specifically for home schooled kids because this was becoming a consistent problem (and because in Virginia home schooled kids were becoming a large market, the university didn't want to bounce all that tuition, room and board after a single semester).

    There was also a to-do about home schooling in Massachusetts 10 years ago. Home schooled kids were showing huge gaps in their learning. Yet the number of home schooled kids in the state was too small to justify any sort of bureaucratic solution so it went nowhere.
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    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    I could never do it. Lack of qualifications aside, when I have kids they're going to be spending a certain amount of their day away from me so they can have a portion of their lives all to themselves and figure out some stuff on their own. My personality dictates that a certain amount of independence and privacy is vital for development -- both my future kids' and my own. That said, I see no problem with it if kids are able to show proper educational progress. I think it's a shame if parents have to do it for the sole reason that the schools aren't capable of educating the kids properly, as has been referenced above. I understand it given sheer numbers, I guess, but I still think it's a shame.
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    Resident optimist OldRightHander's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    That's California for you. Always the leader in completely insane over-regulation.

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    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    I thought of doing it at one point. Math, Science, History, etc...no problem. Some other stuff...not so good.

    Time is major constraint and the fact that my wife can't support both of us.
    The alternative: try to live in the best school district possible (or private school).

    So much for the "right" to education. (It's a joke...ok...let's not get starte on that).
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    Re: Court: parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children

    I think it would be easy teaching a kid if it was first to fifth or sixth grade. After that I'd be completly lost. I'd feel like one of those people on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader. Some of these kids now are really smart. I don't know if there's any qualification program you have to go through to homeschool your kids, but it should be very hard. As has been pointed out earlier, homeschooling is leaving some kids behind, with more to makeup at the collegiate level.
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