California Home Schooling Furore Deflated

Read all the way to the bottom before getting too cheesed off.

An appeals court judge from California has ruled, in an unnecessary expansion of the case, that Californians have no constitutional right to homeschool their children.

“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.”

The case was brought because Los Angeles suspected Philip and Mary Long of child abuse.

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.

But instead of ruling that the children were being abused, or not, based on the merits of the case, the court went after the home schooling angle.

Now let’s investigate constitutional rights to home schooling. It goes back to the foundational documents of the United States. Look at the 9th and 10th Amendments of the Constitution.

[Amendment IX]
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
[Amendment X]
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

That pretty much says it all. Rights not enumerated are retained by the people, to whom they were granted by the Creator. And powers that the Constitution failed to give to the federal government are retained by the states and the people thereof. In other words, it is never safe to assume that the government has a power without some law that grants the government that power, and it is always correct to assume that in the absence of a law an individual has rights.

James Madison, who wrote the Constitution, would have been astonished at a court’s ruling that there was no Constitutional right to home schooling. He was the result of home schooling himself, where (if I recall correctly) he learned Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and the classics. He went on to Princeton after his home schooling and completed the four year program in two years, so home schooling seems not to have hurt him.

On the other hand, we have the Long children in this case.

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. […]

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.”

Heimov apparently believes, and certainly stated in plain English, that parents do not have a duty to ensure the ongoing safety of their children. Yet school teachers who spend all year teaching to the NCLB tests instead of actually teaching good books, mathematics, history, languages, and all the other things that children deserve to be able to learn, and thereby keep the test scores just high enough so they don’t get in trouble, without getting them up so high that other teachers look bad, care. They care. They care about following the IEPs that prevent them from disciplining children who don’t behave and about mainstreaming kids who will never learn. They spend all year helping the stragglers catch up and treat the kids who get it like troublemakers. They care.

Though some teachers care, many do not. On the other hand, though some parents don’t care, many do. The vast majority do care, do love their children, do want the best for them, would go to almost any length for them. That’s the kind of caring that children need, not the caring provided by a government employee who gets to work at 9 and goes home at 5 (or like a teacher, gets to work at 7 and leaves by 3).

Are there bad parents? Yes. It is possible the Longs could be bad parents, but that does not mean that any child, whether James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, or the Long children, should be forced to go to a public school in Los Angeles. The child abuse hinted at in the article should have been proved on its own, without bringing home schooling into it.

Also being discussed by Dr. James Dobson, Brown Pelican Society, Wake Up America.

Gabriel Malor brings the buzzkill on the furore.

Under California law, attendance at a full-time day public school is compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 18. Parents wanting to take their kids out of the public schools must do so under one of the exceptions provided by the California Education Code. For the purposes of home schooling they are: § 48222 Attendance in private school or § 48224 Instruction by credentialed tutor. (There are other exceptions for short-term child actors, the mentally gifted, or leaves of absences, but they are not appropriate for homeschoolers.)

So, generally, parents have three options for educating their kids in California: (1) public school; (2) private school; or (3) credentialed tutor. This is not as bad for homeschoolers as it looks. To be a private school in California, all the parent has to do is be “capable of teaching” the required subjects in the English language and offer instruction in the same “branches of study” required to be taught in the public schools. They also have to keep a register of enrollment at their “school” and a record of attendance. Once a year they have to file an affidavit with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction with things like their names and address, the names of the students and their addresses, a criminal background check (since we don’t want unsupervised felons teaching kids), and their attendance register. That’s it.

In the Longs’ case, they attempted to claim that their children were enrolled in a “valid charter school” and that the school was supervising the mothers’ instruction in the home. It is unclear from the court’s opinion, but it looks like the parents tried to argue that the children were enrolled in a public school (since all charter schools in California are public schools). But since they obviously couldn’t meet any of the attendance requirements for public schools*, the court also examined the question of whether the parents were credentialed. Since they obviously aren’t, the court kicked it back to the lower court to order them to “enroll their children in a public full-time day school, or a legally qualified private full-time day school.” It looks like the parents never bothered to argue that they were running their own private school in compliance with § 48222.

So all the parents have to do is to get their act together as a private school, take attendance, and teach their kids at home.

I feel deflated. And glad that things aren’t as bad as they seemed, thanks to the sloppy reporting of the papers.

It sounds to me like the Longs are one of those no-schooling families, who are really a worthless perversion of the home school movement. And it seems that the father has a bad temper and should learn to control himself.


Trackposted to Diary of the Mad Pigeon, Rosemary’s Thoughts, Nuke Gingrich, third world county, Woman Honor Thyself, 123beta, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, The World According to Carl, Pirate’s Cove, Blue Star Chronicles, The Pink Flamingo, The Amboy Times, Wolf Pangloss, Right Voices, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.