Sunday, March 09, 2008

California homeschooling parents scared

The recent court ruling in California has been a shock to legal groups such as HSLDA as well as California homeschooling parents. Essentially the judges say that unless a child goes away from home to school he or she is legally truant.

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 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.

"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.

"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.

Training is for dogs and horses, not for children. How could these judges assume that homeschooled children are not taught to be good citizens? Their parents don't vote? They don't call on their state representatives to support legislation? They don't have any desire to serve their country? What rot!

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."

The teacher's unions want NO competition, no free market, no accountability at all. At first they pull in new members by scaring young teachers about the promise of legal counsel in case of lawsuit-happy parents, and then use their huge bargaining power to influence politicians and judges so as to eliminate any threat from their monopoly in the market.

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute... 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.

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."

The public school system will not allow Bill Gates to teach computer science, a physician to teach biology, a engineer to teach mathematics, or a published historian to teach US History because they don't have a teaching certificate from a college or university. No exceptions. A degree costs about $15,000 to obtain, most of which is wasted in classes that teach theory, child development, and classroom management. Education programs usually attract the least intelligent students, because it is so easy. However, they are not stupid since teaching is an almost guaranteed job for life with good pay. (I did obtain a Masters in Education (3.78 GPA), but am proud that I have a real undergraduate degree. While teaching I was amazed at how many public school teachers had to retake the National Teachers Exam, which is so easy I scored well above average. I also admit I don't consider myself all that intelligent partly 'cause I quit earning the big bucks to teach my own children.)

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." (link to article)

Yet again, these judges blatantly show that the purpose of spending billions each year to school children is not to give them an education, but to warehouse them so parents can work, to oversee them to observe neglect or abuse, and to indoctrinate them into being mindless workers and consumers.

This is the reply of Homeschool Association of California to the calls of many worried parents. In other words, "we are doing the best we can, just sit tight." (h/t to Danielle Bean)


Lorri said...

I've been watching this case because of the impact it could have on the rest of the country. It looks like the governor is ready to oppose this ruling with legislation protecting parental rights to educate their children.

I agree with most of your opinions. I thought it was particularly amusing that the teachers' unions applauding this decision. Of course they did!

However, I have to object to this statement: "Education programs usually attract the least intelligent students, because it is so easy." I know several teachers and in no way would I characterize them as being less intelligent than any one else. I know they would be offended at the suggestion that they chose their career because obtaining the required degree was "easy." I had to take one education class in pursuit of my bachelor's degree. The education majors I met there were bright and motivated and actually more dedicated towards the pursuit of their degree than I was. I think it's unfair to label credentialed teachers or soon to be teachers as "the least intelligent." The problems with our public schools are systemic and the teachers are (with exception) doing the best they can in far less than ideal situations.

kat said...

I'm not saying all public school teachers are stupid. Several family members were/are teachers and I taught in the schools for several years. My aunt was a fantastic science teacher and department head in NOVA. But it is documented that college students with lower SAT scores are in higher proportions in Education majors. Also, if you go into most public schools you will find teachers who don't know basic history, science, English, or mathematics. There was even a recent story in the news about a long time teacher who couldn't read. Parents have a much deeper need and desire to teach their children than any government employee, no matter how dedicated they may be. My biggest push for homeschooling was from my experiences teaching in the public schools.

Ellen said...

I agree with you (mostly) on the California thing - but I am halfway through a special ed. degree. It's not easy and I am far from unintelligent (at least the IQ test say so). A teaching degree is a five-year degree in most states (not a four-year like many subjects) and you must immediately begin a Master's program.

In California specifically, I know a couple who homeschooled their child his entire life. They were registered as a private school and they were not credentialed teachers.

What has happened is not so much that anything has changed, but rather that one couple has nearly ruined it for everybody.

1) the person doing the teaching didn't even graduate from high school
2) there were complaints of abuse by one of the children
3) they were not registered as a private school (this is a common requirement for homeschoolers)
4) the children were registered in a charter academy but NOT attending

In paragraph form, this family was being taught by a high school dropout, using the charter academy as a smoke screen for not registering as home schoolers with the state, thereby having no accountability whatsoever, and all of this in the face of abuse charges.

IF they had followed the guidelines for home school accountability (I've read Elena's lesson plans, record books and bookkeeping - this is following the guidelines), IF they had EITHER taken the homeschool route OR the charter school route (not pretending to take the charter school route, thus avoiding accountability in the home school route), and IF the abuse charge had not been present, things might have been different.

One irresponsible family is risking the process for everybody. Don't blame the state - blame the family who chose not to play by the rules. The worst thing the state can be blamed for is for not updating its laws to accomodate the growing number of homeschoolers - it is not that they are addressed to make things harder, it's that they are not addressed at all. This case MAY bring that problem to the forefront and it MAY actually come out in favor of homeschoolers, giving them a structure in which to work that is now lacking.

(also blame the press, who - as usual - didn't fully explain what was going on, in order to print a more inflamatory and politically correct story) ;-)

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Hi, Kat.

I have a few comments, but first, I really don't think that your choice to stay home and raise your children yourself is a sign of lack of intelligence. Making big bucks? As a teacher? Feh. But you are making lives good for your kids. That will last longer than the money.

Secondly, do pay attention to the context of this case. The parents had not followed either of two routes for homeschooling according to the (rather confusing) California legal code. They also had numerous run-ins with the California version of DCFS for nearly twenty years, due to substantiated allegations of abuse. Although the judge went further than he ought in his remarks in the decision, this was not a homeschooling case, it was a child abuse case. The judge was almost certainly wrong about the issue of licensed personnel, because private schools in CA may employ people without teaching degrees.

Although we certainly ought to be concerned about the judge's decision, I do not think this family is the best representative for a lawsuit about homeschooling.