CA (anti) homeschooling news

After treating patients for 15 years, Kathy Adams Morgan hung up her stethoscope to educate her daughter full time at their Point Loma home.Eight years later, Morgan has no regrets. It’s easy to see why.

At 13, Jenny scores high on standardized tests and balances academics with organized sports, Girl Scouts, dance – and the ever-important teenage social life.

But according to a recent state appellate court ruling, it is illegal for Morgan – and the thousands of California parents who home-school their children – to teach without credentials.

“Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children,” wrote Justice H. Walter Croskey in a Feb. 28 opinion signed by the two other members of the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

The ruling has rattled home-school families in San Diego County and throughout California. It is the subject of much speculation on the blogs, Web sites and networks that link thousands of home-schoolers statewide.

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10 thoughts on “CA (anti) homeschooling news

  1. COD

    You should have checked with me before posting this 😉

    HSing has always been illegal in CA. CA only recognizes charter schools and private schools. There are umbrella schools that allow HSers to “enroll” and never show up, but that is technically a violation of the law, even though it is rarely enforced. You can set up your home as a private school, but that requires registration with state. So no judge has suddenly declared homeschooling illegal in CA. He is simply enforcing the existing law.

    Also, the family in question here has a long history of confrontations with child and family services. 2 years ago their 14 year old daughter ran away TO THE POLICE DEPT to try and get help. She eventually ended up in foster care after allegations against her father of physical abuse and neglect. It’s a sad sad story and forcing the kids into school only protects them for those hours a day when they are there.

    The family tried to hide behind homeschool laws that simply don’t exist in CA. The judge called them on that, so now they are crying religious discrimination. The state is not the bad guy in this case. The kids in that family do need some protection from their parents.

  2. pduggie

    It does seem that CA has a muddle of homeschool law that means they’ve been winking at homeschools calling themselves “small private schools”.

    Forbidding uncredentialled homeschooling is certainly overkill for taking care of difficult abuse situations.

  3. mark Post author

    On the particular family, no one is protecting them. I’ve read some pretty vehement stuff (which led me to look for a more mainstream source) but even the most over-the-top press release I found completely conseded that the family in question had lost the exercise of its right to home school.

    However, the ruling, in showing that homeschooling is illegal, does demonstrate that the Left Coast has a real totalitatian impulse. So, no surprise, I still think the state is the bad guy.

    And if this is an occasion for California to get its law changed, I’m all for it. Back in 1999 Buffy assured her mom that homeschooling was not just for religious weirdos any more. I would think that has only improved in the last few years. I don’t see left-coasters putting up with that sort of intrusion.

  4. Jim

    I know there are some non-left coast states that also require students to attend schools with state-credentialed teachers, and so implicitly forbid homeschooling by non-state credentialed parents.

    While I think the laws should be off the books, in this circumstance I wonder if CA actually has a policy of benign neglect, unless there is something else at work. I wonder if this is sort of like going after Al Capone based on income-tax evasion. Just like the feds weren’t really interested in Capone’s income tax, CA isn’t really interested in the fact that these folks are home schooling — it’s just a quick way of dealing with a family situation of concern.

  5. COD

    Background court document

    More recent ruling

    CA law absolutely allows you to claim a private school with enrollment of 1. It’s one form that must be completed annually. Do that and you have no problems. Private schools teachers are not held to public school teacher certification requirements in CA, or any other state AFAIK. This family was “enrolled” in a Christian school that the kids never went to. A technical violation that is rarely enforced in CA and probably was in this case to give the state some authority to protect the kids in question.

    And again, this is family with a long and well documented history of child abuse issues. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck… I’m sort of mystified as to why HSLDA is making an issue of this case as they usually avoid child abuse related cases.

    I homeschool in a state other than CA, but from what I understand the homeschool activists in CA are generally happy with the status quo. They can homeschool at the price of a completing a form once per year. As one HSing friend in CA put it, the most difficult part is coming up with a catchy name for your “private school.”

  6. pduggie

    Well it seems kinda like getting Al Capone on tax evasion, and Al capone was not paying sales tax on items bought out of state, and now the huge numbers of OTHER people doing the same thing are worried about being caught.

    I’m reminded of the recent bit on boingboing about a Quaker being fired from her state university job in CA for modifying her LOYALTY OATH

    the civil liberty voluptuaries at boingboing were shocked at the fact that CA even has loyalty oaths for public employees.

    FWIW, her affirming instead of swearing isn’t probably the issue as much as her adding “defend nonviolently” (and crossing out “swear”)

  7. pentamom

    And we know how well having credentialed teachers in regulated, government run schools guarantees that no child is miseducated or abused.

    I’m not saying this particular family’s situation didn’t merit some sort of intervention, but it’s in no way a logical response to claim that the lack of a teaching certificate on the part of the parents is the root issue here. Of course I doubt that the judge would actually come out and say that, but the logic of his ruling is that teaching certificates prevent abuse and ensure proper education. Is there any evidence of that? Even favorable statistics pointing in that direction? (Hint: no.)

    I think HSLDA is making an issue out of this not because the family “deserves” defending, but because the state’s method of dealing with the situation puts other parents in jeopardy. Even if there’s a workaround within the law, a judge encouraging school officials to crack down and not accept what has previously been a legitimate workaround can only work to harm of the freedom of homeschoolers in CA. It doesn’t help freedom if school officials are encouraged to believe they have rights of regulation, even if you can beat them in court every time. Families are less free if they are under the specter of having to go to court to prove the legitimacy of a legitimate practice, because someone is encouraging school officials to believe it isn’t legitimate.

  8. Jim Irwin

    Well put, Pentamom!

    I once lived in the 4th Reich of Cahliforneeha. And it is quite typical of the state government and its minions, I mean social services to run amok.

  9. homeschoolerCA

    Well,yes,it is true that you ‘can’ homeschool in CA with the filing of an affadavit,and it’s quite easy. I’ve done it. However,the real issue is that states ‘allow’ one to homeschool their child. This is the issue that we should all be debating-what led to the state owning our children? SS#’s,Birth Certificates and other forms which forfeited our sovereign individuality. In this regard,the judge does seem to be simply reiterating the existing law: The state as guardians require us to let them know that we are homeschooling.
    I think that rather than getting all melodramatic and up-in-arms,homeschoolers should continue to push for legitimate rights. In the end,this CA ruling will be appealed-even Arnold said as much himself,calling it outrageous.
    However,I do agree with the comment that the status quo in CA currently is good for me as a homeschooler-and that the hardest part is indeed coming up with the name for one’s private school.


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