By now, most of you are aware of last week’s surprise decision by a California Court of Appeals effectively banning homeschooling in this state, with the sole exception of those children who are taught in the home by a state-credentialed teacher. California has between 166,000 and 200,000 homeschooled children (the smaller number is an official count from 2000, the latter a current estimate) – more than any other state in the union, amounting to approximately 13% of all homeschooled students nationwide.
California homeschoolers are very active and well-organized. Many homeschool groups will be involved in fighting this. The Virgina-based Home School Legal Defense Association and California’s Pacific Justice Institute will be assisting with an appeal to the California Supreme Court. HSLDA is asking California homeschoolers to sign this petition to depublish the decision, which they say is a critical component of the overall strategy. Our own California-based curriculum provider, Mother of Divine Grace, is urging all California members to sign the petition and to join HSLDA if they haven’t already done so.
A correspondent from the Pacific Justice Institute has assured me that, even if the Supreme Court upholds the decision, the battle will move to the legislative and direct initiative process. I am confident that ultimately homeschooling will remain legal in California. What is less certain is the status of homeschooling between now and a future resolution. The example of Texas should give Californians pause: today, the state of Texas has arguably the best homeschooling situation in the country, but 80 families were criminally prosecuted before the legal status of homeschooling was finally resolved.
Steve Skojec alerted me to this article in the San Francisco Chronicle. In reading the more than 800 (update: now 943 and growing) comments, two things come to mind: 1) there is likely to be an all-out war in California over this; 2) the good guys will probably win. What surprised me was not the anti-homeschooling sentiment, which anyone who knows San Francisco would reasonably expect. No, what surprised me is how many secular, non-religious, non-homeschooling readers of a San Francisco daily are friends of homeschooling and defenders of the rights of parents. Mainstream California is not very devout, but it does have a libertarian streak and that will probably tip the scales.
In response, the California State Department of Education has issued the following statement:
“State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell supports parental choice when it comes to home schooling, but wants every child in the state to receive a high-quality education whether the setting is public, private or in the home so he or she will be well prepared to succeed in the competitive global economy.”
“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.”
It’s nice to have the Governator on our side for a change.
I don’t know what we would do if homeschooling were criminalized in California. Leaving this beautiful state would break my heart, but if the government comes after my kids we’ll be out of here fast. Acquiring teaching credentials ourselves would be a pain in the neck, but as a long-term solution it is not out of the question.