Butte County Supt. on Homeschooling

This article from the county next door is worrisome:

“McNelis said the ruling would not apply to students in independent study programs, such as Hearthstone School or Core Butte Charter School, where a fully credentialed teacher is assigned to every student and drives instruction.

In those models, teachers meet with their students at least once every two weeks to review work and make assignments. The students have to meet the same standards and testing required of all public school students.

McNelis said he believed most districts offered an independent study model similar to the county office of education’s.

But he said the ruling addresses a different group of students entirely — those who have never been in school and are taught exclusively by parents without a teacher’s oversight.

‘It’s usually a mom and pop who think they want to educate their children themselves,’ he explained.

The number of children in home schooling is hard to estimate because families with fewer than six children don’t have to register them, he said.

‘Legally kids have to be in school, but if they never were in school, we have no way of knowing,’ he continued.”

What can we learn from this? The first thing we learn is that the media is going to put school administrators on the spot: they will be asked directly about how they intend to enforce this ruling. They will not be able to ignore it, as many would probably like to do, but will have to take a stand of some kind – right now. This is not encouraging.

The second thing is that – if enforcement is up to them – administrators are prepared to give existing charter schools some slack. The system is already established, and it would be tough for them to admit that they goofed on their interpretation of the law. I view this as good news: charter schools could give homeschoolers who are not in the system a temporary option while they are preparing to get out of California.

It is becoming clear to me that homeschoolers in California cannot afford to wait for the courts to sort this thing out. With last week’s decision in their legal arsenal, local authorities now have everything they need to go after homeschooled children for ADA money.

California home educators need legislation, and we need it today.


Time Magazine on “Criminalizing Home Schoolers”:

“Parents of the approximately 200,000 home-schooled children in California are reeling from the possibility that they may have to shutter their classrooms — and go back to school themselves — if they want to continue teaching their own kids. On Feb. 28, Judge H. Walter Croskey of the Second District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles ruled that children ages six to 18 may be taught only by credentialed teachers in public or private schools — or at home by Mom and Dad, but only if they have a teaching degree …”

4 thoughts on “Butte County Supt. on Homeschooling

  1. Jeff –

    As far as you know, does the ruling carve out any kind of exceptions for kids who are registered with an accredited homeschooling program, such as Seton or Kolbe? Because we use Seton, our kids are technically registered with an accredited school and receive report cards, transcripts, etc. They don’t actually meet with the teachers, but the teachers are always there for consultation.


  2. No, Chris, it does not. The ruling specifically states that a certified teacher must be teaching in the home: no exceptions. On that point I believe that Don McNelis is factually incorrect.


  3. Jeff-do you need legislation? Is there recourse in the CA constitution? For instance, in MA with the homosexual marriage, Governor Romney had the constitutional power to vacate the courts decision because the constitution did not give them competence to rule in that area. (Unfortunatley, the courts in MA are so powerful, Gov. R didn’t have the guts or maybe the interest in challenging them.)

    Maybe there is recourse by the executive branch in CA also.

    We’ll be praying….


  4. Jim, I do believe we need legislation. So far as I know the California constitution does not protect us. Depublishing this ruling will just return us to the vulnerable position we were in three weeks ago.

    Homeschoolers have benefited for 20 years because the state ed code does not define “private school” in terms that specifically exclude homeschooling – but that is the extent of it.

    I say we need legislation, but the best thing would be for the Supreme Court to rule that homeschooling is definitely permissible under the state’s provision for private schools. I doubt this will happen, however.

    Thank you for your prayers!


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