When Justice H. Walter Croskey ruled that “California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” he set off a firestorm of protests from homeschooling parents and organizations, not only throughout the state but throughout the country — and rightly so.

What right has any court or government to reach inside of a home and determine how, when or where the children will be educated? They should have have no legal right to do that as long as a child is not being physically or emotionally abused or is not being denied a descent education.

The irony of this situation that has suddenly and almost totally banned homeschooling is that it started because some of the children in this particular case that was under review alleged that they were indeed being physically and emotionally abused.

Read the “Background of the Case” from the February 28th decision issued by the California Court of Appeal:

A Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 petition was filed on behalf of three minor children after the eldest of them reported physical and emotional mistreatment by the children’s father.

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services investigated the situation and discovered, among other things, that all eight of the children in the family had been home schooled by the mother rather than educated in a public or private school. The attorney representing the younger two children asked the juvenile court to
order that the children be enrolled in a public or private school. The dependency court
declined to make such an order despite the court’s opinion that the home schooling the
children were receiving was ‘lousy,’ ‘meager,’ and ‘bad,’ and despite the court’s
opinion that keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they
could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide
help if something is amiss in the children’s lives, and (3) they could develop
emotionally in a broader world than the parents’ “cloistered” setting.

As noted above, the court ruled that the parents have a constitutional right to home school the children. From that ruling the attorney for the younger children seeks extraordinary writ relief.”

It appears that in this particular situation the intrusion of the court into the homeschooling situation may have been warranted — because of the allegations of abuse. It appears that this situation may have had parents holding their children captives from society for their own purposes.

This ‘throws some water’ on some of the outrage that has resulted from this decision — but the decision as a whole, which states that: “California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” is an outrage.

Had the original court that heard this case acted responsibly and had forced this one family to recify what was apparently an unacceptable homeschooling situation there most likely would have been no appeal and no chance for the Court of Appeal to make this decision that now effects ALL homeschoolers in the state.

Relief, however, may be on the way. Last week the 2nd District Court of Appeal put their decision on hold and granted a rehearing, some time in April after briefs have been filed. This gives homeschooling parents and organizations a chance to have their voices heard.

It may turn out in the end that California law does, indeed, ban homeschooling except by credentialled teachers; to quote the Charles Dicken’s character Mr. Bumble: “If the law supposes that, then the law is an ass.” Laws can, and in this case probably will be, changed. The state certainly has a responsibility to protect children from irresponsible parents, but they certainly have no right to assume that all parents are irresponsible.

News Links:

Philidelphia Evening Bulletin: California Rules Homeschooling Now A Crime

San Jose Mercury News: Court to reconsider home-school ruling

Blog Links:

Digital Diatribes of a Random Idiot: An Update on the Goings-on in the California Home School Controversy of 2008

Just Enough and Nothing More: CA Homeschool Joint Press Release and More

Whymrhymer’s P.O.V. can also be found at the My View from the Center at the American Chronicle.

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