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The landmark case to decide whether home education in California is legal or illegal, has taken another turn. Oral arguments have been heard, and we are waiting on a ruling to determine whether parental rights will be upheld, or be threatened. This case has the potential to set a nation-wide precedent for homeschooling freedoms. The possible aftershocks that could result if home education is, in effect, ruled illegal, are widespread, so we must follow this closely.

I urge you not to take the  “I’m glad that it is THERE, and not HERE” attitude. Do not allow yourself to slip into complacency merely because this is not as much “big” news, as it was back in March. Know this. Whichever way the ruling goes will have an impact upon the homeschooling community at large, and we must remain watchful that it does not damage the rights we now have, that were won at a large cost to many families. You can read more below.

The source for this article can be found at the following location:

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=67859

The update follows below:

 Homeschool advocates fight for parental rights
Oral arguments heard to decide fate of California educational choice

Posted: June 23, 2008
10:12 pm Eastern

© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Oral arguments were heard today in the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles, with the fate of homeschooling in California at stake.

As WND reported earlier, the court’s decision four months ago to compel two homeschooled children to attend a public or qualifying private school effectively stated that parents held neither a statutory right nor a constitutional right to provide homeschooling for their own children.

After much public and political outcry, the appeal court agreed to revisit its prior ruling.

Michael Farris, chairman and co-founder of the Homeschooling Legal Defense Association, was one of many attorneys from several organizations urging the court to reconsider, and he presented the day’s final argument.

“Anybody that claims they know which way the court will decide would be wrong,” Farris told WND.

“The judges asked very hard, pointed questions,” he said. “There was no indication that they thought their prior ruling was wrong.”

Specifically, Farris said, the judges asked why they should permit homeschooling when California changed the law to withdraw it from the statutes in the early 1900s.

Attorneys advocating homeschooling argued that when California in 1967 added the singular word “person” to the list of those that can operate a legitimate private school, it opened the door for homeschooling. “If a person can provide education, if one person can operate a school,” argued the attorneys, “then why not a parent?”

“Their questions were about the 1910s; our answer was from the 1960s,” Farris told WND.

Furthermore, said Farris, “I argued that the California constitution requires the state to encourage all education. It’s the court’s duty, rather than banning education, to encourage it.”

He also urged the judges to take into account the thousands of people who have implied from the 1967 law that homeschooling is permissible “and not willy-nilly overturn that practice.”

An estimated 166,000 children are being homeschooled in California, and their parents and advocates have expressed concern that the court’s original ruling would leave parents who educate their children at home open to criminal truancy charges and civil charges for child neglect.

Some grounds for that concern may come from the appeal court’s first ruling, where it said the trial court had found 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.”

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, a parental rights advocacy organization involved in the case, told WND earlier, “We are looking forward to this opportunity to defend the thousands of families who are making sacrifices to teach their children at home. The state should be applauding, not threatening, these families,” he said.

Though he expressed concern over which way the judges would decide, Farris told WND, “We hope that the court reverses its decision and restores homeschool freedom to California.”

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The court order made against homeschooling in the state of California has now been vacated. Now the court will be hearing more on behalf of home educators. Any previous decisions or rulings made in this case are now not binding upon parents desiring to teach their children, including the requirement of a teaching credential. I believe this is a big step in the right direction, but that we need to watch and see what the future outcome is going to be. As positive as we may feel about this development, we need to stay tuned in to this matter faithfully to preserve our parental rights. We cannot be lax, we must take our responsibility seriously, and not be afraid to do the “heavy lifting”, when our children’s well-beings are at stake. You can read more about this turn of events here:
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=59979

The article follows:

California homeschooling gets 2nd chance
Court vacates ban, grants rehearing in controversial case
Posted: March 26, 2008
10:42 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily
A California court order that essentially banned homeschooling in the state has been vacated, and the judges who issued the ruling will hear further arguments on the status of parents who want to teach their own children.

WND broke the story in February of an appeals court order in Los Angeles against the family of Phillip and Mary Long.

The Longs say they have homeschooled because of an anti-Christian bias in public schools. The ruling stemmed from a juvenile proceeding that already had been closed by the court when court-appointed attorneys for their children appealed in an attempt to ban homeschooling. The ruling from Appeals Court Judge H. Walt Croskey granted the attorneys’ wishes.

The court ruling said: “We find no reason to strike down the Legislature’s evaluation of what constitutes an adequate education scheme sufficient to promote the ‘general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence. … We agree … ‘the educational program of the State of California was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education.'”

The appeals ruling said California law requires “persons between the ages of six and 18” to be in school, “the public full-time day school,” with exemptions being allowed for those in a “private full-time day school” or those “instructed by a tutor who holds a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught.”

The decision sent shock waves through the homeschooling community across the nation, and a variety of groups jumped into action, including the Home School Legal Defense Association, which worked with other groups on a petition for rehearing before the same court.

The petition was submitted by Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation to the 2nd Appellate District Division on behalf of the Longs.

In an announcement today, the HSLDA said the petition had been granted.

“The California Court of Appeal granted a motion for rehearing in the In re Rachel L. case – the controversial decision which purported to ban all homeschooling in that state unless the parents held a teaching license qualifying them to teach in public schools,” the HSLDA said in a statement.

“The automatic effect of granting this motion is that the prior opinion is vacated and is no longer binding on any one, including the parties in the case,” HSLDA said.

“The Court of Appeal has solicited a number of public school establishment organizations to submit amicus briefs including the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and three California teacher unions. The court also granted permission to Sunland Christian School to file an amicus brief. The order also indicates that it will consider amicus applications from other groups,” HSLDA said.

“Home School Legal Defense Association will seek permission to file such an amicus brief and will coordinate efforts with a number of organizations interest[ed] in filing briefs to support the right of parents to homeschool their children in California,” the group said.

“This is a great first step,” noted Michael Farris, chairman of HSLDA. “We are very glad that this case will be reheard and that this opinion has been vacated, but there is no guarantee as to what the ultimate outcome will be. This case remains our top priority.”

A long list of homeschool groups working in the state previously released a statement on the issue that could affect 200,000 students. Joining were the California Homeschool Network, Christian Home Educators Association of California, Private and Home Educators of California and HomeSchool Association of California.

“We are united in the goal of protecting the right of parents to teach their children private at home without additional governmental interference,” the statement said. “We believe that children deserve to learn in the environment that best meets their individual needs. We support the right of parents to direct their children’s education including, if they desire, teaching their children privately at home apart from any public school program and without a teaching credential.”

The groups also described the appeals court ruling as “excessively broad” and concluded the previously interpretation of state law, under which parents are allowed to set up a private school and teach their own children in their own homes, is accurate.

The HSLDA had sought to have the court “de-publish” the opinion, which also would limited its impact. But the ruling has attracted some attention from the highest levels.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president has supported homeschoolers in the past.

“I’m sure it [the ruling] will probably be appealed, and then we’ll see how it goes from there,” she said.

Among the other responses have been:

Assemblyman Joel Anderson has proposed a resolution in the California Legislature that calls for the Croskey ruling to be overturned.
Gov. Schwarzenegger said, “if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights, then, as elected officials, we will.”
California Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said, “Parents still have the right to homeschool in this state.”
A separate petition appeals to Schwarzenegger and the Legislature is being run by the Pacific Justice Institute, which is working with the website PetitionsToday.org.
And yet another petition also is under way, at the ReverseTheRuling.com website. That organization offers information for homeschoolers who want to follow the California case, because of that state’s influence throughout the nation. It was assembled by the organization Learning By Grace, an outreach dedicated to providing parents with innovative online Christian homeschool materials.
Even students are getting their say.

“The court cannot ‘make’ something illegal – that’s the legislature’s job. Sheesh!” wrote Jon Chi Lou, of Heritage Christian High School.

And Hye-Sung F. Gehring added, “This is ridiculous. California is retarded. Always has been.”

The HSLDA also is suggesting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifically recognizing parental rights. That effort already is under way under the banner of Parental Rights.

Pacific Justice also is representing Sunland Christian School, which has been working with the family’s children in a study program, on an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

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Home education is a hot topic in the media these days, as it has been for some time, particularly due to the recent court ruling in California regarding parental rights to homeschool their children. I have been trying to stay abreast of all that has been occuring and the response to it so that I can share what I find with you here and help us all to be aware of what is going on in this important matter. My husband let me know that homeschooling was a topic today on the Diane Rehm Show, a radio program. Here is the link: http://www.wamu.org/audio/dr/08/03/r2080324-19493.asx

Topics that were discussed included the following:

  • parental rights to educate their children
  • homeschool regulation
  • constitutional rights
  • homeschool success
  • reasons to homeschool
  • homeschool statistics

This discussion featured guests including a mother who has homeschooled for 14 years, an HSLDA representative, and a Stanford professor. Although I would personally rather have heard from a parent who represents the more typical homeschooler at large, I was happy that they chose someone with many years of home education under their belt, and a seemingly decent understanding of what is at stake for other homeschool families.

It was a mixed bag of an interview, with many differing viewpoints. It was not as balanced as I would prefer, as it had a fairly liberal tilt, but attempts were made to represent both sides of the issues, which I appreciate. What concerned me the most was the emphasis that was placed upon regulating home education more closely. The only real dissenter to this idea was the HSLDA representative, even the interviewed homeschool mother seemed in favor of some regulation. We do not need more stipulations and requirements. We need our rights as parent’s to educate our children protected. The potential precedent and resulting controversy of the California ruling has the potential to be the spring-board upon which more regulation is forced upon us. Which is why I will continue to keep close tabs on this issue, even after the media frenzy has slowed or subsided.

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Since the recent court ruling made in California that threatens the freedom to homeschool, many pro-homeschooling advocates have spoken up in an effort to protect parental rights. Now members of Congress are deciding what response they may have in this matter. Many are concerned and upset by the court decision and looking for how they can address this important issue. Here is the latest on what may end up being a landmark battle for parental freedom and the ability to choose how to educate and raise your own children. You can find this article here:
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=58872

LAW OF THE LAND
Congress outraged by California homeschool case
‘There are a variety of things being considered’

——————————————————————————–
Posted: March 13, 2008
10:12 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily
Members of Congress privately are infuriated and worried over a California appeals court ruling that essentially banned homeschooling in the state, where at least 166,000 students are being educated that way, according to a homeschooling expert who has met with them.

“There’s a lot of concern and outrage from members of Congress,” Michael Farris, the chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, told WND today, shortly after he met with several members on this issue.

“There’s a variety of things being considered,” he said. “There could be a brief by members filed in the appellate court in support of parental rights. There could be a resolution from Congress there.”

Plans still were being developed, he said. But the ultimate resolution, Farris suggested, would be an amendment to the U.S. Constitution recognizing the rights and responsibilities of parents to direct their own children’s education.
That effort already was under way under the banner of Parental Rights.

The website notes the campaign exists “to secure a constitutional amendment that defends the rights of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children. … We believe that no government, regardless of how well-intentioned it might be, can replace the love and nurture of a parent in the life of a child.”

The campaign said, “Without secured parental rights, the vital child-parent relationship is exposed to the imminent danger posed by anti-parent judges within the federal courts, as well as to the risks of international law which seeks to undermine the parental role.”

The California case involved the family of Phillip and Mary Long, and stemmed from a juvenile proceeding. That case already had been closed by the court when court-appointed attorneys for their children appealed specifically trying to have homeschooling banned, and the ruling from the Court of Appeal for the 2nd Appellate District in Los Angeles essentially met their desires.

The opinion, by H. Walt Croskey, holds that homeschooling simply is not a legal option in California. The HSLDA said if the opinion stands, California would have the most regressive law in the nation.

Spokesman Allan Carlson of the The World Congress of Families said that would put California on the same standard as Germany and Brazil, two other governments that ban homeschooling.

The court ruling said: “We find no reason to strike down the Legislature’s evaluation of what constitutes an adequate education scheme sufficient to promote the ‘general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence … We agree … ‘the educational program of the State of California was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education.'”

Those words echoed the ideas of officials from Germany, where homeschooling has been outlawed since 1938 under a law adopted when Adolf Hitler decided he wanted the state, and no one else, to control the minds of the nation’s youth.

Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has said “school teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct, encourages dialogue among people of different beliefs and cultures, and helps students to become responsible citizens.”

The appeals ruling said California law requires “persons between the ages of six and 18” to be in school, “the public full-time day school,” with exemptions being allowed for those in a “private full-time day school” or those “instructed by a tutor who holds a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught.”

Nor did the family’s religious beliefs matter to the court.

Their “sincerely held religious beliefs” are “not the quality of evidence that permits us to say that application of California’s compulsory public school education law to them violates their First Amendment rights,” the court said.

The family told WND it was working on its options for appeal, but they remained indefinite. But there are other developments already.

Assemblyman Joel Anderson has proposed a resolution in the state Legislature in California that calls for the Croskey ruling to be overturned.
Gov. Schwarzenegger said, “if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights, then, as elected officials, we will.”
California Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said, “Parents still have the right to homeschool in this state.”
The HSLDA said it would coordinate a petition seeking to have the legal opinion “de-published,” which is a process that would prevent it from being used as a widespread precedent for other homeschooling families.
Another petition appeals to Schwarzenegger and the state legislature and is being run by the Pacific Justice Institute, which is working with the website PetitionsToday.org.
Yet another petition also is under way, at the ReverseTheRuling.com website. That organization offers information for homeschoolers who want to follow the California case, because of that state’s influence throughout the nation. It was assembled by the organization Learning By Grace, an outreach dedicated to providing parents with innovative online Christian homeschool materials.
 

“We have seen God’s hand of protection on the homeschooling movement for the 25 years we have been working together for this cause. There is no reason to begin to doubt God now,” Farris said.

Pacific Justice also is representing Sunland Christian School, which has been working with the family’s children in a study program, on an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

“Don’t panic,” the school said in a statement. “Help those who feel distraught and afraid, to be at peace and have faith for a favorable outcome. While we are appealing this ruling, it won’t be used in court against homeschoolers. Continue to homeschool effectively, caring about your family, children, their growth and development and their academic instruction,” the school said.

Pacific Justice chief Brad Dacus promised, “I will leave no stone unturned in an effort to reverse this heinous attack on parental rights, and that includes asking for your swift and immediate help.”

The Longs previously told WND of their concerns with the public school district’s advocacy for alternative sexual lifestyles and promotion of the theory of evolution.

“The parent-child relationship existed long before any government and makes it the responsibility of the parent to educate the child,” Phillip Long told California reporters.

He said the responsibility includes protecting children from things that are hazardous “emotionally” as well as physically.

Croskey’s ruling reversed a decision from Superior Court Judge Stephen Marpet, who said “parents have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home.”

As WND has reported, the Longs had their children enrolled in Sunland Christian School, a private homeschooling program.

But Croskey, without hearing arguments from the school, opined that the situation was a “ruse of enrolling [children] in a private school and then letting them stay home and be taught by a non-credentialed parent.”
 

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Well, it seems that there are new developments in this matter every day. Today I bring you an update from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). The State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, is defending the rights of parents to homeschool their children. There is still work to be done, but the update is a positive one. You can read more below:

March 11, 2008

An update to HSLDA Members and Friends on the California Court of
Appeal Decision on Homeschooling:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell comes to the
defense of homeschool families. “The California Department of
Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this
ruling. Parents still have the right to homeschool in this state,” he
said.

After the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District in Los
Angeles ruled on February 28 that parents had to be credentialed
teachers to educate their own children the statement from O’Connell is
encouraging news for the homeschool community.

“O’Connell has it right,” said Michael Farris, Chairman of HSLDA. “But
the court decision must still be overturned before homeschool freedom
can be restored in California.”

The Court of Appeal ruling shocked the homeschool community because in
one sweeping decision it effectively outlawed homeschooling.

“We hope the statement from O’Connell puts the brakes on any
enforcement action,” said Farris.

HSLDA will be pursuing several legal options, including seeking review
by the California Supreme Court and petitioning the same court to
depublish the opinion in order to return California to being a state
where a family can legally homeschool in California without fear.

“We have just started the legal battle to restore homeschool freedom
in California,” said Farris.

To visit HSLDA’s Info page on this court decision, which has the legal
status, link to the decision, and info on legal grounds for
homeschooling in California, use this link:
http://hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=4890

Ian Slatter
Director of Media Relations

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Well, I am continuing to stay informed about this issue and I will continue to provide updates as they come in. It is good to see that there are some officials who are looking at this matter in a level-headed way, which will hopefully keep this “train” from completely de-railing. I am thankful for the freedoms that we have to homeschool, and I for one refuse to take them for granted.

The link for this most recent information is: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=58577

Here is the news:

Lawmaker: Reject homeschooling opinion
‘Supreme Court says parents have a right to direct children’s education’

——————————————————————————–
Posted: March 10, 2008
11:14 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Judge H. Walt Croskey

Just days after California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger blasted a court ruling that threatened homeschooling in his state, a member of the California State Assembly has introduced a resolution recommending the decision be overturned.

And advocates for homeschooling confirm they are telling their constituents to continue with their plans, and make preparations to leave the “immoral” government public school system, despite the conclusion from Judge H. Walt Croskey.

“This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will,” Schwarzenegger said in a recent statement, after a ruling from a state appellate court essentially concluded California law allows no option for parents to school their children themselves.

“Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education,” the governor said.

The latest move comes from California Assemblyman Joel Anderson, according to an announcement from Capitol Resource Institute.

“Shockwaves continue to reverberate throughout the country after last week’s unbelievable Court of Appeals for the 2nd Appellate District ruling that attacked parents’ rights to homeschool in California,” the organization said in a statement.

“Assemblyman Joel Anderson has taken the first step in protecting parents’ rights to homeschool by introducing a concurrent resolution in the Assembly, calling on the California Supreme Court to reverse the lower court’s decision,” the group said.

The proposal notes that homeschoolers in California are now in “responsible positions as parents, as students in and graduates of colleges and universities, in the workplace, and as citizens in society at large…”

It also notes “the United States Supreme Court has ruled that parents have a fundamental constitutional right to direct the education and upbringing of their children…”

“On Feb. 28, 2008, the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Appellate District in Los Angeles issued an opinion in the case of In Re: Rachel L. holding that homeschooling without a teaching credential is not legal… [and that] denies California parents’ primary responsibility and right to determine the best place and manner of their own children’s education,” the resolution says.

It calls on the state Supreme Court to reverse the decision.

Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, said the ruling was disturbing.

“The ruling is so alarming because the state appeals court judges actually wrote that ‘parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children.’ The judges said that parents without teaching credentials cannot teach. This ruling is a radical slam against homeschooling,” the organization said.

However, Thomasson said parents should not do anything extreme.

“Despite this intolerant, anti-parent ruling, California homeschoolers must not panic… California homeschooling families should continue homeschooling, and parents who are considering homeschooling as a way to exit the immoral government school system should continue with their plans,” he said.

The organization said such families should considering being part of an organization that coordinates resources and provides a defense for families who face unfair attacks, recommending the Home School Legal Defense Association.

He said that’s reasonable since “some bureaucrats may now use this court ruling to selectively persecute homeschool parents.”

That organization is working on a petition to made the ruling “non-binding.” “Such an order would mean this awful ruling is limited to only the facts in the case, is not binding precedent…” according to CCF.

One homeschooling analyst noted, however, there was one further danger written into the ruling, a reference to “the child’s rights under California’s compulsory public education law.”

That reference appears to be linked to the United Nation’s ideology that there are things such as educational “rights” for children, meaning their parents are liable if they are now allowed to exercise those “rights.”

“That, in itself, is a threat,” the analyst told WND. If such “rights” are established in law, then parents could be targeted with legal action on behalf of the children for violating those “rights.”

Croskey, whose opinion was joined by two other judges, ordered: “Parents who fail to [comply with school enrollment laws] may be subject to a criminal complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction and subject to imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and counseling program.”

WND earlier reported Brad Dacus, chief of the Pacific Justice Institute, has confirmed plans for an appeal to the state Supreme Court on behalf of the school in which the Long children were enrolled.

“We are hoping enough common sense prevails for everyone to wait and see how this plays out before the state Supreme Court,” he said. But in California, such appellate level rulings are binding on lower courts when they are issued, he said.

The family in the case, Phillip and Mary Long, earlier told WND they were reviewing their options for an appeal themselves, but had not confirmed specifics yet.

There are an estimated 166,000 children in formalized homeschool situations in California now, but Dacus estimated there are others “under the radar” that would be several times that number.

The ruling resulted from a case involving members of the Long family, who earlier described for WND their concerns with the public school district’s advocacy for alternative sexual lifestyles.

“The parent-child relationship existed long before any government and makes it the responsibility of the parent to educate the child,” Long told California reporters. He said the responsibility includes issues such as protecting children from things that are hazardous “emotionally” as well as physically.

The Los Angeles court decision granted a special petition brought by lawyers appointed to represent the two youngest children after the family’s homeschooling was brought to the attention of child advocates. The lawyers appointed by the state were unhappy with a lower court’s ruling that allowed the family to continue homeschooling and challenged it on appeal.

Dacus earlier warned there are potential dangers from social services situations now too. He said the California legislature has adopted “education neglect” rules that could be used “as grounds for the removal of a child from a family.”

“We are advising our homeschoolers to continue, but to keep both eyes open,” he told WND.

Candi Cushman, an education analyst for Focus on the Family, said the timing was horrible, because of new statutes facing school children in California, an issue which WND previously has reported.

“This takes away recourse from thousands of parents in California who want to escape the government-enforced indoctrination in public schools,” she said. “The Legislature recently passed a law that basically ensures that students get a one-sided, positive portrayal of homosexuality and same-sex ‘marriage.'”

WND broke the story of the ruling, which reversed a decision from Superior Court Judge Stephen Marpet, who said “parents have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home.”

As WND has reported, the Longs had their children enrolled in Sunland Christian School, a private homeschooling program.

But Croskey, without hearing arguments from the school, opined that the situation was a “ruse of enrolling [children] in a private school and then letting them stay home and be taught by a non-credentialed parent.”

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Here is the latest on the chaos resulting from the court decision regarding home education in California. This is certainly causing quite a stir, but I think that is a good thing. I am not endorsing wide-spread panic, that will accomplish nothing. However, if we do not pay any attention to this matter or let it slide we are setting ourselves up for potentially far-reaching loss of parental rights and our homeschool freedoms. Here is the first of two news stories regarding this matter:
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1720697,00.html?xid=feed-cnn-nation
Criminalizing Home Schoolers
Friday, Mar. 07, 2008 By KRISTIN KLOBERDANZ/MODESTO 

 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. Citing state law that goes back to the early 1950s, Croskey declared that “California courts have held that under provisions in the Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.” Furthermore, the judge wrote, if instructors teach without credentials they will be subject to criminal action.
 
 

This news raised a furor among home schooling advocates, including government officials. “Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children,” Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement today. “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 kind of scary,” says Julie Beth Lamb, an Oakdale, California, parent who, with no teaching credentials, has taught her four children for 15 years. “If that ruling is held up, this would make us one of the most restrictive states in the nation.”

The debacle originated with a suit over child abuse. One of the eight children of Philip and Mary Long, a Los Angeles couple, had filed a complaint of abuse and neglect with the L.A. Department of Children and Family Services. The agency determined that the Long children were being home schooled, taught by their uncredentialed mother while officially enrolled in independent study at Sunland Christian School. The DCFS then turned to the courts to mandate that the children attend public school so that teachers might spot evidence of abuse (a charge the parents deny). A juvenile court, however, determined that the Longs had a constitutional right to home school their children. The DCFS appealed and the case landed in Croskey’s appellate court.

For years, the state of California has allowed parents to home school as long as they file papers to create a private school and hire a tutor with credentials or if their child participates in an independent study program through a credentialed school. In evaluating the Long case, however, Judge Croskey found that state law forbade any home schooling that was not taught by a credentialed teacher and that what California had been allowing was, in his judicial opinion, illegal. In 1953, another appellate court ruled against home-schooling parents who didn’t want to adhere to California’s compulsory education laws, which require kids between six and 18 to attend a credentialed school. The current case is most likely to be appealed to California’s Supreme Court.

“We weren’t trying to change the law on home schooling,” says Leslie Heimov of the Children’s Law Center, which represents the Long children involved in the case. “The law is accurate — it hasn’t changed since the 1950s.” She says the Center does not even have an opinion on home schooling. They just wanted to do what was best for the children represented in the case.

The fact that this sweeping ruling has sprung from such an individualized case is what has most outraged home schooling advocates. “Public schools are not a solution to the problem of child abuse,” says Leslie Buchanan, president of the HomeSchool Association of California. Jack O’Connell, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction — the equivalent of a department of education — now faces the potential crisis of dealing with tens of thousands of truants. Does he know what will happen next? “I honestly don’t know,” O’Connell says, adding that his department is reviewing the case. “There is some angst in the field.”

And another article to keep you informed:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-homeschool08mar08,0,1106194.story

 Bill on home schooling rights urged

Governor criticizes court requirement of a teaching credential and says he will move to protect practice.

By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

March 8, 2008

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called Friday for the reversal of a recent appellate court decision banning parents from educating their children at home if they lack a teaching credential. If the state Supreme Court fails to act, the governor vowed to push through legislation guaranteeing families’ right to home school.

“This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will,” he said in a written statement.
Schwarzenegger’s comments about the ruling came as home schooling families and national conservative leaders expressed increased concerns over the practice that they believe every parent has a fundamental right to exercise.

On Feb. 28, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that parents must have a teaching credential to home school their children. The decision has not yet gone into effect and it is unlikely to be enforced pending appeals to the state Supreme Court by attorneys representing Phillip and Mary Long, the Lynwood couple at the center of the case, and others.

The California Department of Education allows home schooling as long as parents file paperwork with the state establishing themselves as small private schools, hire credentialed tutors or enroll their children in independent study programs run by charter or private schools or public school districts while still teaching at home.

California does little to enforce those provisions and insists it is the local school districts’ responsibility. In addition, state education officials say some parents home school their children without the knowledge of any entity.

The Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing a parochial school that is popular with home schoolers, including the Long family, plans to appeal the ruling.

The institute estimates that there are as many as 166,000 California students who are home schooled. State education department officials, whose Sacramento offices were picketed by home schooling families Friday, said there is no way of knowing the true number.

State Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell spoke out about the ruling for the first time Friday at a news conference in Alameda in which he reaffirmed his support for parents to educate their children as they see fit while urging them to work with institutions to ensure that their children will be successful.

“Whatever works best for that family, he would support as long as the children are getting a good education,” department spokeswoman Pam Slater said.

“He wants home school parents to make sure they have partnerships with school districts or charter schools to make sure they have the right curriculum, everything a child needs to succeed and get into college,” Slater said.

Conservative leaders across the nation also weighed in on the matter, with evangelist James C. Dobson interrupting his “Focus on the Family” radio program’s regular programming to discuss the ruling.

“What has occurred is yet another egregious decision handed down by a California appeals court that strikes at the very heart and soul of families and their children,” he said Friday morning. “The court has assaulted parental rights again and this time with a sledgehammer.”

The Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Assn. also started an online petition to urge the state Supreme Court to “depublish” the ruling, meaning it would apply only to the family in question and not set a precedent.

Thousands of supporters from across the nation were signing the petition every hour, and by 6:30 p.m., it had more than 82,000 signatures.

In California, hundreds of worried home school families have been inundating the state Department of Education, the offices of the governor and state legislators as well as home school advocacy groups with phone calls and e-mails.

“We’re very busy” answering phones, said Susan Beatty, co-founder of the Norwalk-based Christian Home Educators Assn. of California. “Most of them are confused and just want to be reassured. There is some talk that home school is illegal after today, which is, of course, not true.”

Beatty said the group was telling parents, “There’s no reason to be afraid, they can continue to home school as they have in the past.”

The appellate court ruling stemmed from a case involving the Longs, who were repeatedly referred to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services over various allegations, including charges of physical abuse involving some of their eight children.

A lawyer appointed to represent two of the Long’s young children requested that the court require them to physically attend a public or private school where adults could monitor their well-being.

The appellate court ruled that a parochial school’s occasional monitoring of the children’s education is insufficient to qualify as being enrolled in a private school, and because Mary Long does not hold a teaching credential, the court determined that the family is breaking state law.

seema.mehta@latimes.com

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