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Posts Tagged ‘Focus on the Family’

Well, it has been a long 6 months but the battle for homeschool freedom in the state of California has ended for now…with success!! After following this case closely since not long after beginning this blog, it is nice to see such a positive culmination of events in this important matter. Below you can read more about this victory for parental rights. Praise the Lord for His obvious hand in this fight!

The following case report can be found at this location:

http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/ca/200808080.asp

Here is the text:

A Great Victory for California Homeschoolers

In a unanimous decision, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District today ruled that California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education.

Today’s decision stands in stark contrast to the opinion this same three-judge panel issued in February, which would have made California the only state in the union to outlaw home education had it remained in effect.

It is unusual for an appellate court to grant a petition for rehearing as this court did in March,said HSLDA Chairman Mike Farris,but it is truly remarkable for a court to completely reverse its own earlier opinion. We thank you for your prayers and give God the glory for this great victory.

When the court vacated its earlier decision on March 25, 2008, it invited interested organizations to file friend-of-the-court briefs.I have never seen such an impressive array of people and organizations coming to the defense of homeschooling, said Farris, who was one of the attorneys who argued the case on rehearing along with Alliance Defense Fund attorney, Jeff Shafer who represented the father. The father was also represented by Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation.

California’s three largest homeschool organizations, California Homeschool Network, Homeschool Association of California and Christian Home Education Association joined together in one brief to defend the right of all parents to homeschool. HSLDA, Family Protection Ministries and Focus on the Family also joined in a separate brief. Numerous other private organizations came to the defense of home education as did California’s governor, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction.

We are extremely grateful to all of the organizations who worked tirelessly to protect and preserve homeschooling freedom in California. We are also thankful for you, our members, for your prayers and support during this trying season.

The freedom to homeschool is a precious gift from God. But keeping it free requires vigilance and perseverance. We must continue to work together diligently to preserve this precious freedom in California and elsewhere.

Below are excerpts from the opinion:

We will conclude that: (1) California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education; and (2) the statutory permission to home school may constitutionally be overridden in order to protect the safety of a child who has been declared dependent. [FN1: We use the terms home school and home schooling to refer to full-time education in the home by a parent or guardian who does not necessarily possess a teaching credential.]

Although the Legislature did not amend the statutory scheme so as to expressly permit home schooling, more recent enactments demonstrate an apparent acceptance by the Legislature of the proposition that home schooling is taking place in California, with home schools allowed as private schools. Recent statutes indicate that the Legislature is aware that some parents in California home school their children by declaring their homes to be private schools. Moreover, several statutory enactments indicate a legislative approval of home schooling, by exempting home schools from requirements otherwise applicable to private schools.

While the Legislature has never acted to expressly supersede Turner and Shinn, it has acted as though home schooling is, in fact, permitted in California.

While the legislative history of Education Code section 44237 is somewhat complicated, it confirms this interpretation, and also reflects the Legislature’s apparent intent to accommodate home schooling parents.

The most logical interpretation of subsequent legislative enactments and regulatory provisions supports the conclusion that a home school can, in fact, fall within the private school exception to the general compulsory education law.

We therefore conclude that home schools may constitute private schools.

While the interpretation of the private school exemption is ultimately an issue for the courts, we find it significant that education and enforcement officials at both the state and local levels agree that home schools may constitute private schools.

In short, the rule of Turner and Shinn has been discounted as a doctrinal anachronism, and clinging to such precedent would undermine a practice that has been, if not actively encouraged, at least acknowledged and accepted by officials and the public for many years.

Another news story regarding this issue can be found here:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-homeschool9-2008aug09,0,858947.story

The article follows:

Parents may home-school children without teaching credential, California court says

Gov. Schwarzenegger praises the reversal by the 2nd District Court of Appeal as a victory for students and parental rights.

By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 9, 2008

Parents may legally home-school their children in California even if they lack a teaching credential, a state appellate court ruled Friday. The decision is a reversal of the court’s earlier position, which effectively prohibited most home schooling and sparked fear throughout the state’s estimated 166,000 home-schoolers.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had vowed to allow home schooling through legislation if the court did not act, praised the ruling. 
 
“This is a victory for California’s students, parents and education community. This decision confirms the right every California child has to a quality education and the right parents have to decide what is best for their children,” he said. “I hope the ruling settles this matter for parents and home-schooled children once and for all in California, but assure them that we, as elected officials, will continue to defend parents’ rights.”

In February, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled in a child protection hearing that parents must have a teaching credential to home-school their children. The decision caused a nationwide uproar among home-schoolers, religious activists and others, and the court agreed to reconsider its decision, a move described as unusual but not unprecedented.

The issue arose in part because California’s laws do not specifically address home schooling, unlike those of at least 30 other states.
Friday’s ruling essentially upheld the position of the state Department of Education and state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, who have traditionally allowed home schooling as long as parents file paperwork with the state establishing themselves as private schools, hire credentialed tutors or enroll their children in independent study programs run by charter or private schools or public school districts.

“As head of California’s public school system, it would be my wish that all children attend public school, but I understand that a traditional public school environment may not be the right setting for each and every child,” he said. “I recognize and understand the consternation that the earlier court ruling caused for many parents and associations involved in home schooling. It is my hope that today’s ruling will allay many of those fears and resolve much of the confusion.”

The court also said that the right of parents to home-school their children can be overridden if a child is in danger.

Home-schooling families celebrated the ruling.

“We’re ecstatic, happy and thrilled,” said Loren Gould of Westchester, who teaches her son, Logan, 7, at home. “He gets to keep his love of learning alive. . . . The world is his classroom.”

The case stemmed from the Long family of Lynwood, who were accused of mistreating some of their eight children. All of the children are or had been enrolled at Sunland Christian School, where they would occasionally take tests, but they were taught in their home by their mother.

Lawyers appointed to represent the two youngest children had asked the court to require them to attend a public or private school full time so adults could monitor their well-being. The family court declined, but the children’s lawyers appealed.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled in February that Sunland officials’ occasional monitoring of the Longs’ methods of teaching were insufficient to qualify as being enrolled in a private school. Because Mary Long does not have a teaching credential, the family violated state laws, the ruling said.

The Longs, the Sunland school and others appealed, and the appellate panel agreed to revisit the ruling. That panel heard arguments in June at a freewheeling hearing attended by at least 45 attorneys representing disparate groups. Democratic and Republican politicians, religious and secular home-schoolers, and liberal and conservative legal scholars all weighed in, saying the court had erred.

Phillip Long, who has said the family chose to home-school the children because of their strong Christian beliefs, said Friday that he doesn’t believe the court was swayed by the legal arguments.

“Only one thing swayed this court — politics,” he said. “This court was under pressure. . . . They did it to protect themselves and their reputation. Those judges want to be Supreme Court judges, they want to move up. They’re not going to do anything to upset their careers.”

Though the appellate court upheld the right of parents to home-school, it did direct the family court to revisit whether the Longs should be allowed to continue to home-school their children.

It’s unclear what will happen, because in July the family court terminated its jurisdiction over the family’s children, though the children’s lawyers are appealing that decision. Long is confident he will prevail.

“Educating your children in your own home preexisted these buffoons that sit on the 2nd Circuit,” he said. “It preexisted this state. It preexisted us. Parents have been teaching their own children since the beginning.”

California does little to enforce the education department’s provisions and insists that doing so is the local school districts’ responsibility.

In addition, state education officials say some parents home-school their children without the knowledge of any entity, making them virtually impossible to locate.

Home-schoolers and government officials have largely accepted this murky arrangement, but the court faulted the Legislature for failing to clarify the rules.

“It is important to recognize that it is not for us to consider, as a matter of policy, whether home schooling should be permitted in California. That job is for the Legislature. It is not the duty of the courts to make the law; we endeavor to interpret it,” Justice H. Walter Croskey wrote in a ruling signed by the two other members of the panel. “Our first task, interpreting the law of California, is made more difficult in this case by legislative inaction.”

To that end, the court said additional requirements for home-schoolers in other states such as standardized testing or home visits should be considered by the California Legislature.

“Given the state’s compelling interest in educating all of its children . . . and the absence of an express statutory and regulatory framework for home schooling in California, additional clarity in this area of the law would be helpful,” according to the ruling.

Statements such as those irked some home-school organizations that are weary of regulation, but were supported by constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of UC Irvine’s law school, who urged the court to overturn its initial ruling that banned most home schooling.

“I believe it’s the right of parents, if they chose, to be able to home-school their children. That’s absolutely their right,” he said. But “the state has an important interest [in] making sure all children are adequately educated.”

seema.mehta@latimes.com


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The last couple of days I have been breaking out of the typical mold as to how I post entries on this blog. I usually do not delve too deeply into issues that tie to politics, that is not really the purpose of my writings. However, my personal belief system, and consequently this blog, is solidly pro-life. So, I feel like I cannot help but share the following information with you.

Be an informed voter. Please know that if you vote for Barack Obama in the rapidly approaching election for the Presidency, that you are voting for the unrestricted and unregulated murder of innocent children. Obama’s desire should he succeed in being elected President of the United States, is to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. This would destroy every single state law limiting or regulating abortion.

I pray that any voters out there who object to the continued willfull decimation of our country’s innocent unborn babies, will stand up against this evil agenda. We have a long way to go towards fighting the culture of death we currently face, and allowing this man to take office will push our culture into an even more terrible age that COMPLETELY devalues life.

You can read more about this matter below. Please join me in prayer and deed. Fight against those who wish to destroy the blessings sent to us as children.

You can find this news story at the following location:

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/jun/08061010.html

The article follows:

Obama’s Abortion Bombshell: Unrestricted Abortion Over Wishes of Individual States a Priority for Presidency

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 10, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Barack Obama, the presumptive pro-abortion nominee of the Democratic Party, has plans to reward the allies that helped him topple Hillary Clinton from her throne by making total unrestricted abortion in the United States his number one priority as president.

In light of Obama’s recently achieved status as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink has decided to remind its supporters that almost one year has passed since Obama made his vows to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that abortion would be the first priority of his administration.

“The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act,” Obama said in his July speech to abortion advocates worried about the increase of pro-life legislation at the state level.

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is legislation Obama has co-sponsored along with 18 other senators that would annihilate every single state law limiting or regulating abortion, including the federal ban on partial birth abortion.

The 2007 version of FOCA proposed: “It is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.”

Obama made his remarks in a question-and-answer session after delivering a speech crystallizing for abortion advocates his deep-seated abortion philosophy and his belief that federal legislation will break pro-life resistance and end the national debate on abortion.

“I am absolutely convinced that culture wars are so nineties; their days are growing dark, it is time to turn the page,” Obama said in July. “We want a new day here in America. We’re tired about arguing about the same ole’ stuff. And I am convinced we can win that argument.”

Besides making abortion on demand a “fundamental right” throughout the United States, FOCA would effectively nullify informed consent laws, waiting periods, health safety regulations for abortion clinics, etc.

Furthermore, medical professionals and institutions that refused abortions also would lose legal protections. FOCA would expose individuals, organizations, and governments – including federal, state, and local government agencies – to costly civil actions for purported violations of the act.

“Thirty-five years after Roe, abortion supporters, like Senator Obama, are dismayed that abortion remains a divisive issue and that their radical agenda has not been submissively accepted by the American public,” states Denise M. Burke, vice president of Americans United for Life.

“Rather than confronting legitimate issues concerning the availability and safety of abortion, they choose to blatantly ignore the concerns and interests of everyday Americans, as well as the growing evidence that abortion hurts women.”

Hillary Clinton, once the longtime Democratic front-runner and anticipated abortion president, conceded defeat last Saturday to Obama, who captured the nomination from her after a long and bitter campaign.

Obama has won the crucial endorsement of abortion activist Frances Kissling, who broke from the ranks of other radical feminist leaders earlier this year to endorse Obama, saying Obama, not Clinton, would better use the bully pulpit of the presidency to accomplish their aims and end the culture wars over abortion.

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Well, it would seem that the fight is on to protect parent’s rights to homeschool their children in the state of California. There are many well-known figures speaking out against the recent court ruling and the bad precedent it poses to set for many other families and home education at large. I urge you to stay informed and on top of this matter. I hope that we can be unified, to speak with one voice against this outrageous attempt to control our ability to educate our children in matters academic, Spiritual, moral, and values oriented. Here is the latest update. You can find the news story here:

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=58298

Gov. Arnold blasts homeschool ruling
‘Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of children’s education’

——————————————————————————–
Posted: March 07, 2008
9:47 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today blasted a court ruling that endangered homeschooling and homeschoolers statewide.

“Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children,” the governor said in a prepared statement. “Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education.”

The comments came after a state appellate court ruling essentially concluded California state law allows no option for parents to school their children at home. Homeschool and legal experts have expressed concern that the move puts all of the parents of the estimated 166,000 homeschooled children in the state at risk of both criminal and civil penalties.

“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.

The governor’s office said the ruling from the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles concluded “all children ages 6 to 18 must attend public or private school full-time until graduation from high school or be tutored at home by a credentialed teacher.”

The ruling resulted from a case involving the family of Phillip and Mary Long, who earlier described for WND their concerns with the public school district’s advocacy for alternative sexual lifestyles and the promotion of a faith in evolution.
“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 today. He said the responsibility includes issues such as protecting children from things that are hazardous “emotionally” as well as physically.

But the court had concluded that state law doesn’t allow children to be taught by their parents in their homes, a result achieved by many families by having the parents register as a private school, which exempts them from the requirement of having credentialed faculty.

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

He said his concern is that the ruling might be used by “overzealous” school district officials and social workers to try to remove a child from a family.

“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 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.

Justice H. Walt Croskey, whose opinion was joined by two other judges, then 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.”

“The question [now] is whether it’s going to be enforced,” said Dacus. He said criminal infractions could involve fines or community service, and civil penalties could involve parental counseling.

But 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.” Such cases usually are handled in juvenile court and by social services agencies.

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

The estimate of 166,000 children in such homeschool situations that he provided earlier, he said, was a tabulation of those children only who are being homeschooled under state procedures.

“That’s a conservative number. The actual number could be as high as a million. Many are completely under the radar for fear something like this could happen,” he said.

He told WND he’s assembling an e-mail list on his institute’s website in order to provide immediate updates to those who may be affected.

Others were joining in the criticism, too.

James Dobson, founder of the Focus on the Family powerhouse Christian publisher, called it “an imperious assault on the rights of parents.”

“How dare these judges have the audacity to label tens of thousands of parents criminals – the equivalent of drug dealers or pickpockets – because they want to raise and educate their children according to their deeply held values?” he said.

“The case before them involved one couple – the ruling should have been confined to that one couple, not used to punish an entire class of people, the vast majority of them religious conservatives,” he said.

The Home School Legal Defense Association said it was setting up a petition effort to have the case ruling modified or limited in its impact.

The organization warned California is set to become the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their children at home.

“This is an all-out assault on the family,” Dobson continued, “and it must be met with a concerted effort to defend parents and their children.”

Candi Cushman, an education analyst for Focus, 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.”

Officials with the school said they asked Pacific Justice to work on the Supreme Court appeal because the organization “has been in full compliance with the requirements of the law for more than 23 years.”

“We’ve never been given an opportunity to represent our case in the Court of Appeal,” Terry Neven, the president of the school, said. “Consequently, we are excited that PJI will represent us before the California Supreme Court so that the rights of homeschooling families are preserved.”

The Longs earlier told WND they also are considering an appeal to the state Supreme Court because of the impact of the order for their family, as well as the precedent that could be construed.
 

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