Update on California (It’s Still Not Illegal to Homeschool Here)

The story hit mainstream media, “sending waves of fear through California’s home schooling families.” It was only a matter of time before this story hit the big papers. How can they resist the chance to monetize on a story that is so easy to sensationalize?

There isn’t much new in the article. Since the ruling, and since the article, this is what has happened in California:

1) Homeschoolers have NOT been rounded up and sent to prison. There has been no official statement from the CDE or local school districts.

2) Homeschooling still isn’t illegal. The laws haven’t changed.

3) The news and people’s reactions are highly emotional. When we take the emotion out of the equation, there really isn’t much to say.

Some thoughts on the LA Times article:

The second paragraph pretty much sums up the issue, and the article could have stopped there:

Advocates for the families vowed to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Enforcement until then appears unlikely, but if the ruling stands, home-schooling supporters say California will have the most regressive law in the nation.

Enforcement is not only unlikely, it’s impossible. Here’s why: the court’s ruling, if taken as law, would cause a cascade of confusion on what the laws really mean, and who gets to decide. For example, the private school laws in CA say that for all private schools, teachers must be “capable of teaching.” There is no mention of credentials in any part of the private school code. If the judges’ ruling is interpreted that all parents who teach through their own private schools at home must have a credential, then what does that mean for all other private schools?

There is nothing in the law that says that certain kinds of private schools have one kind of teacher requirement, and others don’t. There is no indication in the law that parents who teach their children at home have to have any different credentials than a private school teacher at large private school. One judge mentions that large private schools have a natural self-regulation because of the demands of the parents, but that doesn’t exist anywhere in the law. But, according to the law, if homeschoolers are doing something “illegal”, aren’t all the parents who send their kids to large private schools who don’t hire credentialed teachers? If the law says one thing to cover all private school teachers, how does the court decide that one kind of private school teacher is legal and another isn’t? That’s not in the law.

If this were somehow “enforced”, and there was a mass round-up of parents, each time they were taken to court, the judge would have to show in the law where it says that the parents are required to have a credential of they are teachers at a private school. That’s not in the law. And where exactly does the law place the line between who has to have a credential and who doesn’t? Every time a parent wants to see if they are legally educating their children, do they have to get sent to court and assessed by a judge? Obviously not, so who has the jurisidiction to decide which families are legal and which ones aren’t? There is nothing in the law that prescribes that.

If this ruling were to stand, there would be so many questions that need to be cleared up, it would create a huge snafu for more than just homeschoolers.

It does not behoove the state, or the CA educational system, or anyone really, to accept this court’s ruling as the correct interpretation of the law. It might be the butter on some individual’s toast to “finally” get those pesky homeschoolers, but in reality, this is such a big ruling, it would effect everyone if it stood as is.

In fact, I’m not even exactly sure what would be “enforced” if someone were to try and enforce it. Would it be only homeschoolers who enroll in a private school ISP homeschooling program? Or PSA filing families? What about charter school families? What would be the law they are breaking? If something is illegal, it means someone is break the law, right? So what law are we breaking exactly? What are they going to enforce?

This is sooooo not over.

The Pacific Justice Institute is also quoted in the LA Times article. I am not familiar with this group. What I do know, is that they are not a homeschooling group, they are a family/religious/civil liberties group. I don’t know how well they will be able to defend the Long family, but outside support to fight the homeschooling law is another brick in the wall.

There is a lot of media about this. I was called this morning and asked to call into a program on NPR where they are discussing the ruling during one of their opinion shows. (I didn’t do it.) (If you heard it, send me an email. I couldn’t find a link.)

If you are in California, have something prepared to say to people who will inevitably ask you about it, since it’s coming out in the general media. And it wouldn’t hurt to warn your immediate family before they hear it from the tip-of-the-iceberg news reports that focus on the sky falling.

Alright, back to real life. We’re headed to Sea World, Day 2, where we continue to live our homeschooling life, ready for whatever comes next.

(P.S. If this seems rambling or is full of typos, I apologize. While I was trying to write this, my kids were crawling all over me trying to get me off the computer so we can go to Sea World.)

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11 Responses to “Update on California (It’s Still Not Illegal to Homeschool Here)”

  1. Doc Says:

    Ugh, the ruling isn’t about credentials. It isn’t about whether or not homeschooling is legal. It’s about whether or not one family has the constitutional “right” to continue homeschooling in light of a lower courts decision to remand the children to a traditional school setting, because of several serious allegations of child abuse.

    The only “ruling” is that this particular family, the Longs, have to send their children to traditional, all day, school. They do not have a constitutional “right” to continue to school them under the illegal assumption that registering them with Sunland Christian (who failed to file an affidavit for the family) satisfies the legal requirement of compulsory schooling under California law. The specifics of this case, long term child abuse, not filing an affidavit, do not encompass the specifics of a vast majority of California “private school at homers”.

    The only students and parents who may need to worry about legality are those who are registered with an umbrella school instead of filing their own affidavit. The umbrella system simply does not comply with the legal wording in the educational code. This has been a known fact for years, but instead of pushing for a rewording of the code, which may have caused increased conditions onto homeschoolers, large homeschooling groups in California have pushed for a status quo – leaving just such a test case as this one open for review.

    The idea of teaching certificates is a gray area that will be shot down by the Supreme court, because for years, California has not required them in private schools, (nor do most states) and during teaching shortages of the 80’s and 90’s, even the public schools hired teachers who did not hold valid California teaching certificates (both my partner and myself taught in the California school system during this period). A precedent has already been set that can be verified by the varied successes of the literally millions of California students who have been educated in the traditional private school system. It doesn’t take a legal degree to understand the kind of precedent I’m talking about.

    Homeschooling ISN’T legal, or illegal, because the educational code of California doesn’t mention homeschool. It says that children may attend a private school, provided they attend that school all day. A home that’s been declared a private school via affidavit accomplishes this requirement. An umbrella school does not satisfy this, and never has, but officials have let it slide because frankly, it’s a mess and nobody has the resources ($$$ and manpower) to enforce it. The ruling isn’t about credentials of teachers, it’s about this one family, who has been investigated for child abuse 7 times, and the determination that oversight by adults other than the parents can prevent further instances of abuse. It’s also about whether or not schooling your child at home is constitutional – it isn’t. Education type isn’t mentioned in any state’s, or the federal, constitution. Education falls under the legislative branch of government, codified by laws that govern compulsory education.

    Am I the only person who actually read the legal ruling?

  2. suburbancorrespondent Says:

    Think what a learning opportunity going to jail would be!

  3. momlovesbeingathome Says:

    Tammy, I heard about this earlier today and immediately thought of you. I didn’t really know any details but after reading this as well as your other post I’m confident everything will work out fine just as you’ve said. :)

  4. momto6 Says:

    Doc, the problem with the appellate court’s opinion is that it is a published opinion. Therefore, it could be used as precedent in other CA court cases involving homeschoolers. If it were an unpublished opinion (as was a previous, lower court decision in this particular case), then it would not potentially impact homeschoolers in the rest of the state. As it is, one option which HSLDA may pursue is to petition with the state Supreme Court to have this opinion depublished, so that it does only apply to the family in question. You can read more about that here: http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/ca/200803060.asp

  5. Stephanie Says:

    Hey Tammy…is there a good, non-sensationalistic place to keep up with what is going on? People keep forwarding stuff to my local lists (yup, all the way here in Virginia!) and it is hard to get a real good idea of what is going on and the implications.

  6. Tammy Says:

    Here’s HSLDA’s most recent update: http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/ca/200803060.asp

    and Ann Zeise has a new page for this with good links. She’s a reliable, generally non-sensationalist source:
    http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/articles/030508.htm

  7. David Says:

    I read the court’s ruling and have to disagree strongly. The court has clearly ruled that home schooling is illegal. They point out that the legislature specifically addressed private schools and crediticialed tutors and they would not have done so had they intended to allow homeschooling. The court’s position was that simply calling yourself a private school does not get around the statues requirements. Furthermore, if you actually read the PSA/R4 form that is used declare yourself as a private school you will find that it says the form does not provide recognition as a private school.

    The bottom line here is that if this ruling isn’t overturned then home schooling in California is all but over.

  8. Mom Is Teaching » Blog Archive » Homeschooling In California: Legal Or Not? Says:

    [...] has an update to remind us that it’s still not illegal to homeschool in California. Could you imagine the state trying to round up every single homeschooler and shove them all into [...]

  9. California Update (or It’s Not Illegal to Homeschool) « Just Enough, and Nothing More Says:

    [...] Read Posts California Update (or It’s Not Illegal to Homeschool)Update on California (It’s Still Not Illegal to Homeschool Here)The Real Cons of HomeschoolingCHN’s Official CHN Statement On the Appellate Court Ruling on [...]

  10. elfwreck Says:

    simply calling yourself a private school does not get around the statues requirements

    No, it doesn’t.
    But the requirements for a private school are that they (1) file appropriate paperwork (the R4), (2) they have “persons capable of teaching” doing the instruction, and (3) non-parental staff are required to send fingerprints to the FBI.

    That’s about it. There’s no requirement that they charge money, have more than 20 students, not be held in a private home, or follow a specific curriculum.

    This decision was basically “Sunland has failed to uphold its responsibility to educate these children, and therefore they are forbidden to enroll in this particular private school.” With a whole lot of babble about how homeschools aren’t private schools, but no explanation of how that fits with the law.

    If this ruling applied to “all homeschoolers,” it would apply to *all private schools.*

  11. Can Homeschoolers Change the World? « Zayna’s Garden Says:

    [...] in light of the recent uproar in California, I found the following particularly [...]


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