California Update (or It’s Not Illegal to Homeschool)

952313_gavel.jpgYou may have heard of the recent ruling in California by an appellate court that a homeschooling family must send their children to public school because, basically, it’s not legal in CA to homeschool.

There have been emails and blog posts with a sense of panic that this has “serious implications” for California. That is fear speaking. It might have serious implications if we just ignore it, but we are not ignoring it. The HomeSchool Association of California, the California Homeschool Network, the Christian Home Educators Association of California and the Homeschool Legal Defense Association are all working together, as one unit, to deal with this.

With that in mind, it is extremely unlikely that there will be “serious implications”.

That said, everyone in California should join, or renew membership to, one of the four groups who are working on this case. In all four e-lists, they are sending regular updates on what’s going on.

For those of you who are not in California, here is the general run-down:

In California, there is no reference to “homeschooling” in the laws or education codes. Independent homeschoolers generally enroll in a private school independent study program, or they create their own private school in their home, and enroll their children in that school. The laws were designed for that purpose in mind, with different wording for schools that have less than six children, and who are being taught by a family member. In other words, although homeschooling isn’t in the laws, it’s not a secret, nor is the department of education “turning the other cheek”.

There is also a way to homeschool in California which involves using a charter school. Now, some would argue that people who enroll with a charter (public) school aren’t really “homeschooling”, but in both cases, the children are being physically taught at home, by their own parents.

The judges’ ruling says that that a child has to be either physically attending a private school, or he has to be tutored by a credentialed teacher, and those are the only two choices. Well, you can see why people are panicking!

The truth is that the ruling is wrong. And, there is no indication that it was intended to change California law. In fact, if you look at the ruling, it has a strong implication that it was a last resort effort to get this family out of a many-year struggle with the state.

What does this mean for the larger issue – how homeschooling is conducted in the state of California? So far, nothing. Nothing at all. Everything is exactly as it was a week ago.

Let me repeat that – Homeschooling is exactly the same in the state of California as it was last week. Nothing has changed.

We can wave our arms around, and get mad, and jump up and down, but it doesn’t make anything better. The best way we can help with this process, is to support the groups who have the weight behind them, and the legal expertise to know how to work this. If and when they need us to rally, write letters, make phone calls or spread the word, they will let us know. But right now, the best course of action is to know that we are strong here. We aren’t afraid that everything will fall apart, and we don’t need to spread panic in order to feel better about something we don’t know a whole lot about.

The truth is, that anything we read right now is simply a very small snippet of what is going on (even the opinion/ruling I linked earlier.) Even the state-wide groups are still in the “information gathering” stage, trying to make sense of all of this. If we panic now, how is that any different than being sucked in by sensationalist news on TV? Let’s rise above and be calm, wise and ready.

Ok, with that call to (calm) arms, here are the links to the state-wide groups.


If you are in California and you are not a member of one of these groups, go now and join! Then, join their e-lists so that you can have minute-by-minute information on what is going on. Don’t rely on sensationalist news or blogs entries (or even non-sensationalist ones like mine). Being on the e-list is also the best way to be aware of how you can help.

If you aren’t in California, thank you for your support! If anything worth panicking about happens, and if there is anything that can be done beyond the state lines, I’ll post it here. But right now, what we need is trust. And lots of cyber hugs 🙂

Please feel free to post your questions here, or to email me.

Now, I’m going back to homeschooling my kids by taking them to the San Diego Wild Animal Park as part of our week-long vacation.


More posts on JE about this topic:

Update on California (It’s Still not Illegal to Homeschool)
Official Statement by CHN
Fearless Homeschooling in Times of Stress
Joel Anderson Introduces ACR 115 Homeschool Resolution
HSC’s Statement Regarding Joel Anderson’s Resolution
More Info on ACR 115
Jack O’Connell’s statement (Superintendent of Public Instruction)


41 Responses to “California Update (or It’s Not Illegal to Homeschool)”

  1. Melissa Z. Says:

    Bravo, Tammy! Thanks for the voice of reason. Have a grand time with the zoo. I mean, at the zoo. ~~Melissa

  2. suburbancorrespondent Says:

    Whew! Sounds like a tangle – glad there are people who know how to straighten it out.

  3. Brenda Says:

    We filed the PSA, so we established our Private School. Cut/Paste from Tammy’s March 4 blog: “The judge’s ruling says that a child has to be either physically attending a private school, or he has to be tutored by a credentialed teacher, and those are the only two choices.” Our children physically attend their Private School, which happens to be located in their home some of the time, located at the local YMCA (for P.E.), located at the music studio for music lessons, at the church for ensemble band practice, at the park for science lessons, etc. I must be analyzing this too simplistically… but aren’t all PSA filers fulfilling the first condition? – Proud member of CHN 🙂

  4. sunniemom Says:

    Thanks for the update, Tammy. My concern has been about the wording of the judge’s decision- why was the ‘legality’ homeschooling addressed at all if this case was about “physical and emotional mistreatment”? Is this mistreatment going to magically stop with the kids in school? And not only that, but the judge also ruled that the kids could not attend Sunland?

    Why did the judge continuously mentioned that the mother was “non-credentialed”? What does that have to do with CA law?

    And to be exempt from the system because of religious beliefs one must be Amish?

    One can see why HSers are a bit up in arms, especially given CA’s track record on setting precedents felt throughout the country. Reading the ruling online with little or no background is very discouraging.

  5. Wendy Says:

    I learned about the case through Google’s search updates and ended up here. Thanks for the information and old fashioned common sense! Enjoy your week off and the trip the wild animal park.

  6. Mary O'Neill Says:

    In all due respect, Tammy is wrong. First, this is not one judge’s opinion. This opinion was issued by a three-judge panel on the appellate court. It is a PUBLISHED opinion. The Appellate Court has the option to make it UNPUBLISHED so that it cannot be relied upon by anyone needing legal authority for their actions. Until such time as the ruling is successfully challenged, it is the law of the state. As they say in the law “Bad Facts make Bad Law” and in this case apparently the family had a lot of “bad facts” which is why there was a “many-year struggle with the state.” The result may be BAD LAW, but it is the applicable law right now.

  7. Principled Discovery » CA and the state’s interest in secular education Says:

    […] found this entry interesting (scroll past all the white space).  As well as Tammy’s from Just Enough and Nothing More.  It appears the family did not have good defense in their court appointed attorneys who did not […]

  8. Michele Says:

    Did anyone notice that the children were represented by Lawyers from the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles which defends the children against abusive Foster home situations. I’m wondering why the children were not just taken away because of abuse and why homeschooling became the big issue. You can still get abused while going to public school. This is a very strange case and I think alot of missing information.

  9. Tammy Says:

    Thanks for the support everyone.

    Melissa – We had a great time! Thanks 🙂

    Suburban – Well, I’m not sure anyone knows just yet what to do…(and I think that is part of what makes people so anxious about this), but I do trust the many people involved will do everything they possibly can to make this right.

    Brenda – I wish it were that simple. He wants the kids in a school where someone else is teaching them. That’s what the wording sounds like to me, even though MY wording didn’t make that very clear. I guess I wouldn’t make a very good judge.

    Sunniemom – I wish I knew all the answers to those questions. But to be honest, I don’t know how much it would help if I did.

    Wendy – thanks 🙂

    Mary – Are you part of the team working on this in Cali?

    Michele – I’ve been wondering something similar. It’s yet another question that is unanswered. This case is a mess. A big ole crazy mess.

  10. California Homeschool Network Blog » Update on California Judges’ Homeschool Opinion Says:

    […] ruled against the family educating their children under a private school ISP. You can read more here. It’s frustrating not to be able to do anything, but be assured that CHN, HSC, CHEA and HSLDA […]

  11. Dana Says:

    A mess? Definitely! It seems like there was more than enough information to take this family’s right, legal ability or whatever to homeschool away based on other judgments. But why the singular focus on homeschooling in general?

    And now I wonder just exactly how homeschoolers can work against this. The family certainly deserves the best defense they can get regardless of what happened. But what can an outside organization do to defend the interests of homeschoolers without necessarily defending the actions of the particular family?

    Messy…or maybe not so. I certainly don’t know. But I am curious how it will all turn out. We function as unaccredited private schools here in NE, too.

  12. Tammy Says:

    Thanks for stopping by Dana.

    I’m really curious too, since this doesn’t just affect home-based private schools, but private school ISPs and potentially even charter schools.

    I don’t know why the focus was on homeschooling. There is some speculation. But that’s all it is – speculation – since we’ve all entered the game after the first three quarters have been played.

  13. Carol, Camarillo, CA Says:

    Moral of the story: Keep a current membership in HSLDA, and stand prepared by keeping attendance records, etc., as required. Beyond that, we don’t have control anyway. But the ONE JUDGE that really counts is on the case. It isn’t a mess to God, He understands it. So – read to your child, do like Tammy and take them to the zoo, give them an extra hug. And check that HSLDA membership!

  14. California homeschoolers-HS illegal??? - Says:

    […] I found this really good blog about the situation California Update (or It’s Not Illegal to Homeschool) Just Enough, and Nothing More […]

  15. Brenda Says:

    Hi Tammy, you are correct, it is not that simple; according to Ann’s timely posting of this link –
    technically we cannot teach our children in our own private school in our homes and we need a teaching credential. Why then was it okay for me to volunteer in my DD’s public school classroom for three years straight? The teacher was so overwhelmed with her 24 students that I did a lot of teaching in groups of 6 – 8 students (reading, writing, math – the basics) and I have a 4 year chemistry degree, not a teaching certificate. If the worst happens with the judge’s ruling (his ruling is carried out and homeschooling is banned), I think the attorneys representing the homeschooling community might consider including the angle that public education is still unequal, unfair, and homeschooling parents provide not only a better education (exposure to the arts, music, hands on science) , but a safe environment that lacks bullying, and one which most importantly includes the inculcation of morals and ethics of the parent’s choosing, and further that depending on which school district and school said child would attend, would not otherwise experience. Also, the statistics show that a California public school education is sorely lacking compared to the equally large states in the nation. California ranks among the lowest in per pupil spending and has the second highest teacher to student ratio in the nation:
    Thank you for your fine blog site, we appreciate it.

  16. Mary O'Neill Says:

    No, I am not working with any of the advocacy groups, just a homeschooler, who happens to be a lawyer. I looked at the unpublished decision in this case. It documents this family’s 20+ years through dependency courts. Clearly, a lot of problems Two of the minor children were made dependents of the Court this time around and the parents have been ordered to do comply with certain orders (having nothing to do w/homeschool) of the Court and are not to happy about it. All in all, as I suspected, a lot of BAD facts that motivated this panel to act as it did and find legal support for their position. I understand the advocacy groups here and nationally are working hard, and may be able to have the opinion depublished so it has no precedential value. That would be the most expedient thing to happen.

  17. Clayton Jones Says:

    Tammy, what were the names of the 3 judges who made the ruling? I wonder if a recall would be a way of challenging the their authority.

  18. Crimson Wife Says:

    Clayton- the 3 judges are H. Walter Croskey, Joan Klein, and Patti Kitching.

    To recall a judge, one would need to get the signatures equivalent to 20% of the people who voted in the last election for that office. I have no idea how many that would be, but I suspect it would be extraordinarily difficult to get enough people to sign a recall petition.

  19. Principled Discovery » CA, HSLDA and protecting homeschooling Says:

    […] Just Enough and Nothing More’s comment box, comes an interesting “lesson” to be learned from the California appellate […]

  20. sunniemom Says:

    I don’t believe that belonging to groups such as HSLDA is the answer. They don’t always advocate for things that I agree with. Complacency and ignorance are our downfall, and no organization can replace individuals who are knowledgeable and motivated in protecting their liberties and advocating for the things in which they believe.

    I don’t think the HSLDA could have done much of anything in this case until the home education issue was brought in- the problems in this family go far beyond homeschooling, and the HSLDA doesn’t get involved in every case just because a family homeschools.

  21. Much Ado About CA Homeschooling | ElementalMom Says:

    […] friend Tammy really summed it up nicely on her blog, where she states: But right now, the best course of action is to know that we are […]

  22. Jennifer Says:

    I have not read the actual ruling but from what I’ve read so far It says children must be taught by teachers with credentials. Has the law changed to say brick and mortar private schools need to have credentialed teachers? Before, that was a choice for private schools to decide. Will this ruling effect them also?

  23. Karen Rice Says:

    I think it strange that I heard this news the day after over 400 teaches in Chula Vista, California recv’d formal papers saying that their jobs were in jeopardy.

    I think this has NOTHING to do with our children’s education, but EVERYTHING to do with finances.

    When you also consider that virtually everything has been taken out of our public school system related to Christianity, yet other groups such as Muslims and even Wicca/ homosexuality/abortion is taught as socially acceptable, and that the Planned Parenthood is even allowed to advocate without a conservative balance within this mess, the Government which is supposed to represent us has prostituted itself without shame for a buck.

  24. Mentor Mom Says:

    So let me get this right, we can give birth to a child, and no one wants you to prove your educational worth. We can raise them to the age of 6 (the most critical period in their whole lives, where their values are established by age 3), yet no one asks you for your credential, at that point. However, when you plan to continue the same love, care, and education that you have always done with your children; then, and only then, you need to prove your worthy with credentials? I find that rather interesting.

  25. MummyNicci Says:

    I’m a mom of a 2 year old who definitely plans to homeschool. Is the surest bet for me to get a quick online teaching credential?

  26. Kelli Says:

    you can listen to the “which way LA” news on kcrw.

  27. Aldona Says:

    Hi Tammy,

    I was made aware of an article pertaining to the family mentioned. I was shocked to read how Arnold was also saying that ALL children need to attend a school, and also what another “authority” said, that children needed to be IN schools, for socialisation… Well it all sounded too much like the situation here in Germany, so when I read Arnold’s remarks, and those of the other person, I had to reassure myself, that this article, this case, was taking place in California….

    Geez, even I know, that homeschooling is totally LEGAL in the United States… just need to get the specifics on how to go about it in the 50 States.


  28. EEEEMommy Says:

    I disagree with your notion that regarding that this decision might have “serious implications” is fear-based! The fact of the matter is that any decision that is issued by a court has implications, and when the decision is one that starts defining or redefining rights, those implications could be serious. You don’t have to be a member of one of the California groups, or in the inner circle there, to understand the gravity of such decisions!
    Learning from history, we can see how easily freedoms can be taken away. The mentality that we should just wait patiently until the powers that be sort things out is naive in the light of Nazi Germany. We as citizens in this nation have the right and the responsibility to be vigilent in protecting our own freedoms.
    The ruling is in place, whether it has been enforced on a broader scale or not, homeschooling in California is at risk of being changed. I am confident that the advocacy groups there are working dilligently to ensure that it is not enforced, but until it is overruled or unpublished, there are no guarantees. And even if the current governmental officials maintain the status quo, this decision as it stands can have grave implications for future generations of homeschoolers. That’s not fear, it’s logic and understanding of how the law works.

  29. Amy Says:

    Well said, EEEEMommy!!! Freedom only comes to those who are willing to fight for it. Fighting does not mean sitting back waiting for others to take care of things for us. It means being prepared and acting in any way possible to preserve that freedom. For those that would like to take action to help have this opinion de-published, you can go here:

    You do not have to be a member of HSLDA to sign this petition nor do you have to live in the state of California. If you are married, you and your spouse should both sign the petition.

    THIS is action this is needed NOW to stop this from becoming case law across not only the state of California, but across the nation. If there ever was a time to sit back and wait, that time is over. Action is now needed!

  30. Shari Says:

    All other issues aside, and making the assumption that the current ruling stands as law until depublished or overturned, does anyone really believe that the state of California and the hundreds of school districts within the state have the manpower to actually *enforce* a law requiring homeschoolers to have a teaching credential? The implications of such enforcement would be a logistical nightmare and even if this law stands, my personal belief is that the only homeschoolers that would be effected are those that are already on the “radar” for some other reason (such as child abuse or neglect, receiving social service benefits, withdrawing a child from public school loudly and announcing they will homeschool, etc.) Many of us are not on the radar at all and I am unsure how enforcement of this law would even be feasible across the state. (Disclaimer: I am not saying we all sit tight and do nothing. I still think it is advisable to support the organizations and efforts of those working to legally change this ruling!)

  31. Ike Says:

    In addition to signing the petitions to depublish or overturn this decision (please do so), and joining one of the groups for any additional help you might provide, please also ensure that people are informed of whats happening beyond email/online communication, tell local Church leaders (those in CA) to contact congregations and inform them of the situation and the petitions available so they can sign if they so choose. Enough signatures and a petition just might mean something 😉

  32. Teresa Says:

    It seems strange to me that this ruling would come at a time when we continuously hear about the educational budget cuts and the negative impact on public school districts. I believe this is a private agenda of these judges to attempt to force homeschoolers back into the CA public school districts; therefore, increasing the budgets through the dollars provided for each student due to attendance and testing.

  33. Maura Says:

    I’ll stand in front of the bulldozer with all ya’all! I’ll go to jail with you all! Then if they try to take my kids, I say we all move to Texas!

    (Said totally tongue in cheek…….I’m not so worried.)

  34. Frank Says:

    I came here from Laureen’s blog; we’re unschoolers. My reading of the *specifics* of this case, rather than the income-generating fear-mongering of the HSLDA et al., is that this case is rooted in child abuse issues. Homeschooling is a parenthetical factor. Look beyond the alarmist headlines and you’ll see that CA law has been essentially the same since the ’50s. Nothing has changed, is changing, or is likely to change. This is a tempest in a teapot; it is not a homeschooling variant of the teapot dome scandal.

    Frank(ie) says, “Relax.”

  35. Tammy Says:

    Carol – HSLDA has a crud-load of money. Go ahead and support them, but in my opinion, CHN, HSC and CHEA need more money. In any case, joining any group you believe does good things is money well spent.

    Brenda – You have a lot of good points. It’s a big can of worms that reaches far beyond the scope of homeschooling. That’s one of the reasons why I am confident that the arguments made by the legal teams will convince the supreme court to depublish this ruling. That is, if people stop panicking. If this hubbub keeps, we’ll be fighting legislation rather than working on a depublishing. At least, if that happens, all the people who are antsy to “do something” will have an outlet.

    Mary – I agree. Getting the opinion depublished is the best-case scenario. That’s what the advocacy groups are trying to do, and I support their efforts.

    Clayton and Crimson – I’m not sure what a recall is, but it hasn’t been mentioned. The first efforts will be focussed on depublishing the ruling.

    Sunniemom – The number of HSLDA members certainly had no significance in the outcome of this case, because the Long family chose not to contact any homeschooling groups during any of the trials.

    Jennifer – that’s a really good question, and hopefully one that will never have to be answered.

    Karen – Maybe. But I’m pretty sure it was a group of judges who didn’t know the private ed laws very well, and who were genuinely trying to help the Long children. Whatever the reason was, the efforts to fix this remain the same.

    Mentor – there are so many angles to see this, aren’t there? But you’re right, in our culture, 6-years-old is the age in which suddenly, parents are no longer capable of imparting their knowledge on their children. Shows you how highly we think of parents in this culture, doesn’t it?

    Mummy – Absolutely not. Your child is *2*. You have 4 years until you need to do anything. Give it a little bit of time for this to settle and then you’ll have a clearer view of what to do.

    Aldona – Ya. What you said. 🙂

    EeeeMommy and Amy – I’m going to be frank with you. It is stupid to pontificate on the million possible ways that this ruling can be bad for California. Anyone who is at least half-conscious can see that this ruling, if left standing as is, is bad. How exactly does it help to move forward by fixating on that?

    Shari – How did your family get past the nano-chip insert requirement at the hospital when your baby was born? I thought all law-abiding citizens were required to be implanted. What, do you have something to hide?

    Ike – good idea. I recommend passing along CHN’s and HSC’s website address (I prefer those because I am a member, but any website with good, non-sensationalist info would be good.)

    Teresa – It’s coincidence. One could even say irony.

    Maura – I think I’d prefer Canada myself. I love Canadians, eh.

    Frankie says “relax”. I think I’ve heard that somewhere before. Certainly sounds like a person to listen to. 🙂

  36. The Prudent Wife » California Homeschool Furor - PRIMARY SOURCE Websites and Docs! Says:

    […] It’s Not Illegal To Homeschool posted to Tammy’s blog. […]

  37. Jim Hoerricks Says:

    Nice post and outstanding comments. Thanks for getting the word out.

    Jim Hoerricks
    Author and homeschooling dad.

  38. Debbie Says:

    It’s funny how it said “attend private school or be tutored by CREDENTIALED teacher”…when private schools do not have to have credentialed teachers. So what is the difference then between a private school teacher who does not need to have a credential, and a non-credentialed parent? The ruling doesn’t make sense. If you want credentialed – then you have to change the law to require private schools to hire only credentialed teachers also.

  39. Wendy Wartes Says:

    When Washington was working on a legal option for homeschooling, in 1985, we were told by legislators not to depend on anything other than a solid home school law for protection. I clearly remember HSLDA having printed in their newsletter a paragraph, many years ago, saying that they would fight any effort to get a CA law. At the time I was baffled. Why would they not want all CA homeschoolers protected by an ironclad law? Then I learned that CA had more people sending membership fees to them than any other state. Those states that have a law, like WA, had very few members since homeschooling is legal and everyone, school districts and families, understand their legal rights and responsibilities. My advice would be to seriously look at why HSLDA fought a law, way back when, before asking them to help craft a solution now. Look to other states and model a law after one that has a good record of little or no lawsuits along with the maximum freedom. Be willing to give a little to get a little. In WA we started negotiating at parents needing a GED to HS knowing that wouldn’t fly but we were not willing to go to a certificate. We ended up with 45 college level credits or a class in HSing through a secondary institution. Overnight homeschool moms got approved to teach courses through bible colleges and community colleges to fill that need so no family could not homeschool independently. The word “level” was important to us but not to legislators. It meant any post high school course including Voc Tec, seminary etc. would count.
    So roll up your sleeves and get busy crafting a law. Invite legislators into your homes to discuss why you homeschool. Ignore those who would scare you into feeling you might be overregulated and look into the bottom line of naysaysers. Are they protesting because their business may be hurt if everyone can homeschool legally without their help?

  40. Tunya Audain Says:

    As a grandmother of the early home education movement in North America, naturally I was concerned about the recent court ruling in California which basically criminalized about 200,000 home schooling parents lacking teaching credentials. Hopefully, if it is not overturned by the Supreme Court, Governor Schwarzenegger has promised legislative remedy: “Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education.”
    I am very impressed by the extent and depth of feeling and outrage expressed by supporters of home education. But, I am disappointed at the hostility and shallowness of those who are opposed, either out of self-interest (teacher unions) or basic intolerance. (Just Google California home schooling ruling…)
    It is because this case even came up in 2008, and because the hostility and threat can be reasserted at any time, that I would like you to read my publication of 1987 which was useful in two ways: 1) to encourage home educators, and 2) to put the education establishment on notice about the legality and imperatives driving this movement. In the article I quote John Holt as saying:
    “Today freedom has different enemies. It must be fought for in different ways. It will take very different qualities of mind and heart to save it.”
    The article is referenced frequently, the latest in the Fraser Institute update: Home Education: from the Extreme to the Mainstream —
    My history in home education goes back to 1972 when, after being credentialed from a Teachers College, I traveled with my children to Mexico to study under Ivan Illich of deschooling fame.
    There I met with John Holt. He knew I had two young children with me, ages 3 and 5, and asked if I would be enrolling them in school soon. I said I might educate them at home.
    He thought this was illegal, but I said I found from my readings at Teachers College that the “otherwise” clause in most Education Acts allowed it.
    He then commented that at least I would be qualified to do it, having obtained a teaching certificate. Again, I enlightened him with the fact that this was not a requirement.
    He then posed the thoughtful but predictable question about socialization, and we chatted about the various community opportunities available and the negative aspects of socialization that parents wanted to avoid.
    His parting comment was: “Smart City!”
    Using his mailing list which he had used to encourage education reform, he soon embraced home education and in 1977 started a new publication, “Growing Without Schooling.
    Meanwhile, Dr. Raymond Moore was spreading the word (The Family Report) amongst his mainly Christian audience and paid frequent visits to Vancouver, especially when we held Home Learning Fairs.
    You can download the 5 page article: Home Education: the third option from the Canadian School Executive, & see concerns of 20 years ago reappearing today……

  41. Niken Says:

    I am not in California. But its sad to see law inforcement units are still struggling to understand the value of homeschooling.

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