March 07, 2008
by: jovial_cynic

image: Schoolhouse Modern (cc) A.J. Kandy

It appears as though a recent ruling California has just made homeschooling illegal in the state.

A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.


"California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. "Parents have a legal duty to see to their children's schooling under the provisions of these laws."

Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.

"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare," the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.

(emphasis mine)

I'm kind of on the fence about this one. On the one hand, I think that public education is woefully inadequate, and that parents who are able to educate their children at a higher level should do so. Additionally, the idea of indoctrinating kids with "patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation" sounds like it came straight from the 1984 handbook. That's quite a step down from the democratic ideal of providing education for everybody, and into the realm of force-feeding our children with a state identity.

On the other hand, I'm concerned that too many parents are "homeschooling" their children and not actually doing any schooling. I know some people who were homeschooled and came out perfectly well -- they were well educated, well socialized, and continue to contribute to society today. But I also know of situations where homeschooled children were not properly educated and socialized, perpetuating a welfare situation as the children did not grow up to become productive members of society.

That the state should require education to come from a person with teaching credentials is not unreasonable. It seems like a small price to pay in order to increase the likelihood that children are receiving a minimum level of education. Additionally, many parents who homeschool are involved in a homeschooling co-op, and in that scenario, only one parent needs to have the teaching credentials.

The California law does not require that children go to public school. It requires that parents who wish to teach have the credentials to do so. I think that responsible parents should have no problem with this law.


The Conservative Manifesto said:
Ha! We agree.

I actually heard about this last Sunday at church, and searched out the articles as I wanted to know the details.

I'm -dare I say- on the fence, as well.

March 07, 2008

Luke said:
Yeah I'm not too happy about this one. Parents are the ones who have the rights as to their children's education. The public school are what they are and an alternative must be given besides private school which (in this economy) would be difficult to pay for.

I've yet to meet someone who is home-schooled who grew up to be less educated or adjusted. In fact the ones I do know usually had a higher level of socialization than I did (talking at a more adult level anyway).

This isn't the case for all, but then again nothing's perfect and I'm not for forcing families to basically choose one and only one option that in some areas of the country that are woefully inadequate.

I don't like government controlling how families raise their children. Some families don't do enough, for certain, but then again we wouldn't be a free country if government forced us to do everything a certain way would we?

March 08, 2008

Kendra said:
So, I don't like when someone tells me when I can or cannot do something. But I am one of those kids that was home schooled and did not become a smarter person for it. It actually hurt me more by being home schooled for a few years in high school, than by being in a public school.

I love my mom, but she was not really qualified to home school me. I liked being home schooled because I got away with not doing the work, and I got to watch TV! We called it my recess time, I loved Lavern and Shirley! :)

So, I'm not sure what I think of this... I hate when the government tells me when I can't do something. But yet, I was a kid who might have just been better off in the school system then at home watching tv.

March 08, 2008

Luke said:
Good point Kendra. I wasn't say though that all kids would be better off being home schooled. Just that we should have the freedom as parents to choose to home school our kids if we want that.

It may not always be better for the kid, but it sometimes (probably more often than not) is better for them.

I say the parents should be able to decide because ultimately it's about the government chipping away at another piece of our family and our freedom. Of course that's just my opinion and I know that after talking about it with Rayna we both decided that we wanted our kids to go to public school so they could be a light in a dark place. But again for some kids that just isn't the best thing for them. I can think of a few people who were better off because of special needs they had or personality conflicts where public education would hinder them.

March 08, 2008

jovial_cynic said:
Luke - as I said before, I think the law is less about forcing kids into public school, and more about making sure that education comes from people with credentials. If parents are serious about home schooling their kids, they should be willing to jump through the hoop of getting a teaching certificate or hiring someone who has one.

It's like driving -- a license is required to operate a motor vehicle on the road. That's not the government trying to chip away freedoms -- that's just making sure that people have received the proper training. I think it makes perfect sense.

March 08, 2008

Luke said:

I just think that all of these types of controls start out with good intentions. Then again so does Socialism and Communism. One at a time our freedoms are chipped away until we look back and wonder what happened?

March 09, 2008

jovial_cynic said:
Well, the neocons are just as good at chipping away our freedoms, in the name of good intentions like "security" and "protection." I certainly don't think this is a left/right issue.
March 10, 2008

Luke said:
Well that's true to a point. But security and provision for an economy is the purpose of government in the first place, not education, welfare, healthcare, etc... Given the recent status of the threats on freedom from terrorists the alternative is not too 'happy-making' to consider since we'd have to worry more. We've intercepted several major terror plots since 911 because of those security measures. I for one do not care about the added security because I'm not who they're looking for anyway.
March 10, 2008

Kristen said:
On the other hand...

Credentials can be pretty difficult to come by in some states. Here in WA, the example of Bill Gates is constantly used: the guy is brilliant, but he wouldn't be able to teach math or computer science here because he doesn't have a degree.

It can take up to five years to get a teaching credential (which must be continuously updated with more and more money to the state). That could be a huge burden on some families and parents. Some parents may want to purposely avoid having someone who was educated by the state teach their child; should that be their right?

And I think we all know credentialed teachers who were neither qualified nor passionate about teaching. Unfortunately, having a credential doesn't necessarily make you qualified.

March 10, 2008

jovial_cynic said:
"But security and provision for an economy is the purpose of government in the first place, not education, welfare, healthcare, etc... "

I completely disagree, Luke.

Kristen - In Washington state, you are absolutely right; it's a lot of work to get teaching credentials. If California's recent law passed in Washington, I could it being very difficult to homeschool. Although, I can't imagine that it would be difficult to organize a co-op to hire someone with those credentials. And I believe that many states allow for a tax-voucher for parents who don't want to use the public system; that money could go towards hiring someone as well. Again - it'd have to be in a co-op situation, where parents could put the money together... but I think it'd work out. I imagine that potential private teachers are already staking out the situation in California to capitalize on that.

Also - not every teacher is educated "by the state." I could have gotten my MIT at Evergreen, I think the school's diverse program lends away from the notion of indoctrination-teaching. If *I* got my teaching certification, I don't think that I'd consider myself educated "by the state."

March 10, 2008

Kristen said:
I knew after I hit submit that my "by the state" note was going to cause confusion. Sorry about that. But regardless of where you get your credential, the state sets the requirements and is part of the continuing education requirements to be a teacher. And even if you wouldn't consider yourself indoctrinated or educated by the state per se, you would still have some parents choose to not have someone with the state's stamp of approval educate their child based on any number of perceptions("the state's requirements are too rigorous/not rigorous enough;" "I don't want to support the WEA/NEA by directly paying a unionized teacher"; "teachers don't know how to work with my gifted/troubled/disabled child;" "I can do a better job;" "I want to teach every subject from the Bible;" etc.).

(Some parents would say just going to Evergreen is enough to make them want to keep you away from their children--big smile :) there. Ya know I love ya.)

A co-op wouldn't be difficult to organize in more populous regions, but in many rural communities where many homeschoolers live, it would be. Some people in these rural communities homeschool because the quantity or quality of the credentialed teachers in the schools is already so poor. Of course, the power of the internet may help some alleviate some of that problem--if you could have a long-distance "virtual" tutor (Washington is already doing this a little--, that could help with some of that. Some parents would still fight that though; they'd rather have the state butt out.

Unfortunately, I don't see school vouchers happening anytime soon. They are usually soundly defeated as ballot measures and are opposed by nearly every teachers union in our nation ( When they are implented in cities and states (Milwaukee; Florida), they are immediately challenged in the courts.

March 10, 2008

jovial_cynic said:
I didn't even consider the online tutor. That actually seems like a fantastic workaround to the problem.
March 10, 2008

Luke said:
I completely disagree with your disagreement of my opinion. ;-)

So if the purpose of government is NOT security (i.e. military and police for protection of people) or provision of an economy (which in a free country that does not tax its people 50%+ of their income, makes the security possible in the first place); how does a government provide things like welfare (bleah), education, healthcare, yadda yadda?

It seems to me that if you don't put security first you'll end up losing your economy (i.e. look at what 911 did to our economy). And without that goverment healthcare (which would cost trillions) is never gonna happen, welfare isn't going to happen, education with suffer severely, etc...

Maybe I'm making some assumptions about your opinion on government so I'll let you expound on that.

March 13, 2008

jovial_cynic said:
I don't disagree that security and provision for an economy are responsibilities of the government. But you seemed to indicate that "education, welfare, healthcare, etc..." were not the purpose of the government.

Perhaps I misunderstood you.

In any event, I think that social well being is no less important than economic well being and security.

Here's the rough breakdown of my views: government is a macrocosm of community. It's just... bigger. At the community level, the interested parties are the people themselves, and the social well-being of the community is paramount. Ideally, larger communities split into smaller ones that eventually grow. Instead of having one body rule over them all, it's just as socially viable to have multiple "tribes" interacting and trading and forming the market layer, which is where the economic piece fits in. And it's only after the market layer is established that security becomes necessary, because the goods/services moved by that market layer need to be protected by that security layer. When maintained in that order, the economic and security pieces fit in. However, when not maintained in that order, the economic and security layers end up functioning to perpetuate their own existence, and not to serve the core as originally intended. It's no longer an organic extension of humanity, but rather is mechanical and cold, and dreadful.

The core is the people, and their social well being is the root of all of this. When wars are fought in the name of "freedom" (appealing to the core) but are really extensions of that economic layer, pushed by that security layer, the whole system has gone rather topsy turvey; the US is now directly and indirectly responsible for more Iraqi civilian deaths than Saddam. Lives were wasted in the name of the economy layer and security layer. That's completely backwards. It's like that whole thing I've said before: when the "good guys" are responsible for the death of 100 innocent lives while trying to kill the "bad guys" who are responsible for the death of 50 innocent lives, doesn't something seem askew?

So placing security and economy at the helm seems backwards for me; they should be the after effect of a thriving community, not the infrastructure in which the community is confined.

March 13, 2008

Luke said:
I don't completely disagree with that. Except that security serves to only protect the economic/market layer. Without security an economic/market layer cannot even come to exist (for long) without a security layer having made a safe zone for it to thrive in the first place, and having established independence from other governments who might desire control over it.

Take our inception for instance. Colonial times before an establishment of a United States had no real market layer except in a survivalist sense (food, shelter, clothing). The people first needed to establish independance from Great Britain who was sending military forces to establish it's ownership and control of the new land. It was crucial for the colonials to resist this for the sake of freedom from foreign control. I don't think that the market layer had much to do with that.

However today our market capitalistic economy has come to be inextricably intertwined with our security since we go to war to protect our "interests" in resources, oil, etc...

So I guess you're right as well.

I love you...

March 14, 2008

jovial_cynic said:
Step back from the macro view, and scope it back down to the community. I weld metal figurines and I sell them to people. People give me money, and I provide a service/good, and this is entirely possible without security. I am willing to extend my service over the internet and accept payments, but for that, I do require a layer of security. But the security isn't necessary for the transaction to occur -- it's necessary for the payment to occur over a traditionally insecure route (ie., the internet). If I was selling my wares from one village to another, I might employ some security (either by hired guards or by insurance) to protect the shipment. But I don't have to.

One might argue that an expansion of the market invites a certain amount of risk, and security and insurance are really just extensions of loss-mitigation. As you stated, the US is very interested in protecting its interests, whether they be oil, or intellectual property, etc. It's there to preserve the market layer.

But again -- the security layer is an institution now, and it is primarily interested in self-preservation. It's just there to perpetuate its own existence.

Also, I think it's weird to defend the colonists' position against England, but not defend the Palestinian's position against Israel. Foreign control? Occupation? And when we think about the US role in various middle-eastern countries, do you suppose that the US is accurately represented by the colonists or by England in this comparison?

March 14, 2008

Luke said:
Well said.

Maybe explain what you mean by the Palestinian's position first. Since Israel was there before them, and Palestine has never been a nation I'm not sure that the two are all that interrelated.

March 15, 2008

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