EDUCATION IN CALIFORNIA
March 07, 2008
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.
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.