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Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA

 
Niccolò
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03/07/2008 10:58 AM
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Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
Homeschoolers' setback sends shock waves through 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.

The homeschooling movement never saw the case coming.

"At first, there was a sense of, 'No way,' " said homeschool parent Loren Mavromati, a resident of Redondo Beach (Los Angeles County) who is active with a homeschool association. "Then there was a little bit of fear. I think it has moved now into indignation."

The ruling arose from a child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long of Lynwood, who have been homeschooling their eight children. Mary Long is their teacher, but holds no teaching credential.

The parents said they also enrolled their children in Sunland Christian School, a private religious academy in Sylmar (Los Angeles County), which considers the Long children part of its independent study program and visits the home about four times a year.

The Second District Court of Appeal ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time public or private schools or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home.

Some homeschoolers are affiliated with private or charter schools, like the Longs, but others fly under the radar completely. Many homeschooling families avoid truancy laws by registering with the state as a private school and then enroll only their own children.

Yet the appeals court said state law has been clear since at least 1953, when another appellate court rejected a challenge by homeschooling parents to California's compulsory education statutes. Those statutes require children ages 6 to 18 to attend a full-time day school, either public or private, or to be instructed by a tutor who holds a state credential for the child's grade level.

"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.
Union pleased with ruling

The ruling was applauded by a director for the state's largest teachers union.

"We're happy," said Lloyd Porter, who is on the California Teachers Association board of directors. "We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting."

A spokesman for the state Department of Education said the agency is reviewing the decision to determine its impact on current policies and procedures. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell issued a statement saying he supports "parental choice when it comes to homeschooling."

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which agreed earlier this week to represent Sunland Christian School and legally advise the Long family on a likely appeal to the state Supreme Court, said the appellate court ruling has set a precedent that can now be used to go after homeschoolers. "With this case law, anyone in California who is homeschooling without a teaching credential is subject to prosecution for truancy violation, which could require community service, heavy fines and possibly removal of their children under allegations of educational neglect," Dacus said.

Parents say they choose homeschooling for a variety of reasons, from religious beliefs to disillusionment with the local public schools.

Homeschooling parent Debbie Schwarzer of Los Altos said she's ready for a fight.

Schwarzer runs Oak Hill Academy out of her Santa Clara County home. It is a state-registered private school with two students, she said, noting they are her own children, ages 10 and 12. She does not have a teaching credential, but she does have a law degree.

"I'm kind of hoping some truancy officer shows up on my doorstep," she said. "I'm ready. I have damn good arguments."

She opted to teach her children at home to better meet their needs.

The ruling, Schwarzer said, "stinks."
Began as child welfare case

The Long family legal battle didn't start out as a test case on the validity of homeschooling. It was a child welfare case.

A juvenile court judge looking into one child's complaint of mistreatment by Philip Long found that the children were being poorly educated but refused to order two of the children, ages 7 and 9, to be enrolled in a full-time school. He said parents in California have a right to educate their children at home.

The appeals court told the juvenile court judge to require the parents to comply with the law by enrolling their children in a school, but excluded the Sunland Christian School from enrolling the children because that institution "was willing to participate in the deprivation of the children's right to a legal education."

The decision could also affect other kinds of homeschooled children, including those enrolled in independent study or distance learning through public charter schools - a setup similar to the one the Longs have, Dacus said.

Charter school advocates disagreed, saying Thursday that charter schools are public and are required to employ only credentialed teachers to supervise students - whether in class or through independent study.
Ruling will apply statewide

Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said the ruling would effectively ban homeschooling in the state.

"California is now on the path to being the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their own children at home," he said in a statement.

But Leslie Heimov, executive director of the Children's Law Center of Los Angeles, which represented the Longs' two children in the case, said the ruling did not change the law.

"They just affirmed that the current California law, which has been unchanged since the last time it was ruled on in the 1950s, is that children have to be educated in a public school, an accredited private school, or with an accredited tutor," she said. "If they want to send them to a private Christian school, they can, but they have to actually go to the school and be taught by teachers."

Heimov said her organization's chief concern was not the quality of the children's education, but their "being in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety."
Online resources

The ruling: To view the ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal, go to links.sfgate.com/ZCQR.

E-mail the writers at begelko@sfchronicle.com and jtucker@sfchronicle.com.

[link to www.sfgate.com]
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:phamask:
GraftedPromise USofA
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03/07/2008 12:04 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
I wonder what they will decide?

Stay? or Go? And then "to where"?

Here in Wisconsin we have the right to teach our own children what we know is important and the right to not teach what we believe is wrong.

We home educate our children and they ARE NOT shielded from the world. They know very well what the world is.

CA parents maybe have to flee while the fleeing is possible!
Anonymous Coward
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03/07/2008 12:10 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
So much for the "Land of the Free". We homeschool our four children so that they can learn REAL history among other things. This is nothing but confirmation of how corrupt our country is. This isn't the end of the line in CA. I'm sure there will be an astounding uprising of freedom-loving patriots that will end this maddness!
Anonymous Coward
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03/07/2008 12:13 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
Holy crap! Nice find OP, what a bunch of bullshit, so all kids are now forced to go to the concentration camps, err, I mean schools regardless of what the parents want? Sounds like...........NAZI's!!
Hanged Man

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03/07/2008 12:32 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
Judges cannot, especially subversive judges, write law, make law, or tell a Sovereign what to do. Know your Rights!

Play their game in the courts as a 2nd class citizen and you'll always get screwed.
hangedman123@gmail.com
Anonymous Coward
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03/07/2008 12:37 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
Here in Wisconsin we have the right to teach our own children what we know is important and the right to not teach what we believe is wrong.

 Quoting: GraftedPromise USofA 387587



For how much longer? CA law usually sets a trend for the rest of the country.

Americans need to respond to this quickly and loudly if they don't want this plague to spread.
Anonymous Coward
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03/07/2008 12:39 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
If you don't send them to Brainwashing School... how can they get obedient little serfs?
voodoochile

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03/07/2008 12:43 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
i saw it coming, the gov't couldn't have liked all that control taken from them where parents could teach their own children, they have a nazi agenda to maintain ya know. i'm surprised they haven't thrown in a monkey wrench before now.
the "emperors" have no clothes!
Anonymous Coward
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03/07/2008 12:55 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
bump
Anonymous Coward
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03/07/2008 05:13 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
bump bump
Anonymous Coward
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03/07/2008 05:13 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
If you don't send them to Brainwashing School... how can they get obedient little serfs?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 380499


Y U P
Anonymous Coward
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03/07/2008 05:17 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
fascism in another form...get ready for the big R in evolution if you know what I mean
Anonymous Coward
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03/07/2008 05:20 PM
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Re: Homeschool Ban Sends Shockwaves In CA
Heimov said her organization's chief concern was not the quality of the children's education, but their "being in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety."

And obviously, their parents don't qualify.

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