California's Second District Court of appeals ruled on February 28 that homeschooling is illegal in California for parents without credentials. I have several problems with this:
- The state of California does not require private school teachers to have credentials, which means this ruling demands more of homeschooling parents than it does of other private educators.
- Not every child benefits from classroom instruction. Some need a level of personal attention that is simply not available , even in the most well-run classroom with the most brilliant of credentialed teachers. Any credentialed teacher worth his or her salt is aware of this--the fact that every child learns differently is repeatedly emphasized in most reputable teaching programs.
- Many parents home school because they lack the means to send their children to private institutions, and do not believe the public schools available to them will meet the needs of their children for developmental, academic, or ideological reasons. If this ruling goes into effect, only the wealthy will be able to choose whether their children are publicly or privately educated. Can we say class discrimination?
- Home schooling, as it is done in most households I am aware of, is a full time activity for the parents, especially when multiple children are involved.
- California does not give lifetime teaching credentials. Every five years, California credential holders must apply to renew their certificates. This requires at least one semester of employment in a school, in addition to the completion of professional development hours. In order to maintain their credentials, homeschooling parents would be forced to spend at least several months every five years outside the home (and therefore unable to spend sufficient time educating their own children) in order to maintain their certification.
- Did I mention that credential programs cost massive amounts of time and money? Another difficulty for homeschooling families who make financial sacrifices so one parent can stay home and educate their children. I don't even want to mention how much I had to take out in loans to pay for mine. Let's just say I'm still paying them off, and not even close to being done. Not even by half.
- Credentials do not gaurantee quality teachers. Lack of credential does not mean a person has no teaching skills. As G.K. Chesterton so eloquently put it, "There are two kinds of charlatan: the man who is called a charlatan, and the man who really is one. The first is the quack who cures you; the second is the highly qualified person who doesn't."
- Education is most beneficial when it is backed up with lessons in self-discipline, hard work, and love of learning at home. Parents, regardless of their own educational level, who do not behave as parents are going to raise ignorant children whether they choose home, public, or private education. I have personally witnessed copious examples of this problem in kids who are taught in all three of these venues.
According to the San Francisco Gate, this ruling has received applause from the California Teacher's Association (CTA) During my days as a (reluctant) member of this illustrious organization, I witnessed in its members displays of unbridled contempt for parents, especially those who home school. In keeping with this pattern, CTA also opposes laws requiring parental consent (or even merely informing parents) before a minor obtains an abortion).
Never mind the sub-prime mortgage crisis. If I were home schooling in California right now, I would leave the state fast if this were not quickly overturned by a higher court, or overruled by legislation.
I wouldn't count on legislation, though. Most of the members of the California legislature are on the same page as the CTA.
I am also forced to wonder if the ruling might have been different if the family concerned chose to homeschool because they found the public system too Christian or too conservative?
In the News:
San Francisco Gate
Los Angeles Times
California Catholic Daily
In the blogs:
The opinions for In re RACHEL L. et al. are available to the public at Courtinfo.ca.gov
Read the original opinion in this ruling in PDF format or as a Word document (*.doc). (I may post some more specific responses to this in the near future)
Tip of the ruler to: Amy, Tito