Time says about 200,000 children are home-schooled in California, while The San Francisco Chronicle gives the figure as 166,000. Neither source mentions where they got their figures, but I can tell you from experience with other parents that at least three times that number are flying under the radar.
Parents are simply not reporting their children to their school district. Unlike others, these non-reporters do not trust the state authorities to protect their children in a public school environment and trust even less the arbitrary nature of the law when it comes to the treatment of children.
This past week a California appeals court ruling proved the distrust of the scofflaws to be correct:
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.
As a former home-schooler, I never quite believed The Bureaucrats wouldn’t shut us down on a whim…
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School unions are very powerful, even if their education skills leave something to be desired. When we submitted our bureaucratic forms to the local county agency, our approval to home school came back approved – and with serious spelling and grammatical errors – but signed by one of the people with Teaching Credentials.
In America, it does not matter if you are skilled enough to teach, it matters only that you are “credentialized” to do so. Thus:
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. [my emphasis]
“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.”
The judge says otherwise:
“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.
It doesn’t matter that the “educational” “system” is often unsafe, lacking basic hygiene facilities, and dangerous to students.
Who on God’s green earth wants to send their child to a school where the presence of the police is necessary to ensure order? Who wants their children to endure these conditions when they can learn safely at home? Here’s a report from 2002:
Despite clearly unsafe and unsanitary conditions in public schools in California and in Dade County, Florida, students and teachers have been required to work in those schools for years while school officials have done nothing to address the problems.
On May 17 , the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class action lawsuit against the state of California, contending “appalling conditions” regarding safety, sanitation, and educational resources violated the state constitution’s guarantee of a free and equal public education for all. Broken windows, falling ceiling tiles, vermin infestation, leaky roofs, non-functioning toilets, broken HVAC systems, and lead in drinking fountains plague many of California’s public schools, according to the suit.
… a class action lawsuit was [also] brought against the Miami-Dade County School Board, calling on the board to correct and remedy “life-threatening violations of fire safety and other safety code requirements” detailed in the State Requirements for Educational Facilities (SREF). The lawsuit noted the school board “is aware of the violations and has in many circumstances failed and refused to correct them.”
“The School Board’s action and inaction have created a dangerous environment for Plaintiff’s children in that the students are required to attend schools that contain numerous serious violations of the SREF regulations, which constitutes the fire and safety code for state schools.”
These are the reasons many families have sacrificed the income that would be generated by two working parents in order to have one stay home and teach the kids. What is the point of creating so-called “wealth” when your child comes home with questionable ideas and very little solid learning?
As for schools teaching what the judge claims they do – “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” – try asking a youngster to sing the national anthem or to recite The Pledge of Allegiance, both of which were part of the school morning routine back when public schools produced educated children. Better yet, find out how many recent high school graduates have registered to vote. Or for that matter, if they even know who their governor, senators, or congressional representative are. See if they can tell you who is campaigning for office this year and what office they are seeking.
The results of your small survey will be disheartening. Some sample answers I’ve gotten: “oh, I don’t pay attention to that stuff.” Or, “it doesn’t matter to me.” My favorite so far is “vote for what?” One child said, hopefully, “could I learn about this?”
When it comes to an awareness of civic responsibility, our public schools have a miserable record. We feel fortunate if no one comes into the schools and shoots the students. What does it matter if they learn American history, math, or science as long as they get out alive?
And by the way, ask to see the history book you child is using. If it’s from a teachers’ union government school it is full of grievance issues dressed up as the correct paradigm. Every child can tell you about Harriet Tubman, but none of them know the Gettysburg Address or The Emancipation Proclamation.
Of those three subjects, Harriet Tubman has the most google hits. That fact would distress Tubman no end. She would be alarmed that so few children could even hazard a guess about the dates of the Civil War.
Fortunately, California’s governor is not sympathetic to this ruling. He has vowed to fight it in court and in the legislature:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denounced a state appeals court ruling that severely restricts homeschooling and promised to change the law if necessary to guarantee that parents are able to educate their children at home.
“Every California child deserves a quality education, and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children,” Schwarzenegger said in response to the ruling, which said children educated at home must be taught by a credentialed teacher.
“Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education,” Schwarzenegger said. “This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts, and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will.”
If you want to see a good curriculum used by homeschoolers and foreign service parents overseas, go here. We especially liked the Maths books at Calvert – serious business and not a politically correct picture to be seen in any of them. Just math and more maths.
Hat Tip: The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid