Saturday, March 8, 2008

Homeschooling Ruled Unconstitutional

"No, sir or ma'am, you do not have the right to decide what is best for your children. All children must receive the same state-sponsored and approved education, regardless of background or belief. Don't worry, the state will take indoctrina . . . err, educating your children very seriously. By the time they graduate, they will have revisionist history, white guilt, and sex-ed (condomania) down to a science and be perfectly prepared for the unpatriotic, irreverent college of their choice. Speaking of science (and math, and English...), they can pick that up later . . . if they want it."

Are you prepared to take this from your judicial system? The California Appellate Court sure hopes so. In a headline-making decision, the court has decided that most forms of homeschooling are contrary to California state law and that "parents possess no constitutional right to homeschool their children." Students, instead, must be taught by state-certified teachers. This has, of course, started quite an uproar. With many families thinking about leaving the state altogether. The Homeshooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has announced that the family whose case sparked the ruling will be appealing to the California Supreme Court. The HSLDA will be filing an amicus brief concerning the ruling with the court on behalf of its many clients. This brief will build a case that the Appellate Court was infringing on parents' educational and religious rights.

Governor Schwarzenegger also showed his support for the homeschooling community when he offered this statement,
Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children's education. This outrageous ruling must be over-turned by the courts and if the courts don't protect parents' rights then, as elected officials, we will.

The route for this issue is to the California Supreme Court, then to the Federal Supreme Court. If both uphold the decision, then it will begin to be enforced. Children will be forced to attend public or private schools. Parents who do not comply may then face criminal charges. Debbie Schwarzer of the Homeschool Association of California's legal team says, "Parents involved in a truancy prosecution might face criminal charges, but only after a rather lengthy series of hearings and court orders, and only if the parents failed to comply with the orders."

The only other ways around public/private school attendance is: (1) for parents to be educated and licensed as teachers and keep credentials that the state mandates (the problems are that the state has the power to decide whether or not one has the right credentials and that parents must basically set their household up as a private school); (2) parents can form associations where there are state-accredited and association-approved instructors (these instructors may face the same problems as #1); (3) parents can apply pressure on their elected officials to change state/federal laws (it is my recommendation that parents in other states find out what the laws are in their state and contact their representatives before this fight arrives on their doorstep).

There are benefits and problems to each of these options. The last option is probably the safest one as it does not play into the activist judges' hands. Unfortunately it does allow liberal senators to amend, veto and filibuster proposals and bills. We could have a very long fight on our hands. In the end it will be the children who will suffer. Each parent must ask the question for his/her own family, "Who do I want making decisions about what my child will learn, ultimately shaping who they will be as adults; the government or me?"

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