Friday, March 07, 2008

All Your Rights Are Belong To Us

From the LA Times:

"Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children," wrote Justice H. Walter Croskey in a Feb. 28 opinion signed by the two other members of the district court. "Parents who fail to [comply with school enrollment laws] may be subject to a criminal complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction, and subject to imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and counseling program."

Uh, what? How is it possible that parents have the right to choose to send their kids to private schools - which are allowed to employ uncredentialed teachers - but can't home school them instead? And what about public schools that don't have credentialed teachers (or that have issued "emergency credentials" to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act)? Why is it okay that kids can be taught there, in classrooms of 25-35 students or more, but not receive home schooling one-on-one with a parent?

I was really puzzled at the ruling, though, of course, I'm not a lawyer. I'm hoping a state legislator will take up this cause to specifically address home schooling in California law and clear up the current confusion and angst. I'm not against regulating home schooling, but I do think the requirement for credentialing is absurd. It makes sense for basic curricula and standards to be set and met and I personally feel there should be an evaluative component. But aside from any of that, I strongly believe it should be the family's choice whether or not to home school.

(Disclaimer: I am both a product of public schools and the sister of a home school parent with brilliant though either of those things make me more or less qualified to enter this debate.)

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