Yesterday, the California Court of Appeals did something rather bizarre. They took a case that was about one set of parents who might or might not be neglecting or abusing their children....and used it to make homeschooling illegal.
Here is the official decision that was made
Here is a link to sign a petition to request that the California Supreme Court depublish the decision. What that basically means is -- the courts could've gone in two different directions with the action they took. First, the decision could've applied to this family alone. Or, the tact that they did take, they decided that their decision should effect all 250,000 homeschoolers in the state, and that possibly could have repercussions everywhere. As was said by Michael Ferris today "California leads the nation in some good things, and in many bad things." Asking the California State Supreme Court to depublish the decision would make it so the decision only effects the parents, but does not become official legislation. So please go sign....even if you are not a homeschooler. Even if you don't have kids. Let them know that the rest of the country disapproves of this decision.
California has taken several steps in recent times to strip parents of their rights to make decisions for their children or be involved in their education.
Private schools are required to teach evolution.
They have just passed SB777 (ironic #) that changes the way sexual education is taught from first grade all the way through high school that teaches that homosexuality is a beneficial lifestyle and it will even strip the words "mother," "father," "husband," and "wife," from all texts.
The ever-so-controversial Federal Ninth District Court ruled in Fields vs. Palmdale School District, that the parents' rights to decide for their children stops at the threshold of the school doors.
When children are enrolled in public schools, the parent has to sign a health form that allows the school to seek medical attention for the child without the parents' consent. One would think this would be to seek medical attention for injuries, even if the parent cannot be reached. Instead, it has been used to procure abortions for students.
As a person who has lived, worked, voted, volunteered, and homeschooled in California, I am greatly alarmed to find that at the drop of a hat, I could become a criminal, and would continue to be a criminal until I could move from the state, since I do not possess teaching credentials (and for that matter, neither do a good percentage of the teachers in the classrooms).
I have many issues with the decision....
The dependency court declined to make such an order despite the court’s opinion that the home schooling the children were receiving was “lousy,” “meager,” and “bad,” and despite the court’s opinion that keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children’s lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents’ “cloistered” setting.
I cannot speak to the conditions that the parents kept their children in. I have heard a number of stories about how DCS in California has badgered homeschoolers. I have two friends who have had DCS called on them by neighbors because they homeschooled. The social worker came in, looked around and left. But if these criteria are to be applied to all of us, I find it riduculous.
Pt. 1 - "they could interact with people outside the family" First of all, this family had eight kids. That is A LOT if interaction. They had to negotiate and share, look out for each other, and were constantly in an environment where they were around people that cared about them. The interaction that they had with each other HAD to be much more rich, much more involved than sitting in a classroom with 30 other students EXACTLY the same age, not being allowed to talk most of the time, and doing textbook work. That is a homogenous environment.
Pt. 2 - there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children’s lives, There are 250,000 homeschoolers in California. There are 10.5 million children in the state of California, according to the 2000 Census. Yes, the kids would have someone to go to for help, if they sought it out. But to apply this logic to why homeschooling should not be allowed is very bewildering. I would be underexaggerating excessively to say that there are at least five times as many abused and neglected children in California schools that will never be helped or spotted as there are homeschoolers all together. I think we all know it probably is much higher, despite these children being away from their parents' most of the day.
To treat all of us like we are abusers or neglecting our children is preposterous. The sacrifices that we are making for our children rather indicate that we are much more interested in their well-being than any teacher of 30 students ever could be, no matter what the best intentions would be. There are child abusers among us. There are a few that neglect their children's education. But the very nature of the commitment that we make to our children in order to homeschool demonstrates that there are far fewer children suffering from these tragedies among our ranks than in the general population as a whole.
And there are so many more kids that get left out and figuratively or literally battered in the schools, when they do not fit the mold that our current educational model is fit to. I would argue that very few kids, even those that enjoy school and prosper in it, wouldn't do better in a more personal environment that allows for their needs, encourages their creativity, and allows them to interact with their siblings, the very peopel that God meant for them to learn socialization skills with, rather than with children who are identical in age, in a completely artificial environment.
Pt. 3 - they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents’ “cloistered” setting Most homeschoolers are not isolated. They go to homeschool activities, they take part in church, they play sports, they do Scouts and/or 4-H, and SO MUCH MORE. Not only that, they are with their parents as their parents experience life, buying groceries, running errands, solving problems, volunteering or helping out our neighbor, and sometimes even helping us in our employment. Separating them out to learn in school all the time, rather than in life, and then to be absorbed in homework for hours at night takes away the time for learning real life skills and growing in the relationships that they have with those that truly love them. They don't have time to learn real life skills like managing a home and many other things.
There is so much more regarding this decision that I find appalling. This statement didn't get us past the first paragraph. But I am running out of room, and my husband is bringing the children back from the science museum.
I repeat, please go sign the petition, and pray for the homeschoolers in California while this matter is being decided. And if the thought strikes you, donate some money to Homeschoolers Legal Defense Association or to the legal organization that they work through in California.
It is an interesting thought, if I were still in California, today, I would be a criminal.