Homeschoolers Dealt a Setback in California

March 7, 2008 — Leave a comment

I’ve never blogged about this issue–for a variety of reasons–but I feel compelled to comment on what I just read from a newspaper in San Francisco.

My wife and I participate in parent-directed education. I have two school-aged children. One is in Christian school now (making straight “A’s”), but she spent three years in the public school system (and had a great experience btw) before being homeschooled for the next four years. We now homeschool my other school-aged child.

I think it’s also important for you to know that we have a lot of friends (and relatives) who are teachers in the public school system. In my opinion these people are over-worked and under-paid and–from our experience–amazing teachers who deeply love their students. My wife and I decided to homeshool for personal, not political, issues.

I also think it’s important to note that my wife has a degree in education and I have a Master’s degree, so we feel very qualified to guide our children’s education.

My wife and I decide on whether, or not, to home school our children on a year-by-year and child-by-child basis. Our desire is always to do what is best for each child.

In an article posted today in the San Francisco Chronicle it was reported that, “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.”

You can read the rest of the article by clicking here: Homeschoolers’ setback in appeals court ruling.

There are two quotes in the article that I find especially troubling.

In making his ruling Justice H. Walter Croskey said (quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue), “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.”

This statement is consistent with statements I’ve read elsewhere on the purpose of public education.

This statement is from a PBS report entitled, The Story of American Public Education.

The purpose of public education has been affected by major changes in American society. These include economic transformations and the expansion of civil rights, which have had enormous effects on what goes on in the classroom. Added to these forces are others, including population growth, immigration, inner-city poverty, and school violence. Whenever there has been major social or economic change, the goals that were established for public education have changed. Over time, the following have all been goals of public education:

  • To prepare children for citizenship
  • To cultivate a skilled workforce
  • To teach cultural literacy
  • To prepare students for college
  • To help students become critical thinkers
  • To help students compete in a global marketplace

I think the “primary purpose” of the educational system should be education. I know that’s our goal as homeschooling parents.

The article ends with an interesting quote from Leslie Heimov, executive director of the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles. Heimov said her organization’s chief concern was not the quality of the children’s education, but their “being in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety.”

On behalf of all of the parents I know who are homeschooling their kids I’d like to let Leslie Heimov and Judge Crosky know that–unlike the Children’s Law Center–our chief concern IS the quality of our children’s education and–despite your low opinion of us–we think that our children are already being observed by people who have the primary duty of ensuring their ongoing safety. . . their parents!

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