I have been looking at the filed brief of the California Court case that "outlaws" homeschooling. See it here. It's very interesting.
One of the first things that stands out, to me, is this statement:
"However, California courts have held that under provisions in the
Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children."
I wasn't aware that California's educational code was capable of defining the limits of the rights of individuals outlined in The U.S. Constitution. But then the U.S. Constitution doesn't specifically address parental rights, nor does it include provision for the public instruction of children. Perhaps, having recognized from Mr. Blackwell's writings the uniqueness at that point in history of having one's children actually counted as one's own rather than the property of the king or government, they could not conceive of a time when a free citizenry would willingly part with that right. Perhaps they considered it so basic as to not require specific inclusion among our "unalienable rights". (No, I will not address in this post the fact that wives and servants were also considered property under those laws as that has been addressed by our current system of laws already.) Perhaps, our founders thought, as do I, that since children used to be considered the property of the state or ruler, but were no longer considered so under the English common law at the time of the Revolutionary War, they should therefore fall under the category of personal property. Property of the parents, not the state.
Or, perhaps this statement is referring to California's state constitution.( A constitution, which, as far as I could see, contained no prohibition against homeschooling.)
The first section of California's Constitution states:
"SECTION 1. All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy."
It could be argued that homeschooling is a way of protecting and caring for one's property and therefore the right to homeschool should be protected under the U.S. Constitution's 14th amendment. (I grant you, however that I am not a lawyer, and this brings up sticky questions like "How can my child be a citizen as well as property?". I don't know the answer to that question, but I think we need to be about the business of finding out or amending our Constitution to assure us of our parental rights, soon. )
The ruling quotes Turner v. People of the State of California (1954) 347 U.S. 972 [98 L.Ed. 1112, 74 S.Ct. 785]., upon which much of this ruling is based, with this:
” Turner also held that the subject former statutes were neither arbitrary nor
unreasonable when they required that teachers in private full-time day schools only be “persons capable of teaching” and did not have to hold a valid teaching credential for the grade being taught, but did require that a home tutor hold such a credential. The court observed that whereas it is unreasonably difficult and expensive for a state to supervise parents who instruct children in their homes, supervising teachers in organized private schools is less difficult and expensive. (Turner, supra, 121 Cal.App.2d Supp. at p. 867.)"
Does this mean that the reasoning behind forcing a homeschooling parent in California to hold teaching credentials stems wholly from the argument that it is less convenient and more expensive for the state if they don't? It further states that a teacher in a public school does not have to have teaching credentials, but must only be a person capable of teaching. (Once again I am forced to recognize that the path to destruction often begins with convenience.)
This seems to be saying that the state of California is insisting that homeschooled children must have access to better(i.e. certified) teachers than public school children. It seems that in the state of California I must be better educated to teach my own child at no cost to the state than to teach someone else's children for a salary. But wait! There's more to this exercise in absurdity. The case goes on to say:
"The court stated California’s
legislative scheme makes no such exemption to attendance in a public school. (Turner,
supra, 121 Cal.App.2d Supp. at p. 868-869; accord Shinn, supra, 195 Cal.App.2d, at
p. 694, where the court stated that “[h]ome education, regardless of its worth, is not the legal equivalent of attendance in school in the absence of instruction by qualified private tutors.”)"
So, if a parent is not a "qualified private tutor", they are not capable of administering the legal equivalent (please note, it says legal equivalent, not educational equivalent or even qualitative equivalent.) of attendance in a public school system whose teachers are not required to hold teaching credentials? . Does this make sense to anyone else? Legal equivalent. Is this what our society has come to? The quality of a child's education is dependent upon the convenience of the state "regardless of it's worth"? I find this very odd, especially in view of the fact California's state Constitution has been amended (Article 1 section 7)in regard to busing school children to different districts(I think)to say:
"In amending this subdivision, the Legislature and people of the State of California find and declare that this amendment is necessary to serve compelling public interests, including those of making the most effective use of the limited financial resources now and prospectively available to support public education, maximizing the educational opportunities and protecting the health and safety of all public school pupils, enhancing the ability of parents to participate in the educational process, preserving harmony and tranquility in this State and its public schools, preventing the waste of scarce fuel resources, and protecting the environment."
Wouldn't homeschooling serve the "compelling public interest" in these ways far more effectively than public schools?
There is more, but let me add one last note. In the article posted at the San Francisco Chronicle's web-site, there is a comment that just about sums up this case for me. It is an appalling comment from Leslie Heimov, executive director of the Children's Law Center of Los Angeles who represented two of the children in this case. (I'm guessing the children had representation because they were minors and so it was assigned to them to guard their "best" interests, but am unsure of the particulars of California law.)
"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."
It doesn't sound like the quality of a child's education in California is the state's main concern either. It sounds very much like the state's main concern is having the right to treat the children of their citizens as the property of the state.
In my mind, the people who have the greatest interest in ensuring the ongoing safety of their children are their parents.