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CA homeschooling illegal?

2008-03-07 20:04:21.307024+00 by Dan Lyke 11 comments

A court decision yesterday has sent shockwaves through California's homeschooling communities, the 2nd circuit California appeals court found that:

It is clear to us that enrollment and attendance in a public full-time day school is required by California law for minor children unless (1) the child is enrolled in a private full-time day school and actually attends that private school, (2) the child is tutored by a person holding a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught, or (3) one of the other few statutory exemptions to compulsory public school attendance ... applies to the child.

It's hard for me to argue that, in the specific circumstances of the case, the parents didn't need a little smackdown, and I've seen some truly horrendous things done in the name of home schooling, but the evil California Teachers Association is crowing about this, and given the horrific state of teacher credentialing in California, contacting your state legislator and getting 'em to change this situation seems like a good thing.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Law California Culture ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-07 20:41:57.053778+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

"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," the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.

Yep, never moving to CA.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-07 21:26:23.473633+00 by: Dan Lyke

And that distinguishes California's public educational system from those in the other 49 states how?

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-07 22:38:24.425077+00 by: ebradway

My mother said something recently that I found truly horrifying:

"If I were to raise you over again, I'd have home-schooled you and your brothers."

Don't get me wrong: I love my mother and I didn't exactly "enjoy" my public school education. But the thought of being couped up at home every day with my brothers and my mother trying to manage the gross differences in our learning styles... Well, I can't see how it would have been any better.

What sending me to school did was force me to learn to adapt to a system and make friends outside of the neighborhood. Ultimately, it helped me learn to seek out the educational opportunities I needed - something that benefits me to this day.

I think home schooling is harder than most people think. And I also think that many people don't give credit to the effort teachers put into developing pedagogy.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-08 07:02:55.680182+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

Dan, it distinguishes it because of the way they've mandated people can't opt-out of the state's system. PA (where I live) is pretty favorable to home schooling.

(We don't technically "home school" our kids, we use an online charter school.)

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-08 15:16:45.46271+00 by: Dan Lyke

Okay, but aside from this glitch, which it seems like there is political will to fix, that quote you pulled seems an accurate depiction of the notion of public school in general.

Which, I guess, means we mostly agree.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-10 11:41:54.36578+00 by: Dan Lyke

Eric, on yesterday's hike, Chris reminded me of Philip Greenspun's recent observations on yacht schooled children.

My experience was one of growing up far from the school I went to, but I hung out with neighbor kids. I probably would have adapted better socially if that included more than 4 or 5 people my age in the local square mile or two, but maybe not. I don't think a good learning environment that encourages intellectual exploration needs to feel cooped up.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-10 20:20:39.597773+00 by: ebradway

I guess my point is that some parents think they are doing their kids a favor by limiting their experiences. And I know many folk in the Southeast who home-school specifically to limit their kids' experiences. What the yacht-bound families were doing was specifically expanding their kids' experiences.

The larger problem is this mixed-up sense in society of never-do-well parents and ne'er-do-well parents - folks who are constant screw-ups by one estimation or another - and folks who are constantly trying to "fix" the situation for the kids of the never-do-wells through acts that border on the greatest violation of personal rights. As an adult, I find myself siding more and more with the Libertarians on these issues - unless someone is getting hurt - just leave folks alone to do their own thing. As a former child, I'm saying I'm glad my mother felt compelled to send me to school. Because of my personality quirks, I would have suffered if I were home-schooled.

And as far as society goes, I think we should just lay down some simple rules about what "someone is getting hurt" means and leave parents alone (hinting back to Libertarianism). My personal beliefs are: 1. kids a much more resilient than psychologists give them credit for, and 2. parents, even when they screw up, share a bond with their kids that is irreplaceable.

I also find interesting Greenspun's comment about the kids keeping up with two hours' effort. I would judge this to be about right. When I think back on grade school and estimate how much of the "full-time" day was spent doing productive learning, two hours seems quite high. Of course, this discounts the stuff I learned in between the "productive learning sessions" like navigating the Hispanic culture in an inner-city Texas school.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-10 20:39:17.676213+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, I can point to several instances of home schooling where I strongly believe that the parent(s) fucked up, and as some of those kids start to get to the age where they'll (hopefully) be responsible for themselves, I'd imagine that there'll be some serious resentment there.

On the other hand one of the (very) occasional hikers has a home schooled daughter whose name you may run across in the papers, she seems to have everything going her way, but then her parents are exactly the sort of parents who you'd expect to have an offspring who's becoming highly successful following her muse.

And, frankly, I'm pretty sure it's not actually possible to parent without messing something up, it's about minimizing the damage from the outliers on the low side, that's something we can either do through intervention or prison, and our use of prisons right now is so out of control that it's going to be really hard to tell for a long time where intervention is or isn't working.

On the two hours: Totally, and your comment about "navigating the ... culture" is both what public schools are actually about and what I continue to question the value of. One half of me believes that bringing children into the world of adult interaction early, rather than tossing them into the festering "lord of the flies" situations that evolve in high school, is the right way to go, the other half believes that the cynicism and disgust for humanity that high school often fosters in intelligent children is a useful tool.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-10 22:14:06.488164+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

A close friend of mine was homeschooled in California. When we met his mother, she talked about evading the authorities by setting up a "private school" that other home schoolers were "enrolled" in with her son. When the authorities called, she would check her list of cohorts and tell them if the person was attending her school or not.

At the time, I thought she was a little extreme. I thought "that was then, this is now" and that surely people have begun to accept home schooling.

And then I read the story in the article.

Will my own children astound or just confound? I've no idea right now. I hope more of the former.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-10 22:54:13.316368+00 by: Dan Lyke

Mark, I went to a private school in New York state for elementary school, and for some reason I remember at least being conscious that there were concerns about the educational authorities (possibly because their curriculum delayed reading for quite a bit beyond "the norm"). So, yeah, I wouldn't be at all surprised that such games are being played, I haven't delved too much into the legal mechanics of homeschooling here, but I'd guess that if they require such hoops they're not just California.

Not that that makes the need for any such shenanigans right, just that I'm pleasantly surprised that you're managing to get along without them, not that I'm shocked that California requires them.


On the (ast|conf)ound continuum, I rather suspect that my opinions on parenting issues in general extend to home schooling: If you're asking the questions in the first place, you're probably coming up with answers that I find preferable to the parenting norm.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-11 17:04:29.661513+00 by: ebradway

I guess I should temper my "navigating the culture" comment. My experiences in inner-city schools in Austin, Texas, were markedly different from my last two years at a small school in a very white, affluent Virginia community. By all the normative measures, the school in Virginia was "the better school" but my experiences were so bad (in a Lord of the Flies meets Ferris Bueler way) that I almost dropped out to get my GED. My saving grace was getting to spend half of each day my last year at another school studying physics and interning with NASA.

Schools are a social problem - and unless you have a homogeneous society, answers to social problems usually lack consistency. What works for one segment of society fails for another. Universal laws just aren't going to work - even to the extent of "universal education". As soon as you start defining "education", you start failing certain segments of society.