Homeschooling Banned in CA?

On February 28, 2008 the Second District Court of Appeal ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time public or private schools or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home. Specifically, California's compulsory education statutes require children ages 6 to 18 to attend a full-time day school, either public or private, or to be instructed by a tutor who holds a state credential for the child's grade level. This seems to be news to the ~166,000 children who are apparently truant and whose parents risk prosecution.

The ruling was in response to a child welfare dispute with one family in Los Angeles County that homeschools their eight children, but who are not registered with the state as a private school, which is how many families get around the law. Their opinion is not new, and the 3-0 ruling sites cases in 1953 and 1961 reiterating that parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children.

California might be the only state to make homeschooling illegal, if it started prosecuting families not in compliance with the law. I have to say I have feelings on both sides of this issue - I know homschooled kids who are below grade level academically and I know of a few who have soared into top-notch colleges - but underneath it all - I believe kids deserve an education that teaches them how to be good citizens, and will give them the opportunity to participate in our economy at whatever level they choose to in the future. What do you think?

Photo credit: van Rijn
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