Monday, March 10

Homeschooling ruled illegal in California

I came across this article from the San Francisco Chronicle (the major newspaper from San Francisco). A California Court of Appeal ruled that under the state's education law, children were required to either be enrolled in full-time public or private schools or taught by credentialed tutors at home.

As a result of the ruling, an estimated 166,000 children could be considered truants and their parents could be subject to prosecution. If convicted, parents could face community service, hefty fines, or even the removal of their children from the home under the basis of educational neglect.

The decision in the case states that "parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children."

While the articles I have seen don't really define the terms, the court did apparently leave open the option of students participating in an independent study program of an accredited school. So homeschool programs affiliated with a brick-and-mortar school are still at least potentially legal in California.

I have to say, I have mixed feelings about this. Let me start by saying that when I was growing up, I spent time in all three options -- public schools, private schools and homeschool. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of home schooling. I felt like the program I used was not as strong academically as the public schools in Northwest Suburbs of Chicago where we lived. I understand why my parents chose that option, but it wasn't really the right thing for me.

I have known people over the years who were homeschooled and who received an excellent education that prepared them for college or whatever they wanted to do in life. On the other hand, I have known people who were home taught and received a very poor education. Rulings like the one in California would have the benefit of making sure that these kids don't fall through the cracks and that they really are receiving an education.

At the same time, there would take away a major choice for parents. Parents should be able to have a say in how their children are educated. There are places where the public schools are not very attractive options, either because they are of poor quality or because they teach topics or values that the parents are opposed to. In those cases, private schools are not always an option because of cost or transportation issues. Removing the homeschool option may essentially force these parents to send their children to public schools. In addition, for at least some students, the ability of homeschools to tailor their programs to the interests and aptitudes of their students allows these children to excel in a way that might not happen in a traditional school. So removing homeschools will hurt at least some students academically.

Like I said, I don't know exactly where I stand on this issue. But I do know that we haven't heard the last of it.

1 comment:

Tigpan said...

Yeah I am right there with you on the mixed feelings. For all of the reasons you stated and.... Obviously I understand about homeschooling (a product of it my alternative was boarding school). However, I do think that a good compromise here is simply for a parent to be required to go through some sort of accredidation process. The article did bring some fear to my heart though as it is just the beginning of the state trying to take over in the home.