A California appeals court ruling has just made parents who home schooled their kids criminals (if they don't have teaching credentials). Here's the story that sent a shockwave through the homeschooling movement:
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.
Some homeschoolers are affiliated with private or charter schools, like the Longs, but others fly under the radar completely. Many homeschooling families avoid truancy laws by registering with the state as a private school and then enroll only their own children.
Yet the appeals court said state law has been clear since at least 1953, when another appellate court rejected a challenge by homeschooling parents to California's compulsory education statutes. Those 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.
"California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. "Parents have a legal duty to see to their children's schooling under the provisions of these laws."
Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.
Link (Photo: Michael Macor / Chronicle)
This is basically a master's degree program, and isn't required for teachers in private schools. It may not be required for public school teachers either (I haven't found out California requirements, but nothing more than a bachelor's degree and a short side program is needed here).
Public schools. Some public schools are better than others, but in general I'd usually compare them to juvenile delinquent programs. This isn't everyone's experience, but since my parent's divorce most days I'd come home in tears after the bus dropped me off: First grade, second grade, third grade. Teachers do nothing about bullying. And I was bullied for years. I went back to public school for Junior High and my first year of high school and found that nothing had changed. The thought of making public school mandatory with tight exceptions of the rule makes me suck my breath in and stare in horror.
Private schools. Private schools were better, but still not perfect. My grades improved dramatically, but still I wasn't good with people. Even so, finally (at the age of ten) I'd managed to make some friends. I attended this private school for two years.
Independent home school. Probably the most interesting period of my life. I was thirteen, and after experiencing the hells of New Jersey junior high my mother decided that she couldn't take putting me through that any longer. History turned into an extensive Revolutionary war time line with car trips to see all of the local sites like the Delaware crossing and the plaques marking the Christmas attack of Princeton on the British. Literatures was watching 'Much Ado About Nothing' (public school had never even touched Shakespeare before) over and over until I finally got the language and began studying the classics properly. However, my mother wasn't very good with math, and I had to regulate learning that myself out of textbooks. All of the work that I did every day was documented to the best of my mother's ability (though she can be a little scatter-brained at times when it comes to organization (and I say this in love)). This is also the year that I decided to sit down, and I wrote my first fantasy novel. We home-schooled this way for half of a year before interrupted by yet another move, and this one across the country with different state laws regarding how we did things.
A note to the left-wing extremists that seem to be highly vocal about this. Creationists will teach their children religion whether or not they go to a public school if they care about the subject at all. I suggest you remind yourself that people are still allowed to practice religion as they see fit, even if you don't like it.
Accredited home school. A vast improvement when it came to math, but some of the teachers were downright bad at what they were doing. Like most things, you have to use judgment about the situation at hand. I was here for another half of a year before circumstances demanded that I return to public school for high school.
Community College. I opted for a program where my junior and senior year of high school was spent in community college and took the introductory courses there. It was like high school, except they actually taught you things. And it was a good introduction for the state university, which really was the first place people started treating my like an adult and I finally excelled.
My education is piecemeal just from moving around to the extent that I did. There are things that I really was never taught (certain forms of math... and I never had to dissect anything). I scored 1260 on the SATs when I took them at sixteen, scoring pretty evenly on both sections. I have a friend who had been in home school all her life, was valedictorian of the high school she was enrolled in (Washington State requirement) but had never gone to, and scored in the high 1500's on the SATs before she went into computer science at an acclaimed university. I also know a guy who was 'home schooled' and was barely literate.
I have no intention of subjecting my children to public school, unless I have a very good reason. If the child isn't developing social skills properly, then I'd find a way to make sure that he or she interacts with children his or her own age. Sports, clubs, extracurricular activities. These points that people are making as an argument against home schooling can be prevented by good parenting.
My point is that subjects like this need to be weighed and judged carefully, and to figure out what's right for you. But to have the state decide for you what ought to be done with your kids is outrageous. I'm more willing to trust my discretion than theirs.
Have you ever heard of those parents that overprotect their children from germs? The ones that make sure to spray every countertop and doorknob so that their kids never get sick?
Well, those kids usually wind up with chronic illnesses for the rest of their lives BECAUSE they were never exposed to germs - they never got a chance to build a strong immune system...