Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Stunned By the CA Homeschooling Decision

For those of you who haven't heard yet (or aren't obsessed with homeschooling news), on February 28th, a court made a very sweeping decision about a case involving homeschooling. The family wasn't a member of HSLDA, so pretty much no one had heard of this case until it was decided.

I wasn't concerned at first.... until I read the details of the decision, which pretty much interpreted the laws to basically make homeschooling illegal in CA.

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. If I'm not compltely satisfied with any new decision made on this, I'm moving from this insane place, for certain.


Timothy Power said...

Hello, Silvermine. After reading the comment you left over on my blog (the post about Gary Gygax), I thought I'd pop over here and say hi.

I first came across news of this case through the post at the recent Carnival of Homeschooling, and it looks like a bad ruling--in many different senses of the term, including just being wrong on the law.

Then again, I don't know a whole lot about the particulars of the case yet either.

At any rate it looks like HSLDA will be jumping in to this thing with both feet, so hopefully the good guys will have some competent counsel this time around. As I understand it, the case has been sent back to the lower court for a reopening of the "finding of fact" stage.

(And for the record, I don't always agree with some of the political things that HSLDA does; but for the most part, they are on the side of the good guys.)

This case is far from over, and while it has the potential to undermine homeschooling in California, a lot of other bad things have to happen first. The fact is, the status quo is on our side. The Supreme Court of the US has some long-standing rulings--such as the 1925 Pierce v. Society of Sisters--that while states can mandate compulsory schooling, they cannot mandate that the kids attend the public schools. While these rulings do not directly mention homeschooling, they created a legal climate in which homeschooling is implicitly supported, and states that attempted to ban the practice would likely find themselves struck down at the federal level. According to Wikipedia, Texas once tried to outlaw homeschooling, but lost the case in the federal courts.

Furthermore, the recent Morse v. Frederick "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" majority decision mentions homeschooling specifically: "If parents do not like the rules imposed by those schools... they can send their children to private schools or home school them..."

So while this is an ugly ruling, there's a really good chance it will be overturned or otherwise neutralized long before it impacts our rights. So you don't have to leave California yet.

Although if things go really badly, I may actually run into you some day at a rest stop along highway forty going east...

silvermine said...

Indeed, I think with all the different legal groups working on it, it will be resovled in a happy way. I think it just shows that out in CA, homeschooling is a bit too much about operating in a loophole to make anyone very comfortable.