You will be assimilated in California

Ok, so you are the parent of kids in California public schools. Last year your supposedly Republican governor signed SB 777, which added new, superfluous “anti-discrimination” language to already strict laws prohibiting sex discrimination in schools. So, you’re wondering what this means, and you’re a bit worried because California judges can make some pretty wacky decisions sometimes. So, you’re thinking, worst-case, if the schools get really bad you can take your kids out and home-school them.

Wrong.

Some of those same wacky California judges just decided you can’t home-school your kids unless you’re a teacher. Even the LA Times calls the decision “regressive.” In a news story! The Borg have taken over California policy-making. You will be assimilated!

I have posted on this in the past and urged calm. And there is still reason for hope: the California Supreme Court and/or the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn this decision. It’s not time to move out of the state yet.

But if I had children in a California public school I would be very, very worried. As I said in my past post, there is a whole group of “anti-discrimination” activists who want to teach your kids intimate details about homosexual and heterosexual sex acts as early as the sixth grade. They tried to introduce this at my sister’s school in a very liberal part of California, and the administration was forced to back-track after the parents raised a stink.

Here’s the rub: all thinking people are against unfair discrimination. Nobody wants a kid to be beat up because the schoolyard bullies think he is a “fag.” And there are clear, undeniable laws already preventing that in California, and there have been since I was a student there in the 1970s. The new language is unnecessary: it forces courts to bend over backwards to find any possible excuse to treat homosexuality and heterosexuality equally.

So, in theory I could imagine a situation where “hetero-normative” books are prohibited. All books that show a mommy and daddy and kids now must show a mommy and mommy and a daddy and daddy and kids. Can’t you see it is discriminatory to exclude all possible family groups?

The above situation may sound extreme, but the point is that it is the courts and the administrations of the different schools that will determine what “non-discrimination” is. The field is wide open for extreme and crazy decisions. You have to monitor your schools and your kids’ curriculum like a hawk.

This is one of the reasons the home-schooling movement in California has been booming. Parents have decided they simply don’t want to take chances with their kids’ education and are teaching them at home. But this is not acceptable for the politically correct conformist police in California: kids must be taught political correct tripe regardless of what the parents want! We cannot allow independent thought!

Luckily there are very skillful family advocate lawyers who are fighting the politically correct police. The decision is certain to be appealed. In addition, it appears that it will be difficult to enforce the decision and stop home-schooling immediately.

What an unfortunate, outrageous decision. One of the families quoted in the LA Times story said they will leave the state if they cannot home-school. I don’t blame them.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

17 thoughts on “You will be assimilated in California

  1. It is worth pointing out that one of the reasons the court over-turned home-schooling is because of concerns that one family may have been abusing its kids. If abuse is taking place, you have to investigate the abuse and deal with the abuse as a separate issue. But the courts took this opportunity to over-reach and throw out all home-schooling.

  2. Mark B’s comment above (not showing because of our server problems — sorry!) points out that the LA Times did not necessarily call the decision “regressive” as I state above. In fact, the story has homeschooling supporters calling the decision “regressive.” Point taken.

  3. The article says, "Under the state education code, students must be enrolled in a public or private school, or can be taught at home by a credentialed tutor."

    I haven’t looked at the statute. But I’ll assume that the article is right and ask: Why are you complaining about the judge’s ruling, or hoping for a change on appeal? Did you expect or hope that the case would be decided by judges who feels free to ignore the statute? (That would mean the judges were those dreaded "activists," right?)

    Of course if the law doesn’t say what the article claims, my assumption goes out the window, and I’ll join you in hoping the California Supreme Court reads and applies the law as written.

  4. And my friends in LA ask why I don’t want to move back to California.

    The big argument here is, at the end of the day, about whether homeschoolers can qualify under the three main statutory options (enroll as a home-study public school student, enroll as an independent study private school student, or establish your own private school) that do not require teacher credentials (the private tutor option does require credentialing.) The Court says no, and actually goes to great length (on topics that have nothing to do with this particular family’s situation.)

    As is often the case, this family isn’t a really great test case: the decision has a footnote about the separate dependency proceedings which are ongoing, and it hints that the quality of instruction is actually bad. It goes on, however, to say that the Court thinks the quality of the education provided is irrelevant. Which brings me back to why I don’t want to move back to California…

  5. JrL, I would encourage you to read the following:

    http://www.hslda.org/laws/analysis/California.pdf

    To summarize, past courts have allowed a wide variety of home-schooling alternatives. The article’s interpretation is not correct. The court went back to a 1953 law rather than following precedents that are more recent that have allowed homeschooling.

    In addition, it is worth pointing out once again that the court could have decided to deal with just this one case of one homeschooling family and dealt with some possible abuse cases there. Instead, the court made a sweeping judgment that calls all home schools “unconstitutional.” Unnecessary judicial reach.

  6. I’d rather have my children hometaught by a spouse with college and/or advanced degrees from a real university than taught by a teacher from a "teacher’s college". Most of the teacher’s college curriculum deals with pedagogy, which is entirely devoid of academic content, and has very minimal application to a tutoring situation, such as home-schooling. Most spouses with college degrees have sufficient academic content to impart to children, at least through middle school. There are many good curricula available on line and by mail which can guide a parent teacher through the high school years.

  7. According to Ace of Spades and NRO, the LA Times article is wrong, and this decision will only affect a narrow class of homeschoolers.

  8. Mark D, I saw those reports, and it was not just the LA Times that reported this. It was all of the papers in the state. The court’s decision said there is no constitutional right to homeschooling in California and painted broad strokes. It very easily could have confined itself to the specific case of the one family in question, but did not. All of the homeschooling organizations in the state disagree with your comment that only a narrow class of homeschoolers will be affected.

    I would agree with you, however, that it will be difficult to enforce such a ruling, but let’s say you are a policeman in Anaheim and you happen across a family teaching children at home in pursuit of another crime. Your police force has been told that homeschooling is unconstitutional. Is there any doubt that the police will now have greater reason and obligation to pursue legal action against that family?

    Let’s hope the state supreme court overturns this crazy decision or confines it to just this one family, where abuse may have been taking place. In the meantime, let’s hope the state supreme court reaffirms that just like every other state in the country homeschooling is legal and a good alternative for some families.

  9. I quote from the March 6, 2008 Ace of Spades post by Gabriel Malor (linking doesn’t appear to work):

    “Under California law, attendance at a full-time day public school is compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 18. Parents wanting to take their kids out of the public schools must do so under one of the exceptions provided by the California Education Code. For the purposes of home schooling they are: § 48222 Attendance in private school or § 48224 Instruction by credentialed tutor. (There are other exceptions for short-term child actors, the mentally gifted, or leaves of absence, but they are not appropriate for homeschoolers.)

    So, generally, parents have three options for educating their kids in California: (1) public school; (2) private school; or (3) credentialed tutor. This is not as bad for homeschoolers as it looks. To be a private school in California, all the parent has to do is be “capable of teaching” the required subjects in the English language and offer instruction in the same “branches of study” required to be taught in the public schools. They also have to keep a register of enrollment at their “school” and a record of attendance. Once a year they have to file an affidavit with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction with things like their names and address, the names of the students and their addresses, a criminal background check (since we don’t want unsupervised felons teaching kids), and their attendance register. That’s it.

    In the Longs’ case, they attempted to claim that their children were enrolled in a “valid charter school” and that the school was supervising the mothers’ instruction in the home. It is unclear from the court’s opinion, but it looks like the parents tried to argue that the children were enrolled in a public school (since all charter schools in California are public schools). But since they obviously couldn’t meet any of the attendance requirements for public schools*, the court also examined the question of whether the parents were credentialed. Since they obviously aren’t, the court kicked it back to the lower court to order them to “enroll their children in a public full-time day school, or a legally qualified private full-time day school.” It looks like the parents never bothered to argue that they were running their own private school in compliance with § 48222.

    *Some homeschoolers attempt to twist the “independent study” provision for public school education in § 51745 into a form of generalized homeschooling and that may be what the lawyers were trying to do in this case. Unfortunately, that statute is quite explicit that independent study not take the form of an “alternative curriculum” to that provided by the public school and that it not replace any courses required for a high school diploma.

    In sum: homeschoolers, TAKE A BREATH. You are not about to be criminally charged for choosing to educate your children at home, as the LA Times and the various commentators I mentioned above imply. You can still homeschool your kids, assuming that you can pass a criminal background check and aren’t totally incompetent. The lawyers for these parents and homeschool advocates all over the state are gleefully watching all the outrage this has stirred up, but I think they should be ashamed of themselves for terrifying the parents of homeschooled children.”

  10. Generally, the interpretation of a State statute by its courts is the determining factor. It is unlikely that US Supreme Court would grant a hearing as this does not appear to present a federal matter. Moreover, the current majority asserts that no novel or time- sensitive issues should be addressed by the Court. Under the Constitution, as currently interpreted, there is no right to an education, or a drivers license or a marriage license. However, once the state provides such services they must be administered in a neutral way so as not to infringe the rights of any protected class. So Scalia, for example, does not believe that Catholics are protected in their use of wine if a State should choose to limit the use of wine within its borders.

  11. I would rather have my 5th-grader taught by someone who understands how to *teach* math, instead of someone who got a college degree but doesn’t understand the basics of pedagogy.

    (So says the ABD)

  12. I just don’t see the big deal. If you are ready to dedicate 12+ years to homeschooling your kids, get thee to school and get your certification. I have teaching certification in 3 states and a masters in education, which is a part of certification where I live. All teachers here have Masters degress, at least. No biggie.

    Can you really tell me that your intimate knowledge of your child’s intellectual history prepares you to teach all # of your kids calculus? Regardless of their issues (let’s face it, many people homeschool because of their child’s issues–some gifted, some special needs), your kids need to be taught by someone who is at least dedicated enough to understanding how different people learn that they spent a few semesters studying education formally.

    Or what, you think certification programs are all worthless, a waste of time, and the teachers they produce total frauds? Go to school and get over it. I would never allow my child’s teacher to be uncertified, which is why I would not private or charter school and why I wonder why homeschoolers feel so comfortable. It’s like saying i can be my kid’s doctor and dentist, after all, I know them so well….

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