Homeschooling Victory in California
Special Report - August 11, 2008
On Friday, August 8, the Second District Court of Appeals for the State of California reversed course on a decision it issued in February, in which the court had concluded that many homeschools in that state were operating illegally. An estimated 166,000 California children are homeschooled. The February ruling would have forced many of those children to attend a public or private school, or would have required their parents obtain state-sponsored teaching credentials or hire a credentialed tutor for teaching inside their home. After rehearing the case, the Court concluded that “California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education,” without requiring teaching credentials of homeschooling parents.
The question for the Court revolved around what they referred to as legislative inaction to clearly allow or outlaw homeschooling in the state. California’s compulsory education law from 1903 expressly permitted homeschooling in California until 1929 when the law was amended to remove the homeschooling language. Although case law from 1953 and 1961 interpreted the new language to require homeschools to have credentialed teachers, the Court looked at recent statutes that indicated apparent legislative acceptance of homeschools as private schools and approval of these schools “by exempting home schools from requirements otherwise applicable to private schools.” The court also acknowledged the constitutional right of parents to direct their children’s education, concluding that any limit on that right, including restrictions on homeschooling, would be presumed unconstitutional. “Parents are the primary educators of their children,” said Matt Lytle, director of research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “This reverse ruling is an important step in the defense of parental rights to determine and provide the best education for their children.”
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