- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2008

A recent decision of the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles — that a family has no right to home-school unless the parent is a state-certified teacher — would transform 90 percent of California home-schooling families into criminals.

Although State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell has publicly declared, “Parents still have the right to home-school in this state,” the decision will be an extremely dangerous one if it stands.

Lest anyone doubt the risk posed by one court decision, please remember that in Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court decided “separate but equal” facilities did not contradict the 13th and 14th amendments — and for the next 60 years, blacks were robbed of basic human rights and freedoms, all based on one decision.

The Los Angeles court decision overturned a lower-court ruling that protected the rights of a family of eight children, who all have been home-schooled, to continue home-schooling two of their minor children.

What is shocking is that the appeals court decision went far beyond the issue of what is best for those children and issued a sweeping reinterpretation of California law, stating that “parents do not have a constitutional right to home-school their children.”

The appeals court departed from the fundamental tenet of U.S. nationhood that the government derives its power from the people, and instead argued that the state of California has a constitutional mandate to “bring about a general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence” that is encapsulated in the education system, that has as its primary purpose “to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.”

In a strangely convoluted chain of logic, the court papers claim that the state, not the parent, is the guardian of the child’s education. It claims there is no constitutional right for parents who for conscientious or religious reasons wish to educate their children themselves, and it goes so far as to recommend, “Parents who fail [to send children to state-run or -approved schools] may be subject to a criminal complaint … found guilty of an infraction and subject to imposition of fines.”

The decision attempts to invalidate the family’s enrollment in a private Christian instructional program because it is not a public school and is not nonsectarian, and it states that additionally, the parents must have a state-issued teaching credential to do any home instruction.

This decision is so sweeping, so over-the-top anti-family in its nature and so decidedly against religious freedom that it begs credulity. It is stunning to have this happen in the nation where religious liberty and freedom of speech and assembly are protected by the Bill of Rights.

This decision echoes the laws instituted by Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union, setting the state above the natural guardianship of parents and political expedience over conscientious choice.

It is common knowledge that home-schoolers outperform public school students in standardized tests, in national academic competitions and in their college and professional outcomes — irrespective of the parents’ levels of education.

If this ruling is upheld, it will spell loss of freedom for thousands of families. It is unthinkable that decent families will be made criminals for wanting a better education for their children than what the public schools offer.

I strongly urge you to read the full court decision at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B192878.PDF. You can sign a petition requesting that this poor decision be “depublished” at: https://www2.hslda.org/Registrations/DepublishingCaliforniaCourtDecision.

Kate Tsubata, a home-schooling mother of three, is a freelance writer who lives in Maryland.

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