You thought it was a tough situation for your kids in public schools now? Try being a home schooling parent in the state of California right now. A recent decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeals (re Rachel L.) states that “Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.” Those are the words of Justice H. Walter Croskey in his Feb. 28 opinion for the court. The case decision mandates that a parent must now have a valid teaching credential in order to home school their child. According to Croskey, noncompliance could result in a criminal complaint against the parents.
The family in the case at hand in the 2nd District Court of Appeals chose to home school for religious reasons. That is but one of so many reasons a family might choose to home school. Other reasons may include safety or health concerns for your child, the need for a smaller class setting which school cannot or will not accommodate through a child’s IEP or 504 plan, or children involved in some aspect of sports or entertainment which require a self-paced learning progam —to name a few. I cite these examples because it is too easy to read the stories in the news and dismiss the impact because “it will only affect the religious home schoolers.” Not so.
Whether you are a home schooling parent or not, this decision could greatly impact your child. If other states follow suit, the result could be a very large influx of currently home schooled students —with either or both general and special educational needs— into the already strained (near breaking in many cases) public school system. Every student could be affected by a significant decrease in available resources in a system where most teachers are already stretched to the maximum in terms of class sizes and financial and material resources available.
Many teachers already use some of their personal funds to provide supplies for students in need as well as to supplement continuing budget cuts. If you think I am exaggerating, check out nearly any school’s list of supplies expected to be provided by families at the beginning of the school year. In my district, Kindergarten families are expected to provide tissues, folders, glue, hand sanitizer and the like; supplies which should already be staple items in a school.
Those of you who know me, either in person or on-line, know that I am not a terribly politically active creature; I prefer to keep my politics and religion to myself for the most part. But this issue has the potential to deeply affect me and my family; in my state, home schooling is classified as non-public and, as such, is not eligible for any funding, grants, or resources available to public and private schools —especially for special education support or services. Like it or not, the decision in the Rachel L case could affect your children as well. I cannot urge you strongly enough to read the articles, understand the court case and its potential impact on the future of education in this country, and then sign this petition.
You don’t have to be a California resident to make your voice heard on this issue.
Our kids —all of them— are counting on us.