by Susan Ryan
Yes, it's true, and it was for the good.
Early this year, California's 2nd District Appellate Court made an ill-advised decision concerning California homeschooling and then proceeded to reverse their ruling as of last Friday.
In February, the court issued a ruling concerning a California homeschooling family that also included this little ditty:
California courts have held that under provisions in the Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.
With those words, a huge outcry from the California homeschool community network, support from California Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown, national grassroots efforts, plus pro bono assistance from prestigious California law firms called for correction of these judicial words. The judges bowed to pressure, backed up and granted an unusual re-hearing of the case in June.
This was despite the California Teachers Association's glee with the original ruling, as pointed out in the March 7th San Francisco Chronicle article: Homeschoolers' setback sends shock waves through state:
The ruling was applauded by a director for the state's largest teachers union.
"We're happy," said Lloyd Porter, who is on the California Teachers Association board of directors. "We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting."
The CTA put in their 2 cents in the June re-hearing with their "educational anarchy" concern regarding homeschoolers. They were in the minority and lost out to common sense.
Here are the organizations that submitted amicus briefs for the court's review:
(1) Sunland Christian School; (2) the Sutherland Institute; (3) Pacific Legal Foundation, Kent Hayes and Anne Hayes; (4) California Homeschool Network, Homeschool Association of California, and Christian Home Educators Association of California; (5) Los Angeles Unified School District; (6) American Center for Law & Justice, American Civil Rights Union, Christian Leaders, Jewish Homeschoolers of Napa & Sonoma, and Western Center for Law & Policy; (7) the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the California Department of Education; (8) the California Teachers Association; (9) Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, Grace Christian Academy, Arbor Academy, Beach High School, Excellence in Education, AtoZ Home’s Cool, HomeFires – Journal of Homeschooling Online, and Northern California African American Homeschooler’s [sic] Association; (10) the Governor and Attorney General of the State of California; (11) Public Advocates, Inc.; (12) the Home School Legal Defense Association, Focus on the Family, and Private and Home Educators of California; (13) Members of the United States Congress; (14) the Seventh-Day Adventist Church State Council; (15) the National Legal Foundation; and (16) the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.
The corrected decision from the appellate court is linked here: Jonathan L. v. Super. Ct. 8/8/08 CA2/3
The continuing concern to me is the frustration of these judges in what they view as "legislative inaction". The Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein exposed her seeming disregard for natural rights in the LA Times:
In defense of home schooling
Supporters argue that parents shouldn't need teaching credentials. Lawyers suggest a more narrow ruling. By Gale Holland June 24, 2008
Several of the justices suggested that the Legislature had foisted the decision on the courts by failing to intervene.
After the hearing, several observers said it was hard to tell which way the court was leaning. The justices repeatedly pressed lawyers on both sides to specify exactly what they should do.
"All of you recognize the issues before us are monumental," said Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein in wrapping up the proceedings. "We’re as frustrated as you are."
The August 8 opinion stated this below in the introduction, which seems to pound out a judicial branch invitation for the California legislatures to take action:
Our first task, interpreting the law of California, is made more difficult in this case by legislative inaction.
Just as in Illinois, it seems to make more sense that we don't need a law to oversee and intervene with home educators. Aren't they doing just fine without public school guidelines, regulations and oversight? "Educational anarchy" and "legislative inaction" seems to be working well in homeschooling families' education.