A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.
The homeschooling movement never saw the case coming.
“At first, there was a sense of, ‘No way,’ ” said homeschool parent Loren Mavromati, a resident of Redondo Beach (Los Angeles County) who is active with a homeschool association. “Then there was a little bit of fear. I think it has moved now into indignation.”
The ruling arose from a child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long of Lynwood, who have been homeschooling their eight children. Mary Long is their teacher, but holds no teaching credential.
The parents said they also enrolled their children in Sunland Christian School, a private religious academy in Sylmar (Los Angeles County), which considers the Long children part of its independent study program and visits the home about four times a year.
I’m not a big fan of homeschooling. I see it largely as movement of right-wing Christians who want to prevent their children from learning about things like evolution and tolerance. I also worry that many kids who are home-schooled may grow up lacking social skills in dealing with people who are different from them and that deficit will make it difficult for them to deal in a real world that is full of rich cultures, beliefs, and attitudes.
That being said, this ruling from the Cali appeals court is disturbing. People and parents have the right to live their lives as they see fit, even if that means educating children in ways that are not state-approved. I think most parents who care for and love their children are fit to provide those kids with educations that they deem to be appropriate, even if the state doesn’t like that the parents might be indoctrinating in a certain way.
People who enjoy freedom of thought and the freedom to live their lives in their own way ought to be enraged by this decision.