Saturday, March 8, 2008

Homeschooling Illegal in California

In case you haven't heard, a court in California ruled homeschooling ILLEGAL in California. Here is the Fox News version:,2933,335808,00.html
And a different source:
Here is HSLDA's (Home School Legal Defense Association) response:
And another on one news now about HSLDA:
If you would like to sign a petition on HSLDA you can go to

Interestingly, I searched on CNN, for an "unbiased" report. They don't even have it on their website, at least not using the search criteria I entered. From my understanding of things, this is saying that all homeschool parents must be certified teachers in California. Also, it sounds like they require that students take standardized tests and report progress to the state.

I have a bit of an opinion on this matter. Before I share the homeschool mom side, let me share the classroom teacher side. Teachers work hard to get their degrees. I don't know how many other degrees require that you spend a semester as an unpaid intern (student teacher). I don't know how many other fields require you to pass a state mandated test to earn your certification, in addition to your college degree. I do know that teachers are taught all they can be taught in a college classroom, yet are never truly prepared for the job they must do. No college class can adequately prepare you for a principal breathing down your neck over test scores, or a parent complaining to the principal because little Johnny didn't make the honor roll. No class makes you ready to try to help little Shawnequa, who is the oldest of 7 children, at age 8, with "Daddy" being whoever is sleeping with Mama that night, who is so emotionally disturbed that she can't even sit in her chair, or look at you, and needs 2 desks because she hoards so much "stuff." No professor tells you that you will sit in ARD's prepared to get help for little Shawnequa, and the only words from the principal's mouth are "Can she pass the TAAS test?" or TAKS, or whatever the test d'jour is. No one can prepare a teacher for the endless hours she or he will spend grading papers, writing lesson plans, calling parents, and worrying over 20+ kids that are in her or his care. Teachers work a thankless job most the time. I know this. I've been there.

I meet part of California's standards. Well, not really, but if they had the same standards here. I'm a certified teacher. Phil has a BS in Science, and could easily obtain an "emergency" teaching certification. Yes, they really do give those out when there is a teacher shortage, which there always seems to be. If I had to stand before this same court, these are some of the things I would like to tell them: NOTHING I learned in college is necessary to teach MY children. I would tell them that I have seen some teachers with a license to teach whom I would NOT want teaching my kids. I would ask if they've ever picked up a teacher's manual to see that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to teach a child. I would ask if they've ever watched a DVD or satellite broadcast of a homeschool lesson. I would ask if they have kids in public school, how much one on one attention their child gets per day, per lesson. I would want to know how filling in little circles on a standardized test qualifies a child for the real world. Oh, the list would go on & on.

Oh, yeah, I would also say I think ALL parents should be accountable for what they teach their kids: things like getting drunk is okay, using foul language is okay, watching shows with inappropriate material is okay, that sleeping with whomever "daddy" is that night is okay. Yep, that's what some parents do who send their kids to school for 8 hours. And trust me, those kids aren't normally your honor roll students, or high scorers on the standardized tests.

I have many friends whose kids are in school, public or private, and they have made the choice that best fits their families. These are wonderful parents who are giving their kids what they've decided is best for THEM. By the way, when I taught at a private school, having a teaching certificate was not a requirement. I don't know if it is or not now, but there were some amazing teachers there. My point is that there are parents who love their kids and are involved in their children's lives and education, in a school setting.

On the flip side, there are some parents who see school not as a privilege that our country offers, but as a right. They expect the school to take care of their kids from breakfast til almost supper.

Now I'm going to the homeschool parent role. If you take homeschoolers AS A WHOLE, you will find that a MAJORITY of homeschool parents are educating their children as a CHOICE. They want to provide the very best education possible for THEIR children. Isn't it ironic that the government would look at people who have PURPOSELY CHOSEN to educate their children and question their ability? Yes, there are some, who, for whatever reason, are not educating their children with their best interest in mind. Yet, there are certainly a good number of parents whose kids go to school, whose skills at safeguarding and teaching their children life skills, and how to be a productive citizen, should be more of a concern than parents who actually want to educate their children!

I contend that MOST homeschool parents are doing an acceptable, if not exceptional, job of teaching their children. We need only look at studies of graduated homeschoolers (now that we have reached that stage) to see how they compare to their peers to find that most of these young adults fared quite well. I've often said in regard to homeschooled children, "The proof is in the pudding." You can't judge a child's outcome until he or she has, well, "come out."

As a classroom teacher, I truly hated standardized testing when used as it is in public schools. Testing such as this should be used for 2 purposes: 1) to obtain a comparison of how the child has progressed from the previous testing to this one, and 2) as a diagnostic tool to determine in what areas the child needs help. Now, this may sound very flippant and disrepsectful, so I ask for forgiveness up front, but when I see a sign on a school that says something about the school being exemplary BASED ON TEST SCORES, I just want to scream, "WHO CARES???" I want to ask, "Are you teaching the kids how to use these skills in real life? Are they learning to respect other students? Can they work together on a project? Can they solve problems individually, and as a group? Or can they just fill in circles on a test to make the principal look good?"

I've heard people say that it is frightening that people without the proper training are trying to teach their kids. Scary, teaching them to work together, to love others, to honor God and their parents. Yep, scary, isn't it.

Finally, words from the Edumator, The Governator, the Terminator, Ahnold:

"Every California child deserves a quality education, and parents should have the right to decide what's best for their children," Schwarzenegger said in response to the ruling, which said children educated at home must be taught by a credentialed teacher.

"Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children's education," Schwarzenegger said. "This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts, and if the courts don't protect parents' rights then, as elected officials, we will."

Read entire article HERE.

Stepping off my soapbox. Quietly backing away. Good night.

No comments: