Judge H. Walt Croskey
Just days after California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger blasted a court ruling that threatened homeschooling in his state, a member of the California State Assembly has introduced a resolution recommending the decision be overturned.
And advocates for homeschooling confirm they are telling their constituents to continue with their plans and make preparations to leave the “immoral” government public school system, despite the conclusion from Judge H. Walt Croskey.
“This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts, and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights, then, as elected officials, we will,” Schwarzenegger said in a recent statement, after a ruling from a state appellate court essentially concluded California law allows no option for parents to school their children themselves.
“Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education,” the governor said.
The latest move comes from California Assemblyman Joel Anderson, according to an announcement from Capitol Resource Institute.
“Shockwaves continue to reverberate throughout the country after last week’s unbelievable Court of Appeals for the 2nd Appellate District ruling that attacked parents’ rights to homeschool in California,” the organization said in a statement.
“Assemblyman Joel Anderson has taken the first step in protecting parents’ rights to homeschool by introducing a concurrent resolution in the Assembly, calling on the California Supreme Court to reverse the lower court’s decision,” the group said.
The proposal notes that homeschoolers in California are now in “responsible positions as parents, as students in and graduates of colleges and universities, in the workplace, and as citizens in society at large. …”
It also notes “the United States Supreme Court has ruled that parents have a fundamental constitutional right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. …”
“On Feb. 28, 2008, the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Appellate District in Los Angeles issued an opinion in the case of In Re: Rachel L. holding that homeschooling without a teaching credential is not legal… [and that] denies California parents’ primary responsibility and right to determine the best place and manner of their own children’s education,” the resolution says.
It calls on the state Supreme Court to reverse the decision.
Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, said the ruling was disturbing.
“The ruling is so alarming because the state appeals court judges actually wrote that ‘parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children.’ The judges said that parents without teaching credentials cannot teach. This ruling is a radical slam against homeschooling,” his organization said.
However, Thomasson said parents should not do anything extreme.
“Despite this intolerant, anti-parent ruling, California homeschoolers must not panic.… California homeschooling families should continue homeschooling, and parents who are considering homeschooling as a way to exit the immoral government school system should continue with their plans,” he said.
Thomasson’s group said such families should considering being part of an organization that coordinates resources and provides a defense for families who face unfair attacks, recommending the Home School Legal Defense Association.
Thomasson said that’s reasonable, since “some bureaucrats may now use this court ruling to selectively persecute homeschool parents.”
The homeschool organization is working on a petition to made the ruling “non-binding.” “Such an order would mean this awful ruling is limited to only the facts in the case, is not binding precedent,” according to CCF.
One homeschooling analyst noted, however, there was one further danger written into the ruling, a reference to “the child’s rights under California’s compulsory public education law.”
That reference appears to be linked to the U.N. principle of educational “rights” for children, meaning their parents are liable if they are now allowed to exercise those “rights.”
“That, in itself, is a threat,” the analyst told WND. If such “rights” are established in law, then parents could be targeted with legal action on behalf of the children for violating those “rights.”
Croskey, whose opinion was joined by two other judges, ordered: “Parents who fail to [comply with school enrollment laws] may be subject to a criminal complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction and subject to imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and counseling program.”
WND previously reported Brad Dacus, chief of the Pacific Justice Institute, has confirmed plans for an appeal to the state Supreme Court on behalf of the school in which the Long children were enrolled.
“We are hoping enough common sense prevails for everyone to wait and see how this plays out before the state Supreme Court,” he said.
But in California, such appellate level rulings are binding on lower courts when they are issued, said Dacus.
The family in the case, Phillip and Mary Long, previously told WND they were reviewing their options for an appeal themselves but had not confirmed specifics yet.
There are an estimated 166,000 children in formalized homeschool situations in California, but Dacus estimated there are others “under the radar” that would be several times that number.
The Longs previously told WND of their concerns with the public school district’s advocacy for alternative sexual lifestyles.
“The parent-child relationship existed long before any government and makes it the responsibility of the parent to educate the child,” Phillip Long told California reporters.
He said the responsibility includes protecting children from things that are hazardous “emotionally” as well as physically.
The Los Angeles court decision granted a special petition brought by lawyers appointed to represent the two youngest children after the family’s homeschooling was brought to the attention of child advocates. The lawyers appointed by the state were unhappy with a lower court’s ruling that allowed the family to continue homeschooling and challenged it on appeal.
Dacus previously warned there are potential dangers from social services situations now too. He said the California legislature has adopted “education neglect” rules that could be used “as grounds for the removal of a child from a family.”
“We are advising our homeschoolers to continue, but to keep both eyes open,” he told WND.
Candi Cushman, an education analyst for Focus on the Family, said the timing was horrible, because of new statutes facing school children in California, an issue which WND previously has reported.
“This takes away recourse from thousands of parents in California who want to escape the government-enforced indoctrination in public schools,” she said. “The Legislature recently passed a law that basically ensures that students get a one-sided, positive portrayal of homosexuality and same-sex ‘marriage.'”
WND broke the story of the ruling, which reversed a decision from Superior Court Judge Stephen Marpet, who said “parents have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home.”
As WND has reported, the Longs had their children enrolled in Sunland Christian School, a private homeschooling program.
But Croskey, without hearing arguments from the school, opined that the situation
was a “ruse of enrolling [children] in a private school and then letting them stay home and be taught by a non-credentialed parent.”