Members of Congress privately are infuriated and worried over a California appeals court ruling that essentially banned homeschooling in the state, where at least 166,000 students are being educated that way, according to a homeschooling expert who has met with them.
“There’s a lot of concern and outrage from members of Congress,” Michael Farris, the chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, told WND today, shortly after he met with several members on this issue.
“There’s a variety of things being considered,” he said. “There could be a brief by members filed in the appellate court in support of parental rights. There could be a resolution from Congress there.”
Plans still were being developed, he said. But the ultimate resolution, Farris suggested, would be an amendment to the U.S. Constitution recognizing the rights and responsibilities of parents to direct their own children’s education.
The website notes the campaign exists “to secure a constitutional amendment that defends the rights of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children. … We believe that no government, regardless of how well-intentioned it might be, can replace the love and nurture of a parent in the life of a child.”
The campaign said, “Without secured parental rights, the vital child-parent relationship is exposed to the imminent danger posed by anti-parent judges within the federal courts, as well as to the risks of international law which seeks to undermine the parental role.”
The California case involved the family of Phillip and Mary Long, and stemmed from a juvenile proceeding. That case already had been closed by the court when court-appointed attorneys for their children appealed specifically trying to have homeschooling banned, and the ruling from the Court of Appeal for the 2nd Appellate District in Los Angeles essentially met their desires.
The opinion, by H. Walt Croskey, holds that homeschooling simply is not a legal option in California. The HSLDA said if the opinion stands, California would have the most regressive law in the nation.
Spokesman Allan Carlson of the The World Congress of Families said that would put California on the same standard as Germany and Brazil, two other governments that ban homeschooling.
The court ruling said: “We find no reason to strike down the Legislature’s evaluation of what constitutes an adequate education scheme sufficient to promote the ‘general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence … We agree … ‘the educational program of the State of California was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education.'”
Those words echoed the ideas of officials from Germany, where homeschooling has been outlawed since 1938 under a law adopted when Adolf Hitler decided he wanted the state, and no one else, to control the minds of the nation’s youth.
Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has said “school teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct, encourages dialogue among people of different beliefs and cultures, and helps students to become responsible citizens.”
The appeals ruling said California law requires “persons between the ages of six and 18” to be in school, “the public full-time day school,” with exemptions being allowed for those in a “private full-time day school” or those “instructed by a tutor who holds a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught.”
Nor did the family’s religious beliefs matter to the court.
Their “sincerely held religious beliefs” are “not the quality of evidence that permits us to say that application of California’s compulsory public school education law to them violates their First Amendment rights,” the court said.
The family told WND it was working on its options for appeal, but they remained indefinite. But there are other developments already.
- Assemblyman Joel Anderson has proposed a resolution in the state Legislature in California that calls for the Croskey ruling to be overturned.
- Gov. Schwarzenegger said, “if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights, then, as elected officials, we will.”
- California Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said, “Parents still have the right to homeschool in this state.”
- The HSLDA said it would coordinate a petition seeking to have the legal opinion “de-published,” which is a process that would prevent it from being used as a widespread precedent for other homeschooling families.
- Another petition appeals to Schwarzenegger and the state legislature and is being run by the Pacific Justice Institute, which is working with the website PetitionsToday.org.
- Yet another petition also is under way, at the ReverseTheRuling.com website. That organization offers information for homeschoolers who want to follow the California case, because of that state’s influence throughout the nation. It was assembled by the organization Learning By Grace, an outreach dedicated to providing parents with innovative online Christian homeschool materials.
“We have seen God’s hand of protection on the homeschooling movement for the 25 years we have been working together for this cause. There is no reason to begin to doubt God now,” Farris said.
Pacific Justice also is representing Sunland Christian School, which has been working with the family’s children in a study program, on an appeal to the state Supreme Court.
“Don’t panic,” the school said in a statement. “Help those who feel distraught and afraid, to be at peace and have faith for a favorable outcome. While we are appealing this ruling, it won’t be used in court against homeschoolers. Continue to homeschool effectively, caring about your family, children, their growth and development and their academic instruction,” the school said.
Pacific Justice chief Brad Dacus promised, “I will leave no stone unturned in an effort to reverse this heinous attack on parental rights, and that includes asking for your swift and immediate help.”
The Longs previously told WND of their concerns with the public school district’s advocacy for alternative sexual lifestyles and promotion of the theory of evolution.
“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.
Croskey’s ruling 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.”