Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hem, Hem!

For those of you wondering how this whole California/homeschool judicial ruling thang (debacle is too strong a word, I think) will play out--well, looks like Dolores Jane Umbridge will step in to fix the problem!

I must not tell lies--that was funny!

Via Home Education Magazine News & Commentary (Valerie Moon)


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I thought she was already in charge of NCLB?

I guess CA deserves her more!

Monica said...

I'm afraid I'm woefully uninformed here. What's going on? Is CA trying to crack down on homeschoolers?

Rational Jenn said...

EHL: LOL! I will now be unable to read any new "improvement" to NCLB without imagining one of Umbridge's Educational Decrees! Oh, where are Fred and George when you need them? Wait a minute--maybe ALL homeschoolers have a bit of Fred and George in them! Bucking the system and all.

Monica: I'll try to briefly summarize the issue. A homeschooling family is fighting abuse charges in the CA system (although I'm not a lawyer, it does appear that some of the abuse charges may hold merit.) The lawyer on behalf of the younger children tried to force them to put them in public school, as a measure of protection, I guess. The first court did not allow this, saying something to the effect of parents having a constitutional right to homeschool. The judgment was appealed and last week the appellate judge ruled against the first judge, and literally said in the judgment that parents do NOT have a constitutional right to homeschool.

Some points: A. This family was clearly NOT following CA law regarding the education of their kids. B. Like I said above, there does seem to be evidence of abuse. C. Why this appellate judge decided to make a blanket statement regarding all parents and the right to homeschool, instead of ruling just on what is happening with this family--I don't know.

Check Gideon's blog for a write up, too--he is a homeschooler in CA.

Anyway, people got riled up. It IS concerning, and I share that concern, because as you know--what happens in CA does not always stay in CA, but spreads through the nation. But there is every indication that parents in CA who are following CA's laws are okay for now. The deeper problem, I believe, lies in the fact that homeschooling is not specifically mentioned in the CA statutes. Here in GA, there is a statute for "home study programs." So that omission may leave wiggle room for people, like judges, to imagine that "homeschooling" by parents without teacher's certificates is against the law. It's not against the law, but CA has a different way of handling home study programs. What the parents have to do is enroll their kids in an independent study program affiliated with a school or establish themselves as a private school and the "enroll" their kids in that school. It's kind of screwy, but once it's set up, the state pretty much leaves them alone.

However, now you've got a judge stating that parents do not have this right, and that students MUST be taught by a certified teacher--and there is nothing in their laws that contradicts this--even though everyone knows and has been homeschooling under these other alternative school options. So some people are worried. All indications, though, are that there are lawyers working on behalf of homeschooling families in CA to get this judicial ruling "depublished" or retracted in some way. It will take some time for that to happen though.

This incident has spawned homeschooling debate across the nation, including an interview with "experts" on CNN who, to the dismay of homeschoolers everywhere, acted shocked and surprised that ANY state would allow non-certified parents to teach their little ones ANYTHING! This is the kind of thing that meddlesome Umbridge-types will just eat up.

Um, so much for the summary! Personally, I don't think this is a complete disaster--yet. Let's give the people in CA time to sort this out. Rumors to the effect that homeschooling is illegal in CA are untrue, but the situation needs to be monitored. And in the meantime, let's watch our own states to make sure they don't get any crazy ideas in their heads as an unintended result of all this publicity.


Dana said...

Legislators? With crazy ideas? Never! Thanks for the giggle. I don't know why the lower court couldn't have just declared that this particular family was not suitable...I don't have the language before me, but typically people with a history of abuse are not allowed to teach in any sort of school. And I have no problems with the state not allowing a parent with such a history to homeschool.

Whether or not the allegations are true, I don't know, but they were substantiated and even the father spent time in jail on an earlier allegation with the daughter moving into foster care, never to return home. Even one of these old cases would be enough to bar someone from any other school environment. And I don't have a problem with that being applied to homeschools, as well.

"Rights" or no, there are all kinds of liberties we lose when we break the law.

Rational Jenn said...

Hi Dana! Thanks for stopping by.

I saw your post about all this "panicking" and I'm with you--I don't see lots of panicking out there. Some, sure, but most of us are just waiting and watching this case. It merits watching because anytime a judge anywhere says something is non constitutional, then that could have widespread ramifications.

Of course, this family should have been following the law. Of course, the judge is wrong--I'm sure we'd all love to know why he made such a blanket statement about homeschooling! But I'm willing to wait for this to play out, and to make sure my own legislators don't go too crazy in the meantime. It's the best I can do--and if I see something humorous about it, then I might as well enjoy it, too!

Although, my legislators have bigger fish right now--out of water fish, that is. So I think they'll be distracted here in GA for a while. I hope things chill out for you in NE! I've been keeping an eye on that situation, too. Good luck!