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Home-schooling illegal
in California?
State tells parents they can't teach their own kids without credentials
Posted: August 19, 2002
1:00 a.m. EasternPosted: August 19, 2002
By Art Moore
 2002 WorldNetDaily.com

The state of California is warning parents that they cannot educate their children at home without acquiring a professional teaching credential.

Home-schooling illegal in the Golden State?

Activists say that if your information comes only from the state's Department of Education, that is the obvious conclusion.

But legal defenders of home-based education argue that "home-schooling" is not even mentioned in California law and is legal under a statute that allows any parent to operate a "private school," even if the student body amounts to one. California is one of 12 states where home-schooling is accomplished under a private school exemption.

Nevertheless, on July 16, the California education department issued a memo that stated:

"In California, home-schooling a situation where non-credentialed parents teach their own children, exclusively, at home whether using correspondence courses or other types of courses is not an authorized exemption from mandatory public school attendance."

This is pure deception, contends home-school legal advocate Roy Hanson, director of the Lincoln, Calif.-based Private and Home Educators of California.

"One of the things the school district obviously is trying to do is use this to frighten people into joining the public school program," he said.

The memo, printed on the stationery of state Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, informed local educators of a new procedure that private schools must use to excuse their students from public school attendance. Private schools are required to file an affidavit for that purpose between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15 each year. The new method allows them to file via the Internet, directly with the state office.

The July 16 memo's reference to home-schooling continues:

"Furthermore, a parent's filing of the affidavit required of a private school does not transform that parent into a private school. Therefore, those parents who home-school their children are operating outside the law, and there is no reason for them to file an affidavit."

Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association in Virginia, is amazed by the state's position.

"It's really absurd when you think about it," he said, "because California, supposedly this forward state, would be the only state in the union that would require home-schoolers to be certified teachers."

The state's interpretation of the law has been communicated in various ways for about 10 years and is designed "to intimidate people not to home-school," said Karen Taylor, president of the California Homeschool Network

In spite of the July memo, according to Taylor, home-schooling families will continue this year as usual.

"They can say anything they want to, but the law has not changed," she said. "That is the important thing."

"Your child will be considered truant"

But the memo is being taken seriously by local education administrators.

The San Diego County Office of Education sent a letter Aug. 2 to "private school administrators" which includes home-schooling families informing them of "recent and urgent information" regarding the filing of private school affidavits. The fourth paragraph directs their attention to the July 16 memo's warning about home-school instruction.

The San Diego County letter concludes that, "As a result, non-credentialed parents who have home-schooled their children in the past can no longer file affidavits."

Without an affidavit, the letter warns, "your child will be considered truant."

Enclosed with the letter was a list of area programs with "credentialed home-school teachers that can assist you with your home schooling efforts." These are home-school programs conducted with oversight from the local public school district, said Smith, including charter schools and independent study cooperatives.

The San Diego letter concludes with, "Our sincere apology and regrets regarding this matter. Unfortunately this situation is not in our control."

Hanson said, however, that on Thursday he and other home-school defenders received assurances from a new attorney with the Department of Education, Roger Wolfertz, that the state must accept an affidavit from any parent who desires to teach at home. Wolfertz made that clarification at a meeting of the California State School Attendance Review Board, an advisory body to the superintendent of public instruction.

Will home-schooling families in California be informed that despite the July 16 memo and other comminuques, they can file their affidavits as usual and continue homeschooling?

"We don't expect that," said Jim Davis, legislative liaison for Hanson's group.

Have California parents been deliberately misinformed by the state regarding the legality of home-schooling?

"I would go so far as to say this, they probably have been deceived in the past, and they're being even more deceived now," said Hanson.

The California Homeschool Network's Taylor agrees that the state has been putting out false information "to intimidate people not to home-school." She speculates that the motivation is money.

"That's all I can think of," she said. "Home-school children are doing well there doesn't seem to be any argument academically or socially. When our children are not in the school system the districts lose funding."

Hanson explained that funds are allotted according to how many students are enrolled. Each school-age child that does not enroll in the local public school represents lost potential income of $4,000 to $6,000.

The state's increasing pressure on home-schooling families comes at a time when family advocates such as James Dobson are saying "it's time to get our kids out" of California's public school system.

In a speech at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in February, he noted that the California legislature has mandated the teaching of "homosexual propaganda" in the state's public schools.

California home-school legal defender Gary Kreep, president of the U.S. Justice Foundation in Escondido, near San Diego, agrees that funding is a motivation for rejecting home-schooling, but also believes that some officials don't like home-schoolers because they are independent thinkers.

"If you're not in public school you can't be indoctrinated to think that homosexuality is fine," he said. "You can't be indoctrinated with the teacher's union or the educrats who want the children to think (a certain way)."

On its website, the Homeschool Association of California conjectures that the state's "motives range from the greedy to the noble," but believes it should be given the benefit of the doubt: "It is possible that well-meaning employees of the state have looked at the question and concluded that state law does not permit families to do this."

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