Monday, May 26, 2008

Update on Homeschooling in California

From the Home School Legal Defense Association and received on May 23:

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

On May 19 all the filings of the legal briefs to re-hear the case In re Rachel L. were completed.

The Court of Appeal, which made the fateful decision on February 28, 2008 to declare all homeschooling illegal unless the parent is a certified teacher, will now begin the process of considering the arguments. The current schedule anticipates oral arguments to begin this June.

HSLDA has been at the forefront of the process to defend the right to homeschool in California and across the country. In this case, we were able to successfully help Gary Kreep of the U.S. Justice Foundation, who represents the father at the center of this case, Mr. L., to prepare the arguments to grant the petition for re-hearing. When the Court of Appeal granted the petition for rehearing, the original opinion was vacated and no longer has any legal effect.

Furthermore, in the latest round of filings, we have also been able to provide substantial assistance to the Alliance Defense Fund, which is partnering with the U.S. Justice Foundation in order to make the strongest argument possible to preserve homeschool freedom in California. So much is at stake, and all parties involved have shared their unique perspective to present the best case possible.

HSLDA has also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in conjunction with Focus on the Family and Family Protection Ministries to show the benefits of a home education. These arguments draw on the extensive development of homeschooling and the successful track record of parents educating their children at home.

Also, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has filed a brief in conjunction with the Attorney General of California, which supports a parent’s right to homeschool. Their brief begins with this statement: “Recognizing that home-schooling has a long and positive history in California and across the nation, the State of California provides a broad statutory framework that authorizes and regulates the practice.” In other words, the Governor and Attorney General are strongly arguing for no changes to the current law. To read the brief click here.

While we do not know what the court will decide, you can be confident that hundreds of hours were spent by many different organizations to defend your right to homeschool.

We hope and pray for a successful outcome in this case.


J. Michael Smith
HSLDA President

I ask that you continue to pray that the parental right to educate children at home without requiring teaching credentials for home educators will be upheld. The vast majority of home schooling families do extraordinary work with their children, and a few "bad apples" should not be able to disrupt the freedoms of all of the California home schoolers who work so hard and teach their children so successfully.

In fact, last week we received the results of our children's annual standardized testing. E, 10th grade, averaged in the 83rd percentile in all subjects and received a "Post High School" grade equivalency in every single testing area (11 total). In 7th grade this year, T averaged in the 69th percentile while still receiving "Post High School" grade equivalency in Science, Language Mechanics (grammar) and Listening (I wish he listened that well at home!). J (5th grade) averaged in the 73rd percentile, with Mathematic Problem-Solving in the 93rd percentile.

The only scores that were below average were the boys' spelling scores -- they did not inherit my good-spelling gene as E did. I'll be looking for a different approach in teaching them spelling for next academic year. Other than that one subject, every other score for all three students was over the 50th percentile, and therefore are considered "above average." I use these test scores each spring to gauge which subjects to put more time and money into for the following school year, so they are an excellent tool to use for planning. Besides, annual testing in grades 4-11 is a requirement of Heritage Christian School, our Independent Study Program (ISP) here in San Diego, along with quarterly report cards/progress reports and a Course of Study for each student to be filed at the beginning of each school year. The requirements are minimal but provide enough accountability to make sure that the students are learning well.

Homeschooling can provide an excellent education, and I pray that it will remain legal and unfettered as it is in California at present.

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