Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Update on California Homeschooling Case

From the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), dated today (6/25/08):

On Monday, June 23, 2008, HSLDA founder Mike Farris argued in defense of homeschooling in the California Court of Appeal in the now-infamous Rachel L. case. In February, this same court had ruled that homeschooling is illegal in California. The court later vacated its own decision in response to a request for rehearing filed by attorney for the father, Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation, with substantial assistance by Farris and other attorneys at HSLDA. Farris argued as a friend of the court on behalf of HSLDA's 15,000 member families in California, as well as Focus on the Family, and Private and Home Educators of California.

Farris was joined in his defense of homeschooling by lawyers representing the Attorney General and Governor of California, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, California’s three largest homeschooling groups (California Homeschool Network, Homeschool Association of California and Christian Home Educators of California), Pacific Justice Institute on behalf of Sunland Christian School, and Alliance Defense Fund lawyer Jeff Shafer, on behalf of the family.

“The weight of legal and scholarly authority presented to this court in defense of homeschooling is unprecedented,” said Farris, who has argued dozens of similar cases since founding HSLDA 25 years ago.

In addition to those who presented oral argument, friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the right of parents to homeschool were submitted by Pacific Legal Foundation, National Legal Foundation, Sutherland Institute, Liberty Counsel on behalf of 13 members of Congress, Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, et al, Seventh Day Adventist Church State Council, Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence (prepared by noted law professors David Llewellyn, John Eastman, and Erwin Chemerinsky), American Center for Law and Justice and The Western Center for Law and Policy.

Farris is guardedly optimistic that the three-judge panel will not repeat its earlier error, but he covets your prayers. “The homeschooling movement has been successful not because of the work of lawyers but because the Lord has blessed it,” noted Farris. “We must always remember Proverbs 21:1—‘The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever he wishes.’ ”

A decision is expected within a few weeks.


J. Michael Smith
HSLDA President

Our prayer is that homeschooling remains unchanged in the state of California. Although we occasionally have a "bone to pick" with our homeschooling Independent Study Program (ISP), we value their oversight and commitment to academic excellence. The vast majority of homeschooling families we know do extraordinary work in educating their children. There are always a few families who don't do a good job, just as there are some public school teachers who are rather useless (I had quite a few of them, including every mathematics teacher I had from 7th grade onward).

Our ISP mandates annual standardized testing, quarterly progress reports that cover grades in academics and conduct as well as number of chapters/pages covered in each subject. We submit an Annual Course of Study for each student which the school looks over to make sure that the basics are being covered, plus we also meet with the principal or registrar to go over high school requirements and college admissions. The Class Day courses that are available for nursery through Honors English are optional; some families attend one Class Day (twice monthly) and some attend two (weekly classes). Heritage Christian School also provides access to tons of field trips and academic contests in art, poetry, essays, science, spelling and geography bees, etc. There's way more available than one family could possible do, so we look on all of the "extras" as a smorgasbord: we take what we like and leave the rest behind.

So we pray that homeschooling will remain unchanged in California as a "private school option" and that we can keep on teaching our kids at home with excellence. And I need to start ordering our new textbooks for the fall, don't I? High school chemistry, here we come!

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