Home schoolers in California and their supporters are celebrating a legal decision in which the court handing down the ruling actually reversed itself.
Earlier today (Friday) the California Court of Appeal ruled that the state's education code allows parents to home school their children. That decision means parents do not have to obtain state credentials in order to home school. The court acknowledged that a state prohibition on home schooling would intrude on parents' constitutional right to direct their children's education, and that that any limit on that right would be presumed unconstitutional. Gary McCaleb, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, is pleased that the court decided parents have a constitutional right to make educational choices for their children. "Thousands of California families have educated their children through home schooling," he states. "[This decision] protects the rights of families and protects an avenue of education that has proven to benefit children time and time again."
In early March a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal determined that parents in the Golden State had no legal right to home school -- a ruling that one Christian attorney said would leave thousands of students subject to criminal sanctions unless reversed.
Mike Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), says today's ruling was unexpected. "We're very thrilled, not just a little bit, [and] we're surprised as well," he remarks. "To get a court to do a 180-degree reversal is a remarkable thing and we view it as a blessing from God. We're really thankful for it, and there's hundreds of thousands of home-school kids in California who are now able to breathe a sigh of relief."
Farris says groups like the Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Counsel, HSLDA, and Focus on the Family teamed up and were armed with new information that compelled the court to uphold parents' constitutional right to educate their children at home.
We rejoice and give thanks and glory to God for a complete reversal by the same court who first declared home education "unconstitutional" unless the teaching parent held a valid California teaching credential. Today's victory will allow us to begin our 11th year of home schooling in a little more than two weeks in the confidence that we are doing so legally. We celebrate this decision of the California Supreme Court, along with the thousands of other California home schooling families. Woo-hoo!
I only wish that home education were legal in other countries as it has now been declared so in California courts today. Earlier this week I read of a German homeschooling family whose five children were forcibly removed from parental custody because the family has educated the children at home. The children have been subjected to psychological testing (which showed them as being perfectly normal) and are now being put into Germany's equivalent of foster care, even though the parents have declared that they will place their children into public schools at their earliest convenience. You may read the entire story here. It's so sad that families are being broken up because the German government doesn't approve of homeschooling. Other countries in the EU are placing pressure on Germany for this latest attack on home education, and we can only pray that the political pressure, as well as God's guidance, will allow home schooling families to remain intact within Germany, from which hundreds of home schooling families have fled over the past few years. So please continue to pray for home schooling freedoms to remain just that: free.