[Thanks to Judi Munday for sending us this article!]
Monday, June 23, 2008 (SF Chronicle)
Homeschool is a constitutional right for parents
Damien M. Schiff
Can California force parents to send their children outside the home for their education, regardless of the quality of instruction they receive at home? Today, the California Court of Appeal in Los Angeles will hear arguments in a case raising this issue – the constitutional rights of parents to direct the education of their children. The case arises out of a dependency hearing in which court-appointed attorneys for Jonathan and Mary Grace, two minor children who had been receiving instruction at home, asked the trial judge to order them to attend public school. The judge refused on the grounds that the parents have a constitutional right to homeschool their children. But the Court of Appeal reversed the ruling and interpreted California law as requiring homeschooling parents to have teaching credentials.
Understandably, the appellate court’s decision in February created an immediate controversy with homeschooling and parental rights’ advocates across the nation. Subsequently the Court of Appeal, in an unusual move, decided to withdraw its first decision, request additional briefing, and hear the case again.
But – should the court ultimately rule the same way – a mandate against homeschooling, rather than a focus on the merits of this individual case, makes no sense. For one, the court can resolve the appeal without addressing the constitutional issue by interpreting state law not to mrequire credentialing for homeschool instructors.
Damien M. Schiff is an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation. He submitted a brief to the Second District Court of Appeal, arguing against the court’s earlier ruling that outlawed homeschooling for non-credentialed parents. A link to our brief is at www.pacificlegal.org.
Copyright 2008 SF Chronicle