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Civil Disobedience Alert

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The LA Times reports,

Parents who lack teaching credentials cannot educate their children at home, according to a state appellate court ruling that is sending waves of fear through California's home schooling families.

..."Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children," wrote Justice H. Walter Croskey in a Feb. 28 opinion signed by the two other members of the district court. "Parents who fail to [comply with school enrollment laws] may be subject to a criminal complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction, and subject to imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and counseling program."

Maybe libertarians in California should hold a teach-in.

Comments and Sharing

CATEGORIES: Political Economy

COMMENTS (31 to date)
GU writes:

Hmmm, home-schooling is creepy, but it is definitely not unconstitutional.

Dain writes:

Home schooling is creepy?

Perhaps the "creepiness" has more to do with the nearly outlawed status (and extreme crowding out effect of state schooling) of homeschooling. Only "creepy" people attemtpt to defy the law and the status quo.

Brad Hutchings writes:

This was a big story on local talk radio this morning. The case involved a family where the Mom had an 11th grade education, there were numerous allegations of abuse against the parents, and the Dad said he'd up and move from California if he had to send his kids to school.

In practice, there is widespread civil disobedience against this law in California. But it's not a bunch of nuts like this family doing it. Yes, I am all for nuts being free too. And no, I don't think it's good to have laws on the books whose sole enforcement purpose is to give prosecutors more flexibility against nuts. But that's pretty much how this got where it got.

FC writes:

Presumably if she had a 12th grade education, everything would be fine.

paul writes:

It's for the children....

liberty writes:

What is creepy is that it could possibly be constitutional to ban parents from teaching kids themselves - or the corollary, that it could be constitutional to force parents (or the children) to attend schools, without even the option of learning in a private home environment instead.

Morally I'm for home schooling, but practically I'm against it except for certain circumstances.

I think where the creepy comment comes from is the social awkwardness that children who are home schooled show. Home schooling is unrealistic because the social aspect of schooling teaches people how to interact in their future lives.

Alex J. writes:

Philip Greenspun on yacht-schooled children.

Buzzcut writes:

Social aspects of school? Is that when my 6 year old comes home, flips me off, and asks what it means? Yeah, he learned that one on the bus. He's also learned the F word, B word, S word, and probably a few more that he hasn't asked me about yet. He's also learned a lot about movies and television shows that are entirely inappropriate for a 6 year old (who lets a first grader watch "Family Guy"?).

I wouldn't call what my kid learns at school "socialization". It is anti-social, by any definition.

So spare me your holier than thou argument that home schoolers aren't "socialized". They're damn well socialized. It's all of us public schoolers who are anti-social.

Dan Weber writes:

I thought home-schooling was nuts, until I seriously considered it as an alternative myself. We're not doing it (yet), but sitting down and thinking about the costs and benefits made me become a lot more accepting.

When the public school system fails your kid, you can try to sue and all that nonsense, but it's a lot easier on everyone (including your kid) to just pull them out.

Mitch Oliver writes:

Three disjointed comments:
I've always found the socialization arguments against homeschooling unfounded. Every homeschooled child I've met has been as well or better adjusted than public schooled children.

This is something that has been on the radar of homeschoolers for at least 6 years, so no one in that community will be surprised by this ruling.

The homeschoolers I've met would be open to such civil disobedience.

macquechoux writes:

"Home schooling is unrealistic because the social aspect of schooling teaches people how to interact in their future lives."

That sort of depends on which public school they would attend. I know several people that home school in Texas; it would appear that their children would learn how to become drop-outs, gang members, users and dealers, just to name several options from interaction with their peers in public school. By the way, it is my understanding that home schoolers are allowed to participate in sports and extra circular activities in the schools in their district. It is also my understanding that some do so. My casual observation is that less interaction with most public high school peers might turnout to be an asset in later years.

8 writes:

I've seen homeschoolers tend towards the religious on one end and "progressive" on the other, and both groups are are well versed in civil disobediance.

I'm interested in how homeschooling affects The Nuture Assumption. From what I've read of the arguments put forth, it makes a very good case for keeping your kids out of public school.

shecky writes:

Heh. Sure, kids would never learn how to flip the bird or any four letter words at home. Reminds me of that scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie blurts out the f*** word, and Mom demands to know where he learned it. Poor Ralphie knows he can't speak the truth, that his Father was a true master of the medium, and sets up his buddy as a fall guy instead.

Dan Weber writes:
Heh. Sure, kids would never learn how to flip the bird or any four letter words at home.
Obviously some kids learn at home. It has to start somewhere.

My kid has learned "ass" and "shit" from his classmates this year. I hope the NCLB test covers that!

Waldo writes:

I am appalled that my parents illegally home-schooled me in potty-training, dressing, toilet, bathing, eating, grooming, not punching my sister; the list of violations goes on and on. I have enough evidence to put those two away for a very long time.

mjh writes:

Re: Homeschool socialization and creepiness, I'd really like to see some non-anectdotal data on how homeschooled children behave socially. My children are homeschooled and I've heard this socialization criticism frequently. But it's typically made out of ignorance of the fact that my wife meets at least twice a week with other homeschooling families for fairly large group activities related to schooling. My children participate in organized sports as part of their physical education curriculum.

Are some homeschool kids weird and socially inept? Absolutely, but that's *not* unique to homeschooling. Every school I attended and every school I've ever seen portrayed anywhere always has the weird social outcasts in them.

So I'd really like to see actual data which shows the socialization impact of homeschooling. Does anyone have this?

Chuck writes:

Does this ruling imply that now California private schools can only hire teachers with "teaching credentials," whatever those are?

I'm not saying that all homeschooling creates socially inept children, but from my experience they are.

I was friends with a home schooled child through elementary school. He was extremely strange. On multiple occasions I went on group outings with the local home schooling associations, which I assume were to allow socialization among the kids. These events were like going back in time. I was struck by how socially akward and isolated these children were. This may have been partially due to the religious nature of the group, but nevertheless the difference between these children and children taught in classrooms was stark.

I'll grant you that this is anecdotal, but how else to people form their opinions? My experiences show me that I will never home school my children unless it becomes a matter of safety for them. Likewise I would never allow my children to be taught in sex segregated classrooms. Home schooling and sex segregated schooling is unrealistic. Because in the real world people have to interact with other people I could not justify educating them in such a manner.

Dan Weber writes:

Robert, maybe the kids were being home-schooled because their social ineptness tragically interferes with institutional learning?

Alon Honig writes:

First California bans horsemeat and now this. I Grew up in California in the 90's and never remember it being so excessive. Can someone please tell me, what is wrong with my state?

Eric H writes:

Regarding the awkwardness of the home-schooled, undoubtedly there must be some self-selection going on there. I'd guess a large number of the parents are probably on the autistic spectrum, many of them probably geniuses, but almost certainly they would have been awkward no matter where they went to school.

Go visit your local college mathematics or physics department for examples.

Independent George writes:

The socialization argument is a load of crap. Homeschooled kids aren't locked in the closet and forbidden from contact with the outside world. To the extent that they do have less socialization with other kids, they also have greater socialization with adults - which is generally a good thing.

Lost in all this is the question as to whether teaching certifications actually improve teaching quality. Like most education policies, it's about signalling through inputs (spend more!), as opposed to analysis of outputs (how much are they actually learning?).

CG writes:

Robert, how old are you? I would guess that the biggest factor in your experience is when you met your example. I am 33, reluctantly homeschooled for a couple years (6th/10th grade) and met other homeschoolers like you describe (this was also in very religious circles), felt like a freak, and hated every second of it. My 5-10 years younger siblings had a completely different experience with homeschooling, with a varied and lively social life and friendships that continue today. From what I see, the situation is dramatically improved today as the numbers increase and the population becomes less and less "fringe-y" and more diverse.

Anyway, peers don't socialize children ("to fit or train for a social environment"). Adults do. Otherwise, it's Lord of the Flies.

Let's not pretend that home schooled children are getting more interaction with adults. They are getting more interaction with their parents. Healthy socialization comes from being with children of the same age. The socialization argument is not "garbage" by any stretch of the imagination. The workplace is a group enviroment, leaving the kids at home with mom for 13 years does not teach children interaction skills. Can it be supplimented by other things like sports, yes, but those children are still the outcasts within the group.

And no I don't buy that children are being home schooled because they are socially inept, especially when they are home schooled from kindergarten. I also don't agree that home schooled children are all the product of socially akward geniuses. In my experience that vast majority are the product of highly religious parents who believe that the school system is corrupt. I believe it is a parents right to do so, but I also don't think you're helping your children out by setting them behind socially and culturally. Home schooled children may succeed mightily on testing but, especially in elementary school, it's irrelevant.

I am 21 so my experiences are not too far away. I'm also Canadian and I believe that there is probably a less established system here. Nevertheless the 2003 US census shows that a third of the homeschooling was due to religious reasons. It probably has and is improving as it becomes more popular. Still I will never home school my own children. With the choice between adaquate public schools and private schools there is enough to work with. Additionally discussions with your children about what they are learning still allows you to indoctrinate children with your views while allowing proper social interaction.

Unit writes:

Instead of "civic disobedience" I propose "civic paternalism". Politicians shouldn't have free-reign to regulate at their whims. We need to mandate all kinds of checks on their freedom.

I explore this issue at my place, more suggestions are welcome :)

George writes:

It's sad that all we can do is measure inputs like teaching certificates (which are held in universal esteem by everyone -- with a teaching certificate).

If only there were some way to measure whether students were actually learning anything. It may sound cruel, but what if at the end of every year (or semester), we had the kids spend a day filling out a simple assessment that showed roughly how much they know about various school subjects. Especially if we did it with all the kids, every year, we'd get a good idea how much they were learning from year to year, and a decent idea how effective their teachers (pros or parents) are.

Of course, maybe they tried this "testing" approach, and the home-schoolers beat the averages, or something ridiculous like that.

Kyle writes:

Robert said:

>Let's not pretend that home schooled children are >getting more interaction with adults.

I've been a participant in home-schooling on one side or another for the last 15 years...private tutor, then homeschool parent. I can say rather conclusively that in CA, TX, and IL where I have lived, and been involved with homeschooling, Robert is misinformed. There is more interaction with non-teacher adults among homeschoolers than among regularly schooled kids.

>They are getting more interaction with their >parents.

This is also true, which makes for a more pleasant family experience for the parents.

>Healthy socialization comes from being with >children of the same age.

So far as I know, this is (a) incorrect, and (b) a rather recent theory. Socialization comes from learning how to interact with people. Interacting with only people of the same age is a significant liability as compared post-school life.

>The socialization argument is not "garbage" by >any stretch of the imagination.

By "garbage", I assume that the prior poster means that the picture you paint of what homeschooling is is sufficiently far from the reality we homeschoolers participate in as to make your arguments ... irrelevant? Certainly if someone spent all their time at home with mom, that is not good socialization. Since homeschoolers have been worrying about that, and talking among themselves about that extensively for more than 30 years...they probably even have better information (and solutions) than you do. And that doesn't sound like any homeschool families I've known over the last 15 years in the community.

>The workplace is a group enviroment, leaving the >kids at home with mom for 13 years does not teach >children interaction skills.

If we're worried about workplace environments, it would be important to put kids in situations that are similar to work: different ages, backgrounds, authority/skill levels, etc. School seems to me to be horribly bad at that part until...grad school?

Matt writes:

The issue is individual instruction vs the teacher's union.

Individual instruction is always better, if you have a reasonably educated person monitoring and you work from good materials.

Arnold pointed this out some months ago.

R. Richard Schweitzer writes:

The real kicker in that opinion is the statement that

Parents do not have a constitutional right . . .

Is California now a jurisdiction where individual rights are derived from the state constitution?

Do Parents there have any rights with respect to their relations with and control over (responsibility for) their children other than those provided by that constitution?

By taking this approach, that court is saying that the state of CA. has a higher relationship standing with children than do their parents; SPARTA on the Pacific!

R. Richard Schweitzer writes:

OH ! Does this rule out helping with homework (and "projects')?

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