Home Schooling: Fastest growing way to educate children (FCN, 09-28-2006)

LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) – Parents in California launched a petition drive to home school their children March 13 after the California Court of Appeals ruled they have no legal right to teach their children at home without credentials.

The Feb. 28 ruling reversed a previous Superior Court decision stating that parents have a constitutional right to school children in their own homes.


There are 166,000 home schooled children in California. Parents could be fined for civil contempt and children labeled truants if not enrolled in a public full-time day school or a legally qualified private day school.

The Feb. 28 decision stems from the case, In re RACHEL L. et al., which developed when one of Jonathan and Mary Grace’s eight children complained of physical and emotional mistreatment by their father. During investigations, child welfare investigators found that the minors were being home schooled through a non-credentialed teacher and a private school and reported that the home schooling was substandard.

Not so, said the Grace’s attorneys, who argued the couple was within its rights to home school their children because they are enrolled in the Sunland Christian School, an independent-study home school program, and because of their religious beliefs.

“The scope of this decision by the appellate court is breathtaking. It not only attacks traditional home schooling, but also calls into question home schooling through charter schools and teaching children at home via independent study through public and private schools,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, a legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights and other civil liberties. It represents Sunland Christian School.

The ruling does not require non-credentialed home schooling parents across the state to immediately enroll their children in public schools, according to the institute. But the organization expects the order to drastically limit parents’ rights to home school if it is not overturned.

In upcoming weeks, the institute intends to file appeals with the California Supreme Court, which could decide to review the ruling by this summer. Meanwhile, the institute encouraged home schooling parents to:

-Continue home schooling children and keep commonsense recordkeeping and documentation;

-Not to contact school districts, public schools or other public entities to determine the validity of programs; and

-Seek support of home school resolution ACR 115 from state legislators.

The petition to “Protect Your Constitutional Rights to Home school Your Children” calls on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to assist with efforts to reverse the decision. The home school ruling also follows Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposal to cut $4.8 billion from education.

Dr. Larry Muhammad, director of Muhammad University of Islam in Chicago, reflected on Elijah Muhammad’s, the patriarch of the Nation of Islam, battle with school officials in Michigan during the 1930s. That battle, he said, “is the foundation of the Muhammad University of Islam. The public school system, which the states are responsible for administering, relies heavily on money … this battle begins with the control of money and people.”

Dr. Muhammad opined that states lose money, about $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the state and school, from every child pulled out of public education. The control, he added, is an attempt to control religion and especially religious movements the United States does not favor or support.

Black education advocates believe the ruling will heavily impact Black children and parents, who are fast becoming a part of home schooling networks. According to the National Association of African American Homeschoolers Network, the population of Black home schooled children is between 84,000—120,000 and growing. Black parents, it states, believe that home schooling, or alternative education within their communities, helps them to rear academically and mentally well-rounded children.

“The public school systems within urban areas are struggling with academic deficiencies and violence. More and more parents are looking for another way. We are taking the destinies of our children into our own hands,” the association states on its website, www.aahn.org.

According to an article written by Jennifer James, director of the National African American Homeschoolers Alliance, home schooling represents new hope for Black children. “When parents take on the sacrifices to educate their children at home the results show that minority children read on par with their White counterparts.

“In fact, White and minority home-schoolers scored at the 87th percentile in reading and minorities trailed Whites in math by a mere 5 points,” she wrote in the 2004 article entitled, “Why Black Children Benefit From Home Schooling.” The figures stemmed from a longitudinal study conducted by Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute in 1997. Sixty-three percent of the minorities in the study were Black and Hispanic.