An appellate court in Los Angeles has ruled that a California couple must enroll their children in school. In this case, the parents have had several run-ins with protective services, and the intent of this particular ruling seems to be to ensure that someone outside the family can see whether they’re being abused. But it’s potentially more far-reaching than that:
Unlike at least 30 other states, home schooling is not specifically addressed in California law. Under the state education code, students must be enrolled in a public or private school, or can be taught at home by a credentialed tutor.
There are any number of reasons why parents might want to homeschool their children: maybe they’re afraid of school shootings, or think that they can do a better job than the public schools. But some people are obviously afraid that their children might become educated:
Glenn and Kathleen, a Sacramento-area couple who requested that their last name not be used for fear of prosecution, home school their 9-year-old son Hunter because their Christian beliefs would be contradicted in a public school setting, Glenn said. He is troubled by the idea that his son would be exposed to teachings about evolution, homosexuality, same-sex marriage and sex education .
Oh, noes! God forbid kids should learn how their bodies work! Then they might make responsible sexual choices and not accidentally conceive the next generation of warriors for Christ! And they might learn that there are (gasp!) homosexuals in California. Heavens!
But this is what education is all about: learning things and being exposed to new ideas. What these parents are saying, in effect, is that their beliefs can’t hold their own in a free marketplace of ideas, or else that they don’t trust their children to tell good ideas from bad ones on their own. Either way, is this really something that should be encouraged?
If the above summary of California law on education is accurate, then what it boils down to is “If you don’t want to send your kids to public school, that’s fine. You can send them to a private school, or teach them yourself, as long as they’re being taught by someone qualified.” This is the same as saying, “You can take your kids to the state-run hospital to get their shots; or you can take them to a private clinic; or you can even administer the shots yourself, if you’ve demonstrated that you can do it properly.” But apparently that’s not good enough. These people are fighting for the right to have unqualified people teach their kids.
The California constitution, Article XI, says:
A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the Legislature shall encourage by all suitable means the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral, and agricultural improvement.
Which I guess pretty much constitutes a right to education. As I said above, there are plenty of valid reasons to homeshool one’s children, but keeping them ignorant isn’t one of them.