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March 07, 2008



Tim J.,

Home School Legal Defense Association has lots of information about the case and a petition to Request Depublishing of California Court Case In re Rachel L.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I ask in particular this special favor: Please help us to know God's will for our family regarding homeschooling. If we are called to homeschool, help us persevere in our daily efforts. Protect us from all that threatens our ability to educate our children at home, particularly governmental intervention in our homes.
Part of a novena our local homeschooling group is praying.

Please pray for all homeschooling families, especially those in California.

Take care and God bless,


It seems to be just a normal "evolution" of where that state is headed in terms of limiting the rights of Christians to have a say in their own lives. Thankfully we in Michigan have decent laws, but who knows what kind of legs it could grow these days.


"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

"Amendment 10 - Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Has the State of California stopped requiring that judges be able to read? The operant word in the Preamble is "Liberty." That's an old English word meaning, "The government shall stay out of the citizens' business." The Tenth Amendment makes it clear that the citizens' business is defined by the citizens, not by the government. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the government trumps the right of citizens to educate their own children.

Of course, maybe the State Constitution in California is worded differently. But I doubt it.

Give us a break. Maybe the Governator needs to explain things to this judge. Meanwhile, I'm glad I live somewhere else.

paul zummo

My original reaction to the story was one of outrage, but it seems that the problem is the misreporting (surprise!) of the LA Times. Here's what the decision actually means:

The ruling as described would effectively end homeschooling in California, and I agree that it would be an outrageous result. Fortunately, the LA Times misunderstood the case and that misunderstanding was carried over into the discussions of the bloggers listed above, who appear to have discovered the issue because they read the LA Times article or each other. (I am amused to discover that Memeorandum has aided the dissemination of an untrue meme.)

The short version: The LA Times got it wrong in the first sentence of their article. Parents without teaching credentials can still educate their children at home under the various exemptions to mandatory public school enrollment provided in § 48220 et seq. of the Cal. Ed. Code. The parents in this case lost because they claimed that the students were enrolled in a charter school and that with minimal supervision from the school, the children were free to skip classes so the mother could teach them at home. There is no basis in law for that argument. If only the parents had attempted to homeschool their kids in one of the statutorily prescribed methods, they would have prevailed.

On the flipside, I go into more detail about the case and just where the LA Times went wrong. Though fun and probably helpful for homeschool advocates, the OUTRAGE over this case is based on a completely manufactured premise. But they and the LA Times should be admonished for unnecessarily scaring parents.

There may be some disagreement with this assessment, and I haven't looked too closely at the case itself. It still wind up imperiling home schooling, but for now there isn't cause for concern.

paul zummo

The middle three paragraphs above were not written originally by me, but at the link I posted. Couldn't blockquote for some reason.

"Parents without teaching credentials can still educate their children at home under the various exemptions to mandatory public school enrollment provided in § 48220 et seq. of the Cal. Ed. Code."

But paul z., don't those exemptions require that parents be certified or hire a certified tutor to teach their kids? In a practical sense, that's n o different than making home schooling illegal.

Tim J.

Sorry, that was me.

Tim J.

And if the parents aren't required to be certified, they must have their children enrolled in a state-approved curriculam, isn't that correct?

That's the death of home shooling.


So lets get this right....parents do not have a constitutional right to teach their children ...but they can kill them before they are born.

I think the framers of the constitution would not agree.

Smoky Mountain

As a general principle, what is so wrong with requiring parents who homeschool to provide some evidence of their competence? Is the answer that the state shouldn't require us to have a certain minimum level of education?

I can sympathize with concern over state-sponsored curricula, particularly as it may present certain topics which are considered immoral by Catholics and Christians; however, I think there are many curricular areas which should not pose a moral concern to parents and which require competent individuals to properly teach: math, grammar, reading, physics, etc.

Won't little Jimmy be at a disadvantage for the rest of his life if Mom doesn't know the first thing about algebra?

That's not to say homeschooling should be illegal in any way, but why shouldn't we require proof of competence in the parents? It seems to me that it's a matter of protecting the child's interests.

I'll grant that I don't know the first thing about how homeschooling generally works; perhaps there are support structures in place to make up for parental deficiencies. I'm certainly open to correction.


paul zummo

Tim J:

To be honest, I am not sure. Again, I really haven't looked at the ruling, but am relaying what I have heard in other quarters. It would seem that you are correct, though, that this would still require some amount of certification. I guess the question is what type of certification? A teaching degree, or some sort of simple certificate granted to pretty much anyone that can display simple competency? If the former, then homeschoolers are indeed in trouble. If the latter, then things should be okay.

You might want to follow the debate in the comments at the link I cited because there were a few lawyers with more experience than I debating these issues.

Scott W.

As a general principle, what is so wrong with requiring parents who homeschool to provide some evidence of their competence?

Nothing and everything. Nothing because most states to my knowledge require every kid homeschooled or not to meet certain testing requirements. In other words, if homeschooled kids test as well as others (and overall they test better) then that is sufficient evidence of parental competence. Everything because it is readily apparent that this isn't about parent's competence, but hampering parents because der's social engineering test subjects in them thar hills.

J.R. Stoodley

Anyone know of any Magisterial documents that support the idea of a right to educate your children in any way you want, or the existence of rights at all? I've been loosing a debate elsewhere with someone who insists that there is just no such thing as rights, just gifts from God and justice so forth.

J.R. Stoodley

A more direct question, what about a case where a parent simply was not giving their child a good education? At what point can the State justifiably get involved. Is the right (assuming there is such a right) of the parent to educate their child contingent on the child still getting a quality education in the end?


J.R. Stoodley,

Here are a two documents:

Article 5
Since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them; hence they must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children.

The Right and Duty of Parents Regarding Education
36. The task of giving education is rooted in the primary vocation of married couples to participate in God's creative activity: by begetting in love and for love a new person who has within himself or herself the vocation to growth and development, parents by that very fact take on the task of helping that person effectively to live a fully human life. As the Second Vatican Council recalled, "since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children.

Take care and God bless,

Brian Day

For another take on this, look at the Volokh Conspiracy (a group legal blog) for their discussion on this.


If parents don't have a constitutional right to homeschool their children, what did the framers of the Constitution have in mind? After all, there weren't many public schools around at that time, (and even they were intended only for the Brahmin elite's; Boston Latin School comes to mind for instance) and certainly no compulsory schooling laws.

George Tutor

"There are two private school options for homeschooling [in California]: (1) enroll in a private school independent study program or (2) establish a private school in one's own home... A tutor can be a parent or other person who holds a current California credential for the grade levels of the homeschooled children."


George Tutor

"California has no specific homeschooling law and homeschoolers may choose one of five different legal options:
(1) private school independent study program,
(2) establishment of a private school in one's own home,
(3) public school independent study program,
(4) charter school independent study program, and
(5) tutoring by a credentialed teacher (parent or other). "

Brian Day

I might as well link the story where I first read about this.

What is interesting to me was this graph:
Yet the appeals court said state law has been clear since at least 1953, when another appellate court rejected a challenge by homeschooling parents to California's compulsory education statutes. Those statutes require children ages 6 to 18 to attend a full-time day school, either public or private, or to be instructed by a tutor who holds a state credential for the child's grade level.

So the requirement has been in place for at least 55 years. Interesting.

While I think that the court is wrong, they do have the power of the state behind them. If a "credential" is truly needed, then I think there is a reasonably easy way around this.

My wife just received her credential to teach adult education (way to go, honey) for arts and crafts, and communications - mostly for nursing home settings here in California). While she was going through the accreditation process, it was very interesting to see how many levels of credentials there were. Keep in mind that my wife do not have a four year degree - but has plenty of experience in the field of education. All it took was a couple of night courses (about 2 hours of 7-9 sessions each) - and a bunch of paperwork. :p

I don't see it as a big deal to create one more level of credential - expressly for home schooling. The bar would be reasonable low so any motivated parent could get one. The state has a minimum amount of oversight. Not a win-win, but a compromise that I think many could live with.

Let me state again that I don't think that the state should interfere with home schooling, but if there is no other choice, then this might be a viable option.

George Tutor


40. The family is the primary but not the only and exclusive educating community. Man's community aspect itself-both civil and ecclesial-demands and leads to a broader and more articulated activity resulting from well-ordered collaboration between the various agents of education. All these agents are necessary, even though each can and should play its part in accordance with the special competence and contribution proper to itself.

David B.

JP II didn't oppose Catholic parents homeschooling their own children, FWIW.

Sifu Jones

I work for a large Catholic homeschooling organization that is one of the few that is nationally accredited. Meaning, we have the same legal accreditation, as a homeschool, as any public school anywhere in the country. Colleges are required to accept our students' grades with the same validity as if they were from a public or chartered private school.

Even with those legal credentials that many other homeschools lack, we are required to keep an office in California in order to process our students' assignments and tests. It is the only state, as far as I know, that forces us to do that. The reason is, California requires schools to operate in the state to accommodate the law in question, which was written specifically to crack down on homeschooling.

Make no mistake, as Scott said above, it's all about the lefties out there trying to crack down on opposing viewpoints. It seems that their goal isn't to convert others to their way of thinking, but to drive them out of the state altogether.

I wonder what the governator will do about it, if anything?


Outlandish! This is one of the most egregious acts of stupidity and outright liberalism I have ever seen. Indeed it is about suppressing one of the last bastions of the conservative, traditional culture; homeschoolers. Unbelievable. A parent doesn't have the right to school their child because the government hasn't granted it. The government! Where do we live for crying out loud?

I'm a public school teacher and my biggest quibble is that parents are not involved enough and want teachers to be educator, parent, doctor, counselor, etc. Should a parent not give their child cough syrup or administer to them when sick since they don't have a license to practice medicine? The analogies are endless.

Dean Steinlage

Sifu Jones,
My wife and I are interested in homeschooling.
Could you bounce me an e-mail on your organization?

Kathy Allen

If it's true that Federal law trumps state law, we shouldn't have to worry. In 1922, the legislature in Oregon decided that all parochial and private schools would be closed. This was to facilitate integration of immigrants, I believe. The case was eventually referred to the US Supreme Court under the title Pierce vs the Society of Sisters (of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.) Here are some quotes about the case from Wikipedia.
"James Clark McReynolds wrote the opinion of the Court. He stated that children were not "the mere creature[s] of the state" (268 U.S. 510, 535), and that, by its very nature, the traditional American understanding of the term liberty prevented the state from forcing students to accept instruction only from public schools. He stated that this responsibility belonged to the child's parents or guardians, and that the ability to make such a choice was a "liberty" protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Yessssss!

Sleeping Beastly

Inocencio: Thanks for posting the link to the petition. This appears to be the best response to the ruling, and I'm grateful to the HSLDA for taking this approach.

J.R. Stoodley: You may wind up losing that debate unless you can agree with your co-debater on the definition of "rights." Email me the link to the debate if you can; I'm intrigued.

George Tutor: This ruling effectively neutered options 1 and 2 outlined in your comment; the Longs were using the private school ISP option, which the court deemed insufficient.

Brian Day: Your solution isn't a bad one, but I'd caution against believing everything you read on the Chronicle's website. (I live in San Francisco, and have to say that their reporting is often very poor.) What they don't mention is that homeschooling was ruled to be legitimate in two cases in Santa Maria in 1986. I can't find the case they mention from 1953, and I'd be curious to know how much it actually relates to the subject.

There's no doubt in my mind that this is an unlawful attack on the family that conscientious parents are going to need to find some way around.

Dan Hunter

The California Daily Catholic is reporting that Governor Schwarzennegger is completely against the homeschooling ban and says that it must be reversed.
This is the only Catholic statement he has released, ever, but God bless him for it.

God bless you.

Dan Hunter

Here is Governor Shwarzennegger's quote:

"Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide what's best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their childrens education.
This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts, and if the courts don't protect parents rights then, as elected officials, we will."

Arnold Schwarzennegger.


From the California Department of Education web site:


Is home schooling recognized in California as exempting a student from public school attendance?

California statutes do not explicitly authorize home schooling. Whether a home schooled child is attending a private school, and therefore is exempt from public school attendance, is a decision made by local school districts and law enforcement authorities.

May a parent who is home schooling his or her own child file a Private School Affidavit?

Yes. A parent offering or providing private school instruction and who meets the requirements of EC Section 33190 may file an Affidavit in the manner described. However, filing such an Affidavit with the CDE does not constitute any opinion by the CDE as to whether a student enrolled in that school is exempt from public school attendance.

They're pretty big on this public school attendance thing. And it sounds as if the parents in question were trying to play fast and loose with the rules.

What I want to know is, what is California going to do with parents who are homeschooling and who have their stuff together? If there has been a decision on the books since 1953, why hasn't this issue been confronted before?

George Tutor

This ruling effectively neutered options 1 and 2 outlined in your comment; the Longs were using the private school ISP option, which the court deemed insufficient.

Partially so. The court neutered the private school ISP option if it was being used to go beyond the legislature approved purpose "to provide students with certain educational opportunities, such as education during travel, or individualized study in an area of interest or subject not currently available in the regular school curriculum." Such specialized independent study is clearly not a substitute for a person's general education. Likewise, the court did not find that the mother's home was the equivalent of a private full-time day school setting, but referred to it as a "ruse of enrolling them in a private school and then letting them stay home and be taught by a non-credentialed parent."

Brian Day

Sleeping Beastly: "but I'd caution against believing everything you read on the Chronicle's website" as opposed to Tim J's citation of the LA Times? 8) But your point is valid about believing everything presented by the media.

That's why I referenced the Volokh site up above. There is a lot of snarkiness in the comments, but you'll also find lots of god discussion of the merits of various court cases on how the case could proceed on appeal.

Michael Archangelo

If we believe, as the Church has consistently taught, that "parents are the first teachers of their children," then we must agree that homeschooling is a natural and God-given right. To force parents to choose an educational means which they have deemed inappropriate for their children is nothing less than the denial of a primary parental right.


Pierce vs the Society of Sisters did state that the state had the authority to regulate all schools -- just not into non-existence.

And since California is not trying to shut down all private schools, they may be able to get around Pierce.

I have no doubt that we will see.


Spent an hour reading up on this last night.

Since posting the above, I came across some more info that clarifies the family's situation. They are NOT child-abusing wackos, they just spanked their kids, is all (which is a prosecutable offense in California, apparently). They have eight kids, and father Philip declares he will not have them in public schools being taught gay propaganda and what-not.

Also Sunland Christian School is an accredited homeschool-type curriculum, which is considered a charter school under the laws of California, but operates much the same as any pre-packaged homeschool curriculum. So Mom is OK with teaching the kids.

Moreover, the genius judges who decided this case did not invite any testimony from the school or any home schooling advocates. By referring to this homeschooling situation as a "ruse," the 75-year old senior judge on the panel is accusing homeschooling parents of fraud-- betraying either his complete ignorance of how homeschooling is supposed to work, or the fact that he knows about it and is dead-set against it.

I wish it didn't look this bad, but the more I read, the worse it looked.

Relevant links may be found by Googling "California homeschool news".

I am no lawyer, but I sure hope this gets thrown out by the CA State Supreme Court, and I think it will--but it will take a long time and keep a lot of parents in trepidation.

My advice for Californians who want to have any say in what happens to their kids at this point is...walk. Vote with your feet. Maybe when California is left with only immigrants and welfare recipients will they finally get a clue.


It seems the government wants to control every way we think now days. Please pray for Homeschooling.


VIDEO: Born Alive Infants Protection Act


Has anyone seen this yet? Please pass it on.


Bill Logan

I am not sure why people who would probably be skeptical of a media report on Catholicism are suddenly so credulous of a media report on a legal matter. You need to read the actual court opinions in this case.

1) The published court opinion (on the legal question of whether or not home schooling is Constitutional) can be found at this link (note: pdf file).

2) The unpublished court opinion (giving the facts of this case and addressing the other legal questions before the court) can be found by going to this website and clicking the link in the second paragraph that says "related case." (note: that ultimate link will also be a pdf file).

If you think the news reports are giving you any idea of what's going on in this case, you are wrong.


I am not sure why people who would probably be skeptical of a media report on Catholicism are suddenly so credulous of a media report on a legal matter.

Fair point.

Okay, let's see. The first page of the published court opinion seems to suggest that "parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children," and that full-time public school attendance is mandatory unless the child (1) attends a full-time private school, (2) has a grade-level credentialed tutor, or (3) a scant few other exceptions blah blah blah.

Okay, that about does it for me. Given that much, I don't care all that much about the facts of this particular case, or what the news reports may be misreporting.



Bill Logan

Steven, I think you might have objections if someone watched only the first minute of a movie and then spewed off about what they thought the movie meant based on their preconceived notions about it. You might object even more if that person then stated they didn't really care what the movie was about. Why not give this case the same attention you hopefully give to your professional work?

If you want to read an actual legal analysis about this case, try the one on the Ace of Spades site. (This is the same link Paul Zummo provided above.)

There are reasons that the family has been involved with the court system for 20 years. Those reasons do not involve "home schooling." And if you believe the father's self-righteous blather about religious oppression, you're being played. Probably the worst thing that can happen for home schooling is for this family to be adopted as a poster child for the movement.

The published opinion presents almost no facts about the case because it deals with only the home school question, which was a smaller part of the larger case. Start your reading with the unpublished opinion.



WADR, who is this Ace of Spades? On his web site he has a PayPal button that says "I have no life. Give me your money." Is this your legal analysis? Should we disregard the statements made by California Homeschool Network?


Or by Pacific Justice Institute?


How about the HSLDA?


Have these people just gotten it wrong where the occasional rogue blogger got it right?

Granted it sounds like the family is really a mess, per ConWebBlog. But that doesn't get to the implications of the court's ruling.

Things look pretty bad to me...but heck, I'm not trying to start an argument. I hope I'm wrong.

Let's stop hand-wringing and find some facts.

Tim J.

"Probably the worst thing that can happen for home schooling is for this family to be adopted as a poster child for the movement."

Which is why I have no interest in doing so. This post focuses on the statement of an appellate court judge that "Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.".

This concerns not just this particular ruling, but the legal reasoning (or lack of it) behind the ruling and its effect on the broader home school movement, as well as the civil rights of parents in general.

The parents might be kooks AND the California law might still be over-reaching and a violation of civil rights. Such things have been known to happen.

I stand by my opening response to the judge's statement... parents do not need the permission of the state (via the Constitution) to home school their children.

George Tutor

This post focuses on the statement of an appellate court judge

Signed by all three judges on the panel.


This just arrived, via 'e-lert', from HSLDA:

'Did the February 28 Ruling Intend to Affect All Homeschooling

Some have contended that the decision of the Court of Appeal in In Re
Rachel L. only affects that particular family. While a court order can
only direct one family to stop homeschooling, the case clearly sets a
legal precedent that will be binding against all other families if
this case is not reversed. (Technically, the decision is binding only
in the Second District which consists of Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo,
Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. However, other appellate
districts will normally treat it as persuasive precedent. If ratified
by the Supreme Court of California, it formally binds all California

There are two basic issues in the case:

1. Does state law allow parents to homeschool without a state teaching

2. If not, is this law unconstitutional?

Below are three short quotations from the case which give the clear

"It is clear to us that enrollment and attendance in a public
full-time day school is required by California law for minor children
unless (1) the child is enrolled in a private full-time day school and
actually attends that private school, (2) the child is tutored by a
person holding a valid state teaching credential for the grade being

"California courts have held that under provisions in the Education
Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to school their
children in their own home."

"We agree with the Shinn court's statement that 'the educational
program of the State of California was designed to promote the general
welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the
personal ideas of any individual in the field of education."

In the first quote the court makes it clear that it believes that
parents may not operate their own private schools. In the second they
deny that a parent has a constitutional right to homeschool, and in
the third they concur that California law does not accommodate parents
pursuing their own education program for their children.

As you can see, the decision is categorical and was not written to be
limited to just the facts of this case.'

More info here:



Bravo Tim. Well said. Is the Governor going to take the full responsibility of our children if we send them to traditional schools? I don't think so.


"As a general principle, what is so wrong with requiring parents who homeschool to provide some evidence of their competence?"

So, who decides what "competent" is? If homeschoolers do submit to their "competence" test, can we give them one, too? I mean, since homeschoolers tend to do better than public schooled kids on the state tests and all, you might as well make it worth our time.

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