A ruling by a California appeals court that parents “do not have a constitutional right to home-school their children” drew harsh criticism from religious conservatives on Friday, one of whom said the decision makes tens of thousands of parents into criminals – “the equivalent to drug dealers or pick-pockets.”
“The court is guilty of an imperious assault on the rights of parents,” James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, said in a press release responding to a three-judge panel from the 2nd District Court of Appeals, which ruled on Feb. 28 that parents without teaching credentials cannot home-school their children. He goes on to say, “How dare these judges have the audacity to label tens of thousands of parents as criminals – the equivalent to drug dealers or pick-pockets – because they want to raise and educate their children according to their deeply held values.”
The article points out that one of the main reasons for the case involves a Southern California couple who home-schooled their children through a program at the Sunland Christian School in Sylmar. The family came to the attention of Los Angeles County social workers when one of the children claimed the father was physically abusive. It was then discovered that all eight children in the family were home-schooled, and an attorney representing the two youngest children asked the Juvenile Dependency Court to order that they be enrolled in public or private school to protect their well-being.
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,” wrote Justice H. Walter Croskey, whose decision was joined by the other two members of the panel.
But the case before the judges “involved one couple – the ruling should have been confined to that one couple, not used to punish an entire class of people, the vast majority of them religious conservatives,” Dobson said.
Some have the opinion that many home schools are run by well-meaning but gullible parents, including those who educate their children according to their “religious convictions” and see home-schooling as the best way to combat our nation’s “ungodly” public schools. However, these parents are really not qualified to teach and would be wise to help their children and themselves by leaving the responsibility of teaching math, science, art, writing, history, geography and other subjects to those who are knowledgeable, trained and motivated to do the best job possible.
I can see their point but to classify “all” parents who home school as criminals is just wrong and in reality is an attack of the family. Rather laws should be focused on making sure that parents who wish to home school are qualified as opposed to removing their right to home school altogether.
This is especially important seeing that public schools are becoming more liberal all the time, teaching not only the fundamentals (reading, writing and math) but trying to incorporate sexual education, theories of evolution, homosexuality as a choice and other non-Christian ideals.
Dobson noted that he views the court’s decision an all-out assault on the family, and it must be met with a concerted effort to defend parents and their children. “We will team with key allies and use every means at our disposal to make sure that not just every Californian, but every American, is aware of this miscarriage of justice,” Dobson said. “And we’re hopeful that, in the end, common sense and legal sanity will prevail.”
That battle may not be far off, since Phillip Long – the father in the original case – has already vowed to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. “I have sincerely held religious beliefs,” he told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. “Public schools conflict with that. I have to go with what my conscience requires me to do.”
Another legal showdown we as Christians will want to keep an eye on as we continue to see our values attached through the legal process.
David Wallace is a search & social media marketer who lives in Ahwatukee, Arizona with his lovely wife. Interests & hobbies include Christianity, musicianship, all things Disney, and roller coasters to name a few.