The unfolding legal challenge to homeschooling in California caught many by surprise. Here is what happened – courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The ruling arose from a child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long of Lynwood, who have been homeschooling their eight children. Mary Long is their teacher, but holds no teaching credential.”

“The Second District Court of Appeal ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time public or private schools or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home.”

The entire background is here:

As of March 25th, 2008, The California Court of Appeal has agreed to re-hear the case. Michael Farris, chairman of HSLDA commented: “This is a great first step. We are very glad that this case will be reheard and that this opinion has been vacated, but there is no guarantee as to what the ultimate outcome will be. This case remains our top priority,” he added.

The lesson we can all take from this is that, once again we as home educators must be vigilant. Many of us in the homeschooling community have grown complacent in recent years. We in Ohio have enjoyed a long run of stability and favor among the mostly home school friendly Republican majority in state government. That stability could be in danger as the political winds change throughout the state and the nation.

Not everyone in California was unhappy about the court’s decision. The ruling was applauded by a director for the state’s largest teachers union.

“We’re happy,” said Lloyd Porter, who is on the California Teachers Association board of directors. “We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting.”

It is important that we know exactly who our political adversaries are. There are organizations right here in Ohio that are actively seeking to restrict or regulate home education.

How can PEACH members do their part? Here are five suggestions:

  1. Get to know your state and local elected officials. Find out where they stand on homeschooling. If there is a local or state official that isn’t “homeschool friendly” work to support a candidate who is. If there isn’t a suitable candidate, consider running yourself.
  2. Join an organization like HSLDA that fights for the rights of homeschooling families.
  3. Consider supporting ParentalRights.Org. They are working on a long term solution to the issue via a constitutional amendment.
  4. Join CHEO – Christian Home Educators of Ohio. They work to promote homeschooling at the state level. They also employ a part-time lobbyist to stay abreast of possible legal threats and to maintain relationships with lawmakers.
  5. Be alert. The California case described above began as a child welfare case and the proceedings were kept secret until the ruling was handed down. As a result, HSLDA and the California State knew nothing about it. If you hear or see anything that causes concern, let one of the PEACH officers know about it.

If we each do our part, hopefully we won’t be caught flat-footed if a challenge like the one in California happens here.

Complacency is not an option

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