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article imageThe Terminator Has The Backs Of California Homeschoolers

By KJ Mullins     Mar 8, 2008 in World
Homeschoolers in California have a hero in their corner after the state appeals court ruled Feb. 28 to severely restrict homeschooling after hearing a case that involved one family. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denounced that ruling.
Schwarzenegger has also promised parents they will be able to educate their children at home if they choose to even if it means he has to change the law himself.
"Every California child deserves a quality education, and parents should have the right to decide what's best for their children," Schwarzenegger said in response to the ruling, which said children educated at home must be taught by a credentialed teacher.
"Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children's education," Schwarzenegger said. "This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts, and if the courts don't protect parents' rights then, as elected officials, we will."
In California this ruling affects the estimated 166,000 children who are educated by their parents at home or in independent study programs. As an earlier article at Digital Journal by journalist Susan Duclos explained the court ruling makes it illegal for parents to do so unless they have a teacher's certification. Otherwise children between the ages of 6 to 18 must attend public or private school full time until they graduate from high school.
Prior to the ruling California had no laws addressing homeschooling in the California Education Code. Homeschool advocates want that to remain the way for their comrades.
"We just want to leave it alone because it's good the way it is," said Loren Mavromati, who homeschools her two children and volunteers with the California Homeschool Network, an advocacy organization made up mostly of homeschooling parents. "The law as it stands is working well in California."
The ruling arrived with the case of Phillip and Mary Long of Lynwood and their eight children. Mary Long has taught her children who were also enrolled in a private school's independent study program. The school included quarterly home visits by officials of the school to check on progress of the eight Long children. Their 54 year old father objected to the children being taught evolution and awareness of homosexuality, both issues against his belief system in school.
"I want to keep and protect them until I feel they're mature enough to deal with these issues," he said. "I believe the creator wants us to protect our children from things we believe are hazardous to their character."
Homeschooling has been at odds with education officials in the past. In 2002 then Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin tried to make the act of educating children at home by their parents illegal. The Legislature though declined to take her stand on the matter. Since that time though homeschoolers haven't faced opposition for their educational choices. In the meantime homeschooling has become more mainstream with even the Ivy Leagues vying for the top homeschooling pupils. the National Spelling Bee has had several homeschoolers in the top ten for the past few years.
With the many different styles of educating children homeschooling guidelines could prove to be challenging.
For now, Schwarzenegger is prepared to wait and see if the courts will resolve this case, spokeswoman Sabrina Lockhart said.
"He believes parents should have the right and flexibility to homeschool their children," she said.
If court appeals fail, legislation would be an option, Lockhart said. But she added that "what that legislation looks like at this point is premature."
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