Thursday, March 20, 2008


Yes, Woodrow Wilson did say that the purpose of education is to make children “as unlike their fathers as we can.” That statist goal seems to have motivated a recent California Appeals Court ruling on home schooling.

Justice H. Walter Croskey and two other black-robed despots issued an opinion on February 28 (In re Rachel L.) that overturned the decision of Superior Court Judge Stephen Marpet. Marpet had ruled that “parents have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home.” Croskey and company, however, discounted U. S. Supreme Court cases (like Wisconsin v. Yoder) that informed the lower court decision and issued a precedent-shattering opinion that appears to prohibit non-credentialed parents from home schooling their own children.

The fact that the home schooling in question was done under the supervision of an accredited private school didn’t impress this judicial Troika. Nor did the quality of the school’s curriculum seem to matter—or the fact that Sunland Christian School had been operating as a home schooling program in compliance with state laws for more than twenty years. Instead, the tribunal regarded the parents’ relationship with Sunland as a “ruse” and focused on a 1953 ruling that supported their state-certified conclusion.

Whatever the nebulous child welfare issues involved in this case, there was no good reason for the court to deliver such a sweeping decision instead of one narrowly tailored to the specific situation. Brad Dacus, President of the Pacific Justice Institute, said if the court’s ruling isn’t reversed, “more than 166,000 students currently receiving an education at home will be subject to criminal sanctions.”

That comment echoes Justice Croskey’s own words, which warned parents that they “may be subject to a criminal complaint against them…[or] to imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and counseling program."

Any bright individual who’s spent time in education knows that teacher certification is itself one of the biggest “ruses” in the professional world. Indeed, at the prep-school where I taught for two decades, education degrees were regarded less highly than discipline-specific degrees—while certification was viewed as a scrap of paper when weighed against a candidate’s academic competence and his or her ability to perform in class.

As scholars like Thomas Sowell have pointed out ad nauseam, education majors consistently rank toward the bottom of the barrel when it comes to test scores—a fact that explains the relative simplicity of California’s C-BEST test and, even more, why teachers unions and their judicial shills despise competition. What they want is a monopoly that creates as many union jobs and PC socialist students as possible.

The good news is that even Education Superintendent Jack O’Connell, knows better than to support this absurd ruling. Moreover, North County’s Assembly Representatives, following El Cajon’s Joel Anderson, are backing a resolution (A.C.R. 115) that calls on the California Supreme Court to reverse the Appeals Court’s folly. If it doesn’t, the U.S. Supreme Court probably will—and certainly should.

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