Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Blasts Homeschool Ruling

WorldNetDaily | Bob Unruh | Mar. 7, 2008

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today blasted a court ruling that endangered homeschooling and homeschoolers statewide.

“Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children,” the governor said in a prepared statement. “Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education.”

The comments came after a state appellate court ruling essentially concluded California state law allows no option for parents to school their children at home. Homeschool and legal experts have expressed concern that the move puts all of the parents of the estimated 166,000 homeschooled children in the state at risk of both criminal and civil penalties.

“This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will,” he said.

The governor’s office said the ruling from the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles concluded “all children ages 6 to 18 must attend public or private school full-time until graduation from high school or be tutored at home by a credentialed teacher.”

The ruling resulted from a case involving the family of Phillip and Mary Long, who earlier described for WND their concerns with the public school district’s advocacy for alternative sexual lifestyles and the promotion of a faith in evolution.

“The parent-child relationship existed long before any government and makes it the responsibility of the parent to educate the child,” Long told California reporters today. He said the responsibility includes issues such as protecting children from things that are hazardous “emotionally” as well as physically.

But the court had concluded that state law doesn’t allow children to be taught by their parents in their homes, a result achieved by many families by having the parents register as a private school, which exempts them from the requirement of having credentialed faculty.

WND earlier reported Brad Dacus, chief of the Pacific Justice Institute, is planning an appeal to the state Supreme Court on behalf of the school in which the Long children were enrolled.

He said his concern is that the ruling might be used by “overzealous” school district officials and social workers to try to remove a child from a family.

“We are hoping enough common sense prevails for everyone to wait and see how this plays out before the state Supreme Court,” he said. But in California, such appellate level rulings are binding on lower courts when they are issued, he said.

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