Brown, Schwarzenegger rally behind homeschoolers

Chris Rizo May 21, 2008, 12:25pm

Jerry Brown

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown is urging a state appeals court to reconsider a ruling that parents must hold teaching credentials to homeschool their children.

Brown, along with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the 2nd District Court of Appeal to send the case back to a trial judge.

They want the lower court to determine whether there are other ways parents who home school their children may satisfy California's compulsory education laws.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal made its ruling in February, which could affect thousands of California's homeschooled children, critics say.

The decision, which has been vacated, found that California's compulsory attendance law permits homeschooling only if the parent or guardian has a valid state teaching credential for every grade to be taught at home.

Nineteen members of Congress also submitted an amicus brief, urging the appeals court to remand the case back to a trial court. Their brief was prepared by Liberty Counsel, the conservative legal group based in Los Angeles.

Among other things, critics of the ruling argue that for years the state has given homeschoolers the ability to establish their homes as private schools so long as they meet certain requirements.

"The Education Code provides a broad statutory basis for homeschooling in California, setting forth three different avenues through which parents may legally homeschool their children," the brief submitted by Brown and Schwarzenegger said.

California's three statewide homeschool organizations - the California Homeschool Network, Christian Home Educators Association of California and Homeschool Association of California- have also filed an amicus brief in the case.

Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, said California parents "have a fundamental right to direct the education of their children," which includes the right to homeschool.

"We must assume that parents will act in the best interest of their children and that parents, not the government, know what is best for their children. Homeschooling has become phenomenally successful," he said.

"Homeschooled children routinely out-perform children educated in the public schools. Some of the brightest minds in American history were homeschooled."

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