Old legal opinion rises again
A number of Home School Legal Defense Association member families reported receiving a rather intimidating letter from the Rialto Unified School District. The letter came from the director of child welfare and attendance and indicated that the families were being contacted because they had filed a private school affidavit with an enrollment of less than six students-the low enrollment number signaled the district that it is a home school.
In the letter, the director reiterated the California Department of Education legal opinion that has been circulating for the last several years, making it sound as though home schooling under the private school law is illegal:
If your school is conducting a home schooling program in which children are instructed exclusively at home by non-credentialed persons . . . your program is not in compliance with the requirements of the compulsory school attendance laws of California.
Private schools in California are not required to have credentialed teachers. Teachers are required to be "capable of teaching." Studies of home schooled students' standardized test scores, clearly show that non-credentialed parents are capable of providing their children with an excellent education. The letter also inaccurately indicated that the home schooled student would have difficulty getting into high school and college. Private home schoolers can teach their children through grade 12, and many colleges enthusiastically welcome home school graduates.
On the legislative front, Assembly Bill 634 continues to be of concern. This bill would lower the compulsory attendance age from 6 to 5 years of age. HSLDA opposes this bill because it interferes with parents' fundamental right to direct the education of their children. It would force children into formal schooling at age 5, which many parents consider too young.
We are working in conjunction with Roy Hanson and Jim Davis of Family Protection Ministries, and Christian Home Educators Association of California to defeat this bill, or any other bill, that would require children to attend school at 5 years of age.
Family Protection Ministries (FPM) is a not a membership organization like HSLDA and must depend upon the gifts of its supporters to survive. Their support has dropped recently, as has that of other ministries. It is essential to the continued freedom of home schoolers in California that we all support FPM. They are leading on the front lines in the battle for our freedoms in the California legislature. From HSLDA's personal experience in teamwork with them, we know that they spot and work very effectively with legislation at a level that no one else does. Please send a large check to Family Protection Ministries, P.O. Box 730, Lincoln, CA 95648-0730. If you can support FPM at $40 or more per calendar year you will receive their Legal-Legislative Update newsletter.
It is critical that when you receive an e-mail alert asking you to make a call or write a letter on a particular bill, that you do so as soon as possible. The political makeup of the California legislature makes it tremendously challenging to protect our home school freedoms. However, if we are able to generate thousands of calls and letters, the legislators do listen.
Every phone call and letter makes a difference. Thank you for choosing to get involved, to stand with us for family and freedom in California. - J. Michael Smith