“Parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children”

This is the quote of Justice H. Walter Croskey of the 2nd District of Appeals in California.

In our short tenure in California we saw some of the dark sides of homeschooling. While I know there are fantastic parents who do an excellent job homeschooling their children I have also seen first hand the other side. What we saw was borderline criminal neglect. Link


We had students whose parents claimed religious reasons to justify pulling their kids out of private Christian or public school to then fall helplessly behind their peers. This wasn’t a single case, it was the norm. In our small town most of the homeschooling parents were months behind on their work… some were years behind with no hope of catching up on work to get to grade level work. And there was nothing anyone could do about it. Most of their schooling ended with them getting a GED. (Better than nothing) It was the wild west and all parents said, “It’s my right!” I’m just not sure parents should have the right to allow their children to be undereducated.

When something as important as education is not regulated, not checked, and no system is put in place to allow the state to make certain children are learning… the kids will suffer for a parental right.

Here’s my hope for the situation in California and the future of homeschooling

  • An organization overseen by the State Board of Education would be created to credential parents who wished to home school their elementary-aged children. I believe there should either be an educational requirement (Associate degree or higher) to qualify. Though allowing a parent to take a test to qualify sounds reasonable as well. If that parent were approved, they could then opt their child out of the school system legally at any time. Failure to secure the credential prior to removing the child would be applicable to truancy laws.
  • Credentialed parents of elementary-aged children who opt out should have access to the full amount of funds to educate their child from the State. Rather than giving them a check though… a simple system could be put in place allowing those parents to “purchase” supplies, materials, etc through their local district. In other words, they would be allowed to purchase materials and other things needed through the districts channels assuring that they got good curriculum. (If you’ve never seen some of the religious homeschooling books, you may be appalled at what you see.) Religious educational textbooks would be allowed, of course, just not paid for by the State unless somehow approved. It seems a committee of credentialed parents could recommend high quality texts to receive permission to get purchased through the schools.
  • Students in homeschooling should be required to take the same state assessment tests as their peers, with their peers. If the child fails the parent loses their credential. If the child fails to take the test the parent loses the credential. If they succeed than they can continue. The important of the same testing is invaluable both to the local district, the State Board of Education, and the parent. By using the same measurement tool at the same time and the same environment, you can compare scores to see how well the child is being educated. Private schools have used different tests for years to make sure that parents cannot compare results “apples to apples.” Right now, there is no conclusive way to measure the effectiveness of home school children. There is anecdotal evidence but not a measurable that we can all agree upon.
  • A system should be created to ensure secondary education is completed by credentialed teachers. As it stands now, this seems to be the biggest weakness in the home school movement. They simply cannot argue that their child can receive an equal education they could receive from their local school district at the secondary level. It’s one thing to teach elementary math… it’s another thing to teach Calculus or Botany or Japanese or English or Electronics at the same level as a teacher with a Masters in his/her field. (Online or video classes… meh, not as good as the real thing.) Perhaps this system would allow for parents to get credentialed in a secondary subject and homeschooling parents could create their own clusters of home schoolers to get a full education from credentialed parents? A co-op for secondary education of home school students seems more legitimate than sticking a home school student in front of a computer for distance learning.
  • If the child completes the requirements for graduation, they should receive a State high school diploma. Right now, the GED is about as close as most home school graduates get. That’s not fair to them either. I think that if you create a system and the family obeys the rules… they should be allowed the same degree as their peers.
  • This sounds a lot like charter schools. Maybe this fits in that system somehow?

In the past I’ve always come across as anti-homeschool. I still don’t agree that it is the best option. I feel the best option for all children is the public school system. (In 2004, I wrote numerous rants and comments and gotten interesting feedback, today’s post represents where I am right now in response to the situation in California… looking for a reasonable solution.) While I am biased towards public school education since I feel I received an excellent education I recognize that not everyone has had the same experience. While I feel a Christian parents place is in the public arena I recognize that this is my own opinion and it differs from some people who are close to me. I think it’s OK to have differing opinions here. The point is finding a solution!

I do think there is room within “legitimate education” for homeschooling. However, it is time we all agree to do so in a regulated way that ensures the next generation of home schooled students gets the best education available to them.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

5 comments

  1. I have seen some horrendous examples of homeschooling.

    I have seen some excellent examples of homeschooling.

    I have seen some really good …

    I will forever be grateful that in Oklahoma, it is a constitutional right to homeschool … and that my son tells his classmates, the reason he knows how to learn is because he was homeschooled through elementary/junior high.

    When students gawk at his 31 on the ACT he grins and says “yeah, homeschooling” or “My mom gave me that”

    With our youngest, who, because of learning difficulties, we chose not to … except for the 5 months that it became such a severe issue with the district we were moving out of … we’d wished we had, when in homeschooling we took him 4 reading grade levels! (and yet, I’d not homeschooled him because I was afraid I’d not be able to teach him to read!!!)

    Not every family can or should homeschool …however, every family can, and should be allowed to make that decision. BUT…they should take into that equation …EACH child …and their (parents) temperment … it is not right for every family ..OR for every child with in every family.

  2. Good thoughts PK. I agree that there are good and bad homeschool situation. And I fully agree that the decision should be per child. It’s not for everyone… that’s certain. My hope is that for parents who chose homeschooling… that somehow we ensure that those children are receiving a good education. Right now there simply isn’t a great way to know if a child falls through the cracks.

  3. Adam you said….

    “While I feel a Christian parents place is in the public arena I recognize that this is my own opinion and it differs from some people who are close to me.”

    And I would say that that is not just your own opinion, but I believe it is a biblical stand point. God never told us to withdraw from the public arena, but to put ourselves out there.

    I have no problems with people who choose to homeschool, because they feel their child can receive a better education at home. I do have a problem with Christians who pull their children out of public school to protect them from the worldly influences. I just don’t see that in the Bible.

    BTW, excellent thoughts! I like your ideas for regulating homeschooling.

  4. Todd, I don’t disagree with your feelings. I just want to make sure that I respect those with differing opinions. If there are people who believe that they are called to separate from the world… I’d be interested to hear their position before judging it.

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