Using the Turpins as an excuse, California legislative busybodies are looking to punish homeschooling families.
It was shocking to learn in January that Californians David and Louise Turpin had imprisoned their thirteen children for years in the most disgusting and degrading ways. Fortunately, one of the girls escaped from the home in Perris, and contacted police whose investigation discovered 13 kids who had been shackled, beaten, strangled, fed occasionally and allowed to bathe once a year.
So our “Never let a good crisis go to waste” California State Assembly pounced on the horrific situation, leading lawmakers to come up with two bills currently going through the legislative meat grinder. Both would place unnecessary and onerous restrictions on homeschooling families. The Turpins, you see, homeschooled their kids.
As things stand now, homeschool families in California must file an annual affidavit under penalty of perjury that includes information such as the number of students, grades taught, type of school, and names of involved adults. But this is obviously way too laissez-faire for the meddlers in our legislature.
AB 2756 (Jose Medina, D-Riverside) would single out homeschoolers for intrusive data collection, which is not justified and unnecessarily targets them. A more extreme part of the bill, which would have required home educators to be subjected to yearly fire marshal visits, has been deleted.
More ominous is AB 2926, (Susan Eggman, D-Stockton), a bill that would establish an advisory committee whose purpose is to make recommendations to the state board of education “on the appropriateness and feasibility” of imposing additional requirements on a home school. They would include, but are not limited to, health and safety inspections, specific curriculum standards, and certification or credentialing of teachers.
The latter bill, especially the credentialing angle, has the control freaks (notably the teachers unions) licking their chops. While the California Teachers Association has not taken an official position on either bill to date, CTA spokeswoman Claudia Briggs has stated, “Teachers of home instruction programs should meet California certification requirements. Additionally, there are certain guidelines educators believe should be followed… Permission granted by the local governing board shall be required annually.”
This is hardly the first time that homeschooling families have been threatened by the education establishment. Despite the fact that kids educated by their parents outperform traditional public school students, the teachers unions and other wild-eyed statists have been gunning for the homeschoolers for years. In March, 2008, a California state appellate court ruled that parents who lack teaching credentials could not educate their children at home. Needless to say, this decision sent waves of angst through California’s homeschooling families, while delighting the teachers unions. United Teachers of Los Angeles president A.J. Duffy asserted, “What’s best for a child is to be taught by a credentialed teacher.” Lloyd Porter, California Teachers Association board member chimed in, “We’re happy. We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting.”
Sadly for the unionistas, however, sanity prevailed a few months later. In August, 2008, a state appellate court ruled that parents may indeed legally homeschool their kids in California even if they lack a teaching credential. No matter, CTA maintains that allowing parents to homeschool their children without a state-issued stamp of approval results in “educational anarchy.”
Additionally, the National Education Association regularly passes resolutions that trash homeschooling families. In 2015, Resolution B-83 (the same as 2011’s B-82, 2008’s B-75, etc.) in part reads, “The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience… Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.”
Again, the excuse for all the new regulatory fervor is the horrific abuse heaped upon the Turpin children. But as American Greatness’ Ben Boychuk points out, blaming home schooling for the Perris child torturers “is like blaming trench coats for Columbine.” And in fact, because the Colorado killers wore trench coats when they shot and killed 12 students and a teacher in 1999, that’s just what many overreaching school districts did.
The Perris horrors have absolutely nothing to do with homeschooling. Parents who send their kids to traditional public schools also beat and torture their kids. But just as the teachers unions and their progressive brethren found the NRA to be an easy target after the Parkland shootings, they are now trying to demonize homeschooling families.
The tradition of homeschooling one’s children, which goes back to the beginning of time, is now under attack by those with a very specific agenda. And that agenda is one that really does not have children’s best interests at heart.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.