Parents First Duty is to Teach

“The most important teaching is in the home, regardless of where kids are schooled.” – Homeschool Parent

My column on the California state appellate court ruling that says parents that homeschool their children must have teaching credentials prompted one parent to respond eloquently, pointing out that homeschooling has more positives than most people realize.

Here is his comment in its entirety:

That court decision is wrong. I hope and pray it is overturned quickly.

PARENTS have the PRIMARY responsibility to teach their kids. It’s not just a constitutional right. It’s also a God-given duty. The most important teaching is in the home, regardless of where kids are schooled. Any time people discuss problems in public schools or with gangs, etc, they point out that the solutions start at home, that parents can’t leave parenting to the schools.

The only difference with homeschool families is that they choose to teach the formal education as well. The results are indisputably positive. Homeschoolers as a group score WAY above the averages on all testing. Typical homeschooled kids are also incredibly well-rounded and involved in the community. Because they’re homeschooled, the student-teacher ratio is very low, so schooling goes faster. The many homeschoolers I know use the extra time to focus on music, sports, community involvement and other valuable extra-curricular activities.

Like many homeschool families, my wife and I have no teaching credentials. But, our kids excel. Their test scores are extremely high. They are accomplished writers, actors, singers and pianists. They are very talented athletes who are often champions & MVPs. Most importantly, they’re delightful to be around. Not the least bit perfect, but delightful!

Our kids are also well-socialized. There’s a silly myth that “socialization” is a major problem with homeschooling. That’s false. Homeschoolers are typically very well socialized. They’re often mature, wonderful to be around and relatively well-behaved. They’re socialized with people of all ages, not just their age-group peers. Homeschooled kids

We’re not credentialed, but my wife and I are educated. I’m a Harvard graduate and she’s a (retired) missile scientist. Despite our lack of teaching credentials, we’re qualified to teach our kids. The “proof is in the pudding”. No one can dispute the results. This is true for most homeschool students-the results speak for themselves.

But, what makes us qualified to teach our kids is not our education. It’s that we’re the parents, the people God trusted these kids to. We’re their most enthusiastic advocates, their most committed supporters, the ones who give our very lives for them. Surprisingly, the education level of the parents does NOT make a big difference in homeschooler test scores. Neither does having a teaching credential. Homeschooled kids, on average, perform WAY above average in every measurable category, regardless of the education level or credentials of their parents.

This does NOT in any way detract from credentialed teachers. My sister and one of my brothers and my mom are outstanding credentialed teachers who’ve impacted many kids’ lives. It’s just to point out that homeschooling is typically very successful. It’s partly because of the low student-teacher ratio. I know my sister and brother would be thrilled to have a student-teacher ratio of 4 to 1 (or 1 to 1, or however many kids are in a given family). Public school teachers do an incredible job, since they have to do it with 20 to 40 kids in a class, not 1 to 6 kids.

Just last night, a friend (who doesn’t homeschool) told me of calling a home in another state about a rental. She said a 14 year old answered. She said that the 14 year old was so polite and pleasant and well-spoken, she guessed that she was homeschooled. She later learned she was right. In other words, my friend’s first thought in encountering a respectful, articulate teenager was to wonder if the teenager was homeschooled. The results of homeschooling are fantastic.

SURE, there are exceptions. Same with all schools. Plus, “homeschooling” gets saddled with some undeserved bad examples. For example, it’s not uncommon that when a parent knows their kid is about to be expelled from school, they avoid it by pulling the kid from school and declaring they’ve “decided to homeschool”. I don’t know if that’s the case with the Los Angeles lawsuit-I don’t know those facts and I don’t mean to imply anything. But, it’s the extreme cases and wackos that make a good news story. Recognizing this, we must not “throw out the baby with the bathwater”. If there are bad parents doing bad things to kids, the state should protect those kids-we all should! But, don’t do it by trying to ban homeschooling, one of the most productive means of schooling that exists.

Even with the exceptions, those who claim to “homeschool” when conventional school isn’t working for their kid, often homeschooling ends up working well. There are many homeschool families whose kids weren’t initially successful in public school. They may have initially homeschooled as a last resort, only to be surprised by the incredible results from their homeschooling. Once again, because of the low student-teacher ratio, and because it’s their own kids.

People homeschool for many other reasons too. And, those reasons change. My family started for one set of reasons (and BOY was I a skeptic!). Now, we continue for another set of reasons. We homeschool today because we just LOVE it. We love all the unpressured time together as a family. We love watching all our kids grow and learn and bloom. We love teaching them about life, and love, and God, and nature, as well as school subjects and sports. We wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Don’t misunderstand. Homeschooling is NOT easy. Anyone who has coached their own kids can tell you that. I’ve coached 30+ youth sports teams. Of all of those players, the hardest work was often coaching my own kids. That’s a normal dynamic. Homeschooling means doing that 24-7. It’s not for everyone. It’s a major lifestyle choice that impacts your finances and every area of your life. But, it’s worth it!

On top of all this, homeschooling saves the State of California a TON of money. Someone stated today that there are 166,000 kids being homeschooled in California. I suspect it’s a lot more than that. But, even at 166,000, that’s 166,000 kids whose parents are paying taxes, but the State of California is not having to pay to educate those kids. The Oakland Tribune stated (12/1/06, “O’Connell searches for the true cost of education”) that CA spends $7,746 per student per year. That’s $1,285,836,000, plus the cost of building more schools to fit the additional 166,000 students. Not to mention, that if all those students were suddenly put into public schools, the already difficult student-teacher ratios would get worse!

Homeschooling clearly works. It’s good for the students, it’s good for the familes, it’s good for society, and it saves money for the state and for all non-homeschooling families. The California Supreme Court should de-publish and overturn this one bad decision. The California Legislature should pass a law confirming the current policy of the California Department of Education:

The California Department of Education currently allows home schooling as long as parents file paperwork with the state establishing themselves as small private schools, hire credentialed tutors or enroll their children in independent study programs run by charter or private schools or public school districts while still teaching at home (“Ruling seen as a threat to many home-schooling families”, Los Angeles Times 3/6/08).

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

RELATED: California Schools: A Tough Nut To Crack

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7 thoughts on “Parents First Duty is to Teach

  1. Judge Creates New California Law Forbidding Homeschooling

    By: Mimi Rothschild

    Not since the time of Hitler’s regime with consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, Wolfgang Drautz, have we seen such a gross assumption of power and abuse of that assumed power as what appears to be happening with the California court ruling that says that homeschooling is illegal., Without even citing the statutes or constitutional principal on which this opinion is supposedly based, Justice H. Walter Croskey wrote in a February 28th opinion for the 2nd District Court of Appeals, “Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.”

    Judge Croskey’s ruling states “keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children’s lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents’ ‘cloistered’ setting.”

    Many people believe that sending children to school deprives them of situations in which they can interact with a far broader spectrum of people than simply those with whom they happen to share a birth year.

    Many people believe that the very people in the school who are charged with the responsibility of helping a child if something is amiss int heir lives are themselves not trustworthy or credible and that some children need to be protected from them.

    Many people beliebe that children develop better when not limited to the cloistered government school setting all day, every day for 13 years and that they develop better when afforded the opportunity to learn in and through the entire world.

    The immediate ramifications of this shocking ruling could subject the parents of 166,000 students throughout the state of California to face the state Supreme Court for criminal sanctions. This Judge’s opinion and his abuse and overreach of his power could be a slippery slope for home educators and all those that believe in the parent’s right to raise their children according to their own convictions.

    In addition to the obvious concerns that have rippled throughout the homeschooling community nationwide such as the erosion of parental rights and educational freedoms, my concern today is: At what point did our government change the Job Description of judges? Respectifully, is it within Judge Croskey’s power to create law. Isn’t the power to create laws is a responsibility given to the people by the United States government through the legislators that we elect? What statute or constitutional principal is Judge Closkey basing his interpretation that dictates that children cannot be educated by their parents unless the parent has a teaching certificate?

    Is Judge Closkey creating a new law that could affect the lives of up to 2 million home educators in this country? Is Judge Closkey overstepping the carefully defined boundaries of his duties? I understand that there are concerned California citizens calling for Judge Closkey’s resignation.

    Do you think that Judge Closkey’s personal personal prejudice against the concept of home education has blinded his ability to properly perform his role as an impartial adjudicator of the existing laws.

    God blessed me with my children. He sent them to me and entrusts me to direct their care and education. He did not Cc or Bcc the judicial system on how I am raising them. He did not send them with a book, an amendment or a set of rules that I had to obey to produce a system’d product, to a system that I never believed in! And I know He did not send them to me so a system could hold them hostage from His presence and Truths for eight hours a day, five days a week, a hundred and eighty days a year; unable to even utter His name without a judicial mandate.

    The Lord made me a parent with the right to choose where and how my child will be educated. While we are called as Christians to obey the laws of the land, there is nothing that I can see within the constitution that mandates that a California judge’s opinion on what is best for children become the law for everyone. While Judge Croskey is entitled to express his opinion and to choose how he educates his children (if God entrusts him with them), it is not within his job description to dictate how to educate mine. Unless there is a proven violation of a child’s health and safety as described in the laws preventing child neglect and abuse, this Judge is misguided in forcing parents to choose government school.

    The reasons I believe that this Court’s ruling should be vigorously opposed and appealed are:

    1. There is absolutely NOTHING in the constitution that dictates how I raise/educate my child regarding any aspect of their child rearing,
    2. Personal and family privacy is protected, including the right to privacy about the decisions and rationale for how I raise my child.
    3. Freedom to worship is protected, including the right to guide my child’s religious growth. Few dispute that government schools often have a religious agenda, known as secular humanism, which contradicts the Biblical perspective.
    4. God gave the child to me to raise, not the state
    5. The state has failed in its mission to educate children (the United States ranks lowest of most countries on testing)
    6. One judge’s biases and misinformed opinions cannot create law.
    7. Judge are to uphold only the laws that the legislators (representatives of the PEOPLE) pass.

    We will continue to follow this case, and the new law that many fear Judge H. Walter Croskey has created as this case unfolds in appeals and eventually reaches the Supreme Court. This is obviously an issue near and dear to each of us, so share your thoughts by e-mailing me directly at Mimi@LearningbyGrace.org or reply to this posting.

    Evil flourishes when good people do nothing. Albert Einstein

  2. First of all, I would like to say that I fully support the ruling. Without proper credentials, parents should only play a supporting role in their kids’ education. Why? Some parents do not have sufficient time away from work to help their kids. Many do not even have a college degree. There are also other problems, some of which you have mentioned here.

    However, the law should make it easier for you and your wife to get the proper credential. I believe that any parent with a college degree & sufficient time away from work should receive automatic teaching credential for home schooling(only).

  3. @Larry…Homeschooling is not illegal in California. Also, I disagree, Christianity is not about fearmongering. True, the truth can sometimes be a scary thing, but often it is better to talk about the truth rather than worry too much about being offensive.

    I went to the site and have no idea what the video or the message is supposed to point out.

  4. I’ll assume homeschooled children must pass the same academic requirements of the public schools. If they excel in these subjects, what’s the problem?

    With all the publicity about shootings, metal detectors, acceptance/teaching of Islamic religion and culture while any mention of Christianity is banned, what better reasons do parents need to shun these schools?

    Not only do homeschoolers pay taxes for schools they don’t use; so do those who send their children to parochial schools and any other private school. Yet I say, the more the better.

    The undeserved monopoly the NEA has used to control the education system needs to be destroyed.

  5. Obviously California must be trying to prevent christians from teaching children the correct curriculum and life. I think that this type of judicial act is a complete farce and Governor Schwarzenegger should take steps to abolish this law.

  6. Pingback: Justice Croskey Gets Schooled « TheScroogeReport

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