The Los Angeles Times isn't sure where the state law stands. "If no such right [to homeschool] exists, as a court ruled, the Legislature should make it an option," the newspaper's editorial board said. The editorial wondered why parents who teach one or two children at home need credentials, while private-school teachers in classes full of kids don't.
The danger in having the legislature clarify the law is that the legislature is controlled by politicians sympathetic to the teachers' union, which despises homeschooling. "[H]ome-schoolers fear that any attempt to protect home-schooling would end up outlawing it," writes Orange County Register columnist Steven Greenhut.
It reminds me of what New York Judge Gideon Tucker said in the Nineteenth Century, "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session."
This particular case is muddied by suspicions of child abuse, but as the Times said, the court improperly "used a single example of possible child abuse to throw the book at tens of thousands of home schoolers."
I think the state court is looking at the state Constitution upside down. The court finds no constitutional right to homeschool one's children. But in a free country, people are free to do anything not expressly prohibited by law. If the Constitution is silent about homeschooling, then the right is reserved to the people. That's how the Framers of the U.S. Constitution said things are supposed to work.
Last week, the appellate court surprised everyone by agreeing to rehear the case. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the judges "hinted at a re-evaluation of its entire Feb. 28 ruling by inviting written arguments from state and local education officials and teachers' unions."
On top of that, state Schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell says he thinks homeschooling is legal and favors choice in education.
That's reasonable news. But why is education the business of government? It's taken for granted that the state is every child's ultimate parent, but there's no justification for that in a free society. Parents may not be perfect -- some are pretty bad -- but a cold, faceless bureaucracy is no better.
Let's hope the court gets it right in June.
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