Parents “do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children.”
So wrote a California judge in a case that has ominous potential for the estimated one million-plus American families who have opted out of the public education monopoly and choose to educate their children at home.
Although the ruling is being appealed to the California Supreme Court, as it now stands, the 166,000 California children who are home schooled are truant, and their parents are criminals. Welcome, as the Wall Street Journal editorialized, to a “strange new chapter” in the “annals of judicial imperialism.”
No Teaching Credentials? No Home Schooling.
For background, you should know that although California’s compulsory education law requires that all children between the ages of six and 18 attend a full-time day school, the state law also contains provisions for parents to legally teach their children at home. Under these provisions, homeschooling by unlicensed moms and dads has flourished in California, as it has across the nation.
But all this began to change when the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services recently investigated a claim of abuse by a homeschooled child. Lawyers representing the child invoked the California compulsory education statute to send the child to a public school and a judge eventually agreed, ruling that homeschooling by an unlicensed parent teacher is illegal. Thus, writes the Journal, “a single case of parental abuse is being used to promote the registration of all parents who crack a book for their kids.”
The long and short of it: A California court has ruled that if you haven’t spent four years attending a teaching college and getting the proper licenses from the state, you can’t homeschool your children.
Another Case of a Special Interest Using the Courts to Do What It Can’t at the Voting Booth
The merits of homeschooling speak for themselves. Homeschooled children dominate academic competitions and get superior scores on standardized tests. They excel at all the things compulsory education laws are meant to promote, such as school attendance, academics and civic education.
But the California homeschooling decision is important in another respect — even those of us who don’t homeschool our kids should be outraged and concerned.
The decision represents yet another case of a special interest — in this case, the education unions and bureaucracy — using the courts to get what they can’t get through the popular vote.
This is yet another example of judicial supremacy: Rule by an out-of-control judiciary rather than the will of the people. It joins court rulings such as the removal of “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance on a long list of usurpations of the freedom and self-determination of the American people.
What You Can Do About It
The good news is that citizen activism can be a powerful tool in fighting judicial supremacy.
A good example is the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a group fighting for the rights of homeschooling parents in California and states across the nation.
They initiated a petition drive in the wake of the California decision that attracted a quarter of a million signatures in 10 days. The effort was so successful that they’ve stopped gathering signatures. But you can still learn more and help their cause by going to HSLDA.org.
And don’t stop there. Homeschool regulations are overwhelmingly developed at the state-government level. Call or write your state representatives and let them know that this is one case of judicial supremacy that will not stand.
Alexander Leads Fight to Protect English in the Workplace
For months now, I’ve been telling you about the legal harassment by the United States government of charities and small businesses that ask that their employees speak English on the job.
It all began when a Salvation Army thrift store in Massachusetts put two of its employees on notice that they must learn to speak English when they were at work. But after six years, when they had failed to do so, they were let go.
That’s when the government lawyers got involved.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the Salvation Army, claiming it had discriminated against the fired employees by requiring them to speak English at work.
And the Salvation Army is not alone in facing harassment for promoting English. The number of these kinds of discrimination cases filed with the government has quadrupled since 1996.
‘The Federal Government Ought to Be on the Side of Valuing Our Common Language, Not Devaluing It’
But now, congratulations to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) are in order. His amendment to stop the government persecution of small businesses who ask their employees to speak English on the job was approved by the Senate by a vote of 54 to 44.
But the Alexander bill doesn’t punish people for speaking other languages, it supports people learning English. It neatly takes the money the EEOC uses to file lawsuits against English-only workplaces and puts it into the Department of Education grant program to teach English and civics to immigrants.
Sen. Alexander describes the motivating idea behind his bill best when he says, “Several things unite us as Americans — our common history, the principles in our founding documents, and our common language — and the federal government ought to be consistently on the side of valuing that common language and not on the side of devaluing it.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: ‘Another Momentous Session’
Jindal brought the majority Democratic Louisiana legislature into special session and passed an ambitious ethics reform agenda, taking Louisiana from the ranks of the states with the worst ethics standards to ranks of the states with the best.
The achievement was historic. But Bobby Jindal was just getting started.
Last week, he completed yet another special session of the legislature — and it turned out to be what the New Orleans Times Picayune called “Another Momentous Session.”
This time, Jindal took on the task of making Louisiana friendlier to business and investment by lowering business taxes and investing in long-term infrastructure.
Like I said before, Bobby Jindal was an agent of change before “change” became a cliché. He’s one to watch for all of us who believe in the endless possibilities of America when government is accountable, entrepreneurship is rewarded, creativity is encouraged and real achievement matters.
That’s Bobby Jindal’s America, and that’s real change.
P.S. — Last Thursday, I wrote in a special edition of “Winning the Future” that Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama’s speech last week in Philadelphia was an invitation to a national dialogue on how to help every American pursue happiness, an invitation that conservatives should accept. Please join me this Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute when I describe how the cost of bad government has caused such ruin and broken lives in cities like Detroit and how the challenge of helping the poor to create prosperity with their fellow Americans won’t be solved with the attitudes, policies and institutions of the left, most of which have been a disaster for so many, especially children. I will also outline some of the solutions that will be required so the poor and the powerless in America can have a new birth of freedom — based upon principles, policies, and institutions that actually work. My talk will begin at 12:30 pm at AEI in the Wohlstetter Conference Center.
P.P.S. — I want to share with you a letter from a reader in North Carolina that shows in a very gratifying way how Real Change is effecting the way citizens view their government and its responsibilities. The following is a recent letter to the editor of the Raleigh News and Observer:
Recent headlines support the premise of Newt Gingrich‘s current best seller Real Change: Government (for which we pay royally) is broken. Two stories, superimposed upon years of state government scandals, are illustrative.
Last month, we learned that state government paid companies that employ high school graduates $61 an hour to take mental health “clients” to shopping malls. While the governor ducked responsibility and his Department of Health and Human Services secretary went over the hill, shady entrepreneurs recruited door-to-door and made millions.
Now we find that one of the suspects in the killing of a UNC student is a multiple felon, allowed to remain on the street by a broken justice system.
This is outrageous, and we have a right to be darned angry.
It’s an election year, and the same shopworn names are in the news as the entrenched politicos jockey for position. Gingrich’s book should be required reading for everyone running for state office. Then each candidate should be made to answer this question: Do you agree that government is broken, and if so, what would you do to fix it?
We deserve nothing less.
Fred F. Holt, M.D. Raleigh