By Anita Doberman: CNJ Columnist
I had never heard of home schooling before moving to the U.S. In Italy there is no such right. The state decides how, where and what children need to learn. School programs are the same for the whole country.
I believe that home schooling is a great alternative for parents. I admit that when I first learned about it, I was a bit hesitant. It seemed strange, but over time, I became familiar with this concept, and learned a lot from friends. I always assumed there was some legal support for home schooling, but in light of a recent California decision, this is clearly not the case.
Justice H. Walter Croskey for the 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that, “Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children,” and unless they hold teaching credentials, they cannot home school their children. Parents who continue to home school, said the judge, could be subject to criminal prosecution.
This ruling affects a lot of people: the Pacific Justice Institute estimates that there are more than 166,000 home schooled students in California alone.
The case itself isn’t a simple matter. It involves a child claiming to be abused by his parents and requesting to go back to public school. California law isn’t clear on the role of home schooling. The courts have largely left it to the school districts to decide how to handle home schoolers. Furthermore, the furor that erupted isn’t likely to cause any immediate changes for home schoolers.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger quickly made a statement of support for home schoolers, and California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said no one would be forced back into public schools.
But the fact that a blanket statement with such far-reaching implications was made in the first place doesn’t seem to be very