Monday, April 23 , 2018, 1:01 pm | Mostly Cloudy 60º


Homeschool Parents Line Up Firmly Behind Right to Teach

Prior to court's reversal, two homeschooling moms said they would do whatever was necessary to comply with restrictions and continue to teach.

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Homeschool mom Patty Palmer says all mothers are homeschoolers at heart since they all have taught their children to walk, talk and, for some, even to read. (Drew Teel photo)

[Editor’s note: In a major turnabout, the state Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles on Friday reversed its Feb. 28 ruling that could have reclassified most homeschooled children as truants. Earlier, the three-judge panel received nationwide attention and criticism when it ruled that parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children unless the parents have teaching credentials. Noozhawk seventh-grade intern Drew Teel reported the following story prior to Friday’s ruling.]

Earlier this year, a state appeals court declared that homeschooling is not legal in California. The ruling by the three-judge panel set off a nationwide discussion of the legality of homeschooling and whether certain restrictions should apply. Santa Barbara’s tight-knit homeschooling community had its own discussion.

Mia McElwee, a new homeschooling mom, believes that homeschooling should stay legal.

“According to the HSLDA (Homeschooling Legal Defense Association), by the eighth grade the average homeschooled student performs four grade levels above the national average,” she said. “One family and one ruling should not change a system that has been working for many years.”

If homeschooling were illegal, she said she would “move to another state where it was legal. Or form a school. That is how one of the private Christian schools here in town was started. It was a group of homeschool families.”

Patty Palmer firmly stands in the belief that parents should have the right to choose their kids’ education and that homeschooling should stay legal. She says that all mothers are homeschoolers at heart since they all have taught their children to walk, talk and, for some, even to read. She states that for certain kids homeschooling might be better than public school, or parents who have children with medical problems should have choices for their schooling.

When McElwee shared her views on possible homeschooling restrictions, she said, “It would depend on the restrictions. If it would be that I had to be a credentialed teacher I would find a legal way to work that out. I would find a credentialed person to tutor my children for the hours required by the state. If I needed to earn my teacher’s credential I would do that if I had to.”

“Research has shown that it is not special training that produces excellent educational results,” she added. “It is hard work and parents who know their children.”

Palmer said that “policies or benchmarks,” as she liked calling them, should exist since she is afraid that “not everyone in homeschool has the best intentions.” Testing of homeschoolers should be required since she fears that a family might call themselves homeschoolers but may be trying to slip under the radar without doing any school. Also, she voiced the opinion that teaching credentials should be required to teach homeschoolers in seventh grade and higher.

McElwee explained that she joined a local homeschooling group, the Santa Barbara Christian Homesteaders Inc., “so that our family would be plugged into a group of homeschool families. For Josh, Jeremiah and Molly — so that they would have field trips, friends and classes to participate in when they appealed to us. For me — as a mother and teacher for support and encouragement. To talk to other moms and get ideas.”

She added, “I have not been too concerned until the recent upholding of the current ruling. But I do not lose sleep over it. I feel that God will provide homeschooling for our family. As a Christian, though, we must not be lazy about what God has called us to do. We must be active in fighting for what we believe in and support the organizations that fight the battle for us in the government system for us.”

Noozhawk intern Drew Teel will be a homeschool seventh-grader in the fall.

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