Category archives: Education

More on the California Homeschooling Decision

by Chris Gacek

March 11, 2008

A great deal has happened since my Friday posting on the California home school decision — In re Rachel L. First, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a press release on Friday striking out at the court decision:

Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide whats best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their childrens education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts dont protect parents rights then, as elected officials, we will.”

This opens the possibility that political action, in addition to legal appeals, may lie ahead. However, proponents of home schooling in California are wary of a legislative option because a new law might codify a set of parent-school relationships that are less friendly than those in place before the court decision. Given the liberal composition of the California legislature, that is a justifiable concern.

Second, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has taken a step to nullify the decision. While the Rachel L. family and its California counsel plan to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court, HSLDA has also posted a petition online collecting the signatures of those who would like the Court to “depublish” the opinion. HSLDA plans to formally ask the Court to depublish the Rachel L. opinion which would render it unusable “by other California courts” and eliminate the decision as a threat to other homeschoolers. By gathering signatures, HSLDA would like to demonstrate to the Court “that many other people, both in California and across the country, care deeply about homeschool freedom in California.” Depublishing would be a simple way to alleviate this crisis.

Third, Eugene Volokh, a libertarian/conservative UCLA law professor and blogger wrote about the home schooling case on March 6th — as edited by Alliance Defense Fund:

Its pretty well-settled that the parental rights cases — such as Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) — dont secure a right to home-school … .

Religious homeschooling is a different matter. Wisconsin v. Yoder held that the Amish could pull children out of school at age 14, and then vocationally train the children at home, notwithstanding a compulsory education law that generally required school attendance until 16. And Yoder survives the Courts decision in Employment Division v. Smith (which mostly holds that the Free Exercise Clause doesnt require religious exemptions from generally applicable laws, but which expressly preserves such claims in parental rights cases like Yoder).

What appears to be the crucial California case, People v. Turner (1953), has some difficult language for the proposition that there is a constitutional right to homeschool:

…, we have been unable to find a single case in which it has been held that so-called compulsory attendance statutes are rendered unconstitutional and void merely by reason of a failure to recognize home instruction as an alternative to attendance in the public schools.

Well, only one thing is certain — we are destined to hear a great deal more about this case and the related legal arguments. A great deal has changed in California since 1953, and the Court would be wise to accommodate the educational arrangements that now exist for something like 200,000 students.

California Decision Highlights Judicial Trend against Parental Rights in Education

by Chris Gacek

March 7, 2008

On February 28, 2006, a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal handed down a ruling that may threaten the continued viability of home school arrangements in California. In this case, In re Rachel L., a lower court decision holding that parents have a constitutional right to home school their children was reversed. The appellate court held that parents do not have such rights. Furthermore, the decision appears to have rendered the vast majority of California home schooling arrangements violative of state law.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California law does not address home schooling in its statutes unlike thirty states that do. Apparently, the California Department of Education and local school districts have had a somewhat relaxed approach to home schooling. This has allowed the number of home schoolers to grow considerably. Estimates are that 166,000 children in California are taught at home, so the impact of this decision will be significant.

This case and two others of recent vintage, Fields v. Palmdale School District (U.S. 9th Cir. 2005) and Parker v. Hurley (U.S. 1st Cir. 2008), remind us of the fact that powerful elements within our society believe that parents have few, if any, rights over the educational content of their children. Once the state has spoken parents have to fall in line. In Palmdale, the Ninth Circuit used a dispute over psychological surveys that included questions about sex to assert that parents have no constitutional right … to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise…. (The parents were not told about the sex-related questions when their consent for participation was sought by the school.)

In Parker, a Christian parent objected to his young child being given educational materials promoting homosexual parenting and marriage. Here again, the appellate court affirmed the district courts ruling which stated that the constitutional right of parents to raise their children does not include the right to restrict what a public school may teach their children.

At bottom, the current case in California (Rachel L.), Palmdale, and Parker indicate that parents, pro-family groups, and friendly politicians will have to fight for the right to protect their children. They will need to aggressively pursue legislatively corrections. That may be possible in California regarding the status of home schooling, but it will not always be possible. Barring a legislative fix, it becomes clear how important it is to have judges on the bench who understand that the rights of parents are not derived from the state. Rather, parents have inalienable rights that supersede those of government — particularly when the moral education of their children is at stake.

Dr. John G. West to speak at FRC

by Robert Morrison

February 5, 2008

FRC is honored to present a Witherspoon Lecture on Tuesday, February 12th at noon by Dr. John G. West. Dr. West will speak on Darwin Day in America? This lecture is co-sponsored with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) of Wilmington, Delaware. Dr. Wests new book is an in-depth analysis of the drive to replace Lincolns Birthday with an international secular holiday called Darwin Day. Dr. West is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute. He will critically examine the movement to indoctrinate students in Darwinian naturalism. Darwin Day in America shows how our politics and culture have been dehumanized in the name of science.

Please join us in our newly redesigned Media Center at 801 G St. NW for this stimulating lecture and discussion. Hardbound copies of Darwin Day in America will available for purchase at a discounted price. Dr. West has graciously agreed to sign copies of his book for attendees. To RSVP, please call 1.800.225.4008 or register online here. The lecture will also be webcast live at www.frc.org.

Straw Poll on the Issues

by Jared Bridges

October 23, 2007

The FRC Action Values Voter Straw Poll has been making lots of news, but one of the poll questions that hasn’t yet gained as much attention was question #3, which asked participants to rank the order of importance among a set of issues. Here are the results:

Please indicate which issue is the most important in determining your opinion of the candidate that you will most likely vote for?

Here’s the statistical breakdown:

ISSUE VOTES PERCENTAGE
Abortion 2398 41.52%
Same-sex “Marriage” 1141 19.76%
Tax Cuts 626 10.84%
Permanent tax relief for families 563 9.75%
Federal “hate crimes” legislation 331 5.73%
No vote on this question 181 3.13%
Taxpayer funding for abortions 151 2.61%
Prayer in schools 93 1.61%
Reinstatement of the “Fairness Doctrine” 88 1.52%
Public display of the Ten Commandments 57 0.99%
Enforced obscenity laws 54 0.94%
Embryonic stem cell experiments 48 0.83%
Voluntary, student-led prayer in schools 44 0.76%
Total 5,775 100%

Now that you’ve got the numbers, feel free to crunch away.

Sex, Drugs, and Encouragement at Boulder High

by Family Research Council

May 23, 2007

As a guest speaker for an assembly at Boulder High School in Colorado, UCLA psychology professor Joel Becker had a surprising message of “encouragement”: Becker encouraged the studentssome as young as 14to have sex (with men, women, or whatever combination they prefer), to do drugs, and to “please masturbate.”

The following audio clips from Becker’s portion of the “sex and drugs” assembly were provided by KOA Radio in Denver:

The Slippery Slopes Of “Brokeback Mountain”

by Tony Perkins

May 16, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

To what extent will the public schools go to indoctrinate our children? They apparently will ford every stream and climb every mountain, including Brokeback Mountain. That is why one family is suing the Chicago Board of Education. Twelve year-old Jessica Turner was forced to watch the movie about illicit homosexual behavior during class. Her grandfather said, This was the last straw. [T]he lawsuit was necessary because… [this] was against our faith. According to reports, a substitute teacher showed Brokeback Mountain at Ashburn Community Elementary School without parents knowledge or consent. The lawsuit claims the woman shut the classroom door and told students, What happens in Ms. Bufords class stays in Ms. Bufords class. The film, which follows two gay cowboys, is rated R for nudity and sexuality. In other words, the movies hardly appropriate for adultslet alone children. But unfortunately, these are the drastic measures teachers are willing to take to indoctrinate our kids with the homosexual agenda. And unless more families tell the school to take a hike, these attacks on childrens innocence will continue to climb.

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. For an e-mail subscription to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

School Punishment A Bitter Pill To Swallow

by Tony Perkins

May 15, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

Tylenol is supposed to relieve headachesnot cause them. But for the parents of Gabriella Nieves, one little pill led to a world of pain. Gabriella, an eighth grader at Northside Middle School in Norfolk, Virginia, took a Tylenol from her friend during history class, but she never had a chance to swallow it. When her teacher saw the exchange, she sent Gabriella to the office and called security. Apparently, Gabriella violated the schools policy that says only a nurse or administrator can dispense medication. Later that day, she was suspended and ordered to complete a drug and alcohol program. Whats worse, the incident will show up on Gabriellas permanent record. Obviously, teachers want kids to get over-the-counter medicine from a school official to make sure its legitimate. But, if safety is the first priority, how can schools justify handing out everything from free birth control to abortion pills without a parents consent? Encouraging promiscuity poses a far greater risk to childrens health than pain relievers. If these schools honestly believe that Tylenols more dangerous than promoting safe sex, then they need a good, strong dose of reality!

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. For an e-mail subscription to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

In Germany, Home Schoolers Under House Arrest

by Tony Perkins

April 5, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

For German parents, teaching kids about faith is as tough today as it was under the Nazis. Since Hitlers time, home schooling has been illegal in the country. Parents who ignore the law are usually jailed or fined. In February, the world watched as a 15 year-old home-schooler was taken from her house by force and put in German custody. According to the court, her parents can only get their daughter back by enrolling her in a public school. As one German official said, As long as you practice your faith in a church building you have no problems, but as soon as you act in accordance with your faith… in the education of your children, the freedom [quickly] ends. What has reportedly prompted even greater government aggression against home-schoolers in Germany is the governments growing fear of radical Islam. As Europe becomes Islamized, democratic governments are clamping down on the good and the bad. The tragedy is that the only defense against the spread of Islam is a vibrant Christian church. But increasingly, Christians will find themselves at odds with governments that see tolerance, rather than truth, as a cultural virtue.

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. To subscribe to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

Term-inator: Elementary School Bans Use Of Gay

by Tony Perkins

March 27, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

When it comes to teaching kids about political correctness, one school is taking the words right out of their mouths. Last month, Gibson Elementary in California started a new policy that punishes kids for using the word gay in a negative way. Just recently, the school suspended a fourth-grader for saying thats gay! at a soccer gameeven though it had nothing to do with homosexuality. The Pacific Justice Institute is suing the school for violating the students free speech rights. After all, its one thing to teach respect. But its another thing to create an atmosphere where only positive views of homosexuality are allowed. This school isnt fighting harassmentits normalizing a dangerous lifestyle. And whats worse, the rule is entirely one-sided. When a child says that something is stupid, the school isnt suspending them for being intolerant toward the mentally handicapped. Putting children on good terms with homosexuality just puts us on the path to policing peoples thoughts. And until this case is resolved, I think the school should let the First Amendment speak for itself.

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. To subscribe to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

TIME for God

by Tony Perkins

March 24, 2007

It’s not just ‘The Good Book’,” said Georgia State Sen. Tommie Williams. “It’s a good book.” Williams was referring to the Bible in an interview about the state’s decision to introduce Bible literary classes in the public schools. The movement to bring the world’s best-selling book back into the classroom is gaining ground across the U.S., demonstrated, in large part, by a thoughtful Time magazine cover story on the subject. The article, “The Case for Teaching the Bible,” argues that the social and cultural benefits of secular Bible classes outweigh any hypersensitivity about Church and State.

Drawing on polls that show over 60% of Americans favor teaching about Scripture in a secular setting like public schools, writer David van Beima discusses the consequences of our nation’s Biblical illiteracy. Among them, he notes the lack of knowledge and understanding about Western civilization at large. Van Beima writes, “[In the end], what is required in teaching the Bible in our public schools is patriotism: a belief that we live in a nation that understands the wisdom of its Constitution clearly enough to allow the most important book in its history to remain vibrantly accessible for everyone.”

What was lost in the sweeping 1963 Supreme Court case that removed prayer from public schools is the reality that the Constitution does not bar an objective treatment of the Bible and religion in schools. It encourages it. Yet the case triggered a mass exodus of any reference to Christianity in education. The time has come for our nation to experience a true revelation on the Bible’s relevance—not only to our personal lives but to our identity as Americans.

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