Homeschoolers Cause Legislator to Back Down, But There’s More Work to Do
by Mike Smith • April 4, 2018
There is good news in the continuing saga of the homeschoolers’ fight for freedom in California.
The author of Assembly Bill 2756 has changed the measure so that it no longer calls for local fire marshals to inspect the homes of homeschooling families every year.
However, there’s some bad news, too. Another provision in AB 2756, dealing with how homeschooling families identify themselves when filing an annual affidavit, raises concerns about privacy.
Meanwhile, Assembly Bill 2926, which calls for the state superintendent of public instruction to form a committee to “investigate” homeschooling, is advancing through the legislature.
These bills, which could significantly change the nature of homeschooling in California, arose in response to a shocking criminal case involving homeschool parents in Perris, California. In January, the Turpins were charged with abusing and neglecting their 13 children.
The media immediately attributed the abuse to lax oversight of homeschoolers.
Assemblyman Jose Medina attempted to address this criticism with AB 2756, which would have mandated annual fire inspections for parents who home educate by establishing a private school in their homes.
After a barrage of letters and calls to the legislature from the homeschooling community, Medina withdrew the fire inspection requirement.
However, he left in the bill a requirement that homeschool families declare the nature of their private school when filing the affidavit every year. Filing an annual affidavit to establish a private school is the way most homeschooling families in California comply with compulsory attendance laws. The California Department of Education will be required to publish this declaration and information to the public annually. Our concern is that this list could be exploited either by the state or private entities.
Groundwork for more Legislation?
AB 2926 continues to wind its way through the legislature with a tentative hearing date of April 25 in the Education Committee. This bill would mandate the appointment of a committee to study home education to address the alleged “lack of regulation” of California homeschoolers. The bill’s author Susan Eggman mentioned, at a minimum, three areas that should be explored:
- health and safety inspections;
- curriculum standards;
- teacher certification or credentialing.
Both of these bills are unnecessary, as their justification is based upon a false premise: “Homeschooling parents cannot be trusted because there is not enough government interactions with their children, which leads to abuse and neglect.”
To the contrary, homeschooling parents can be trusted. A recent study of homeschooling concluded that the frequency of abuse and neglect in states where there is very little oversight is not greater than it is in highly regulated states. Another researcher concluded that homeschoolers are 40% less likely to abuse their children than the general population.
If you would like to weigh in on this, write a letter to the chairman of the Education Committee expressing your beliefs. HSLDA has sent letters to all the Education Committee members and the chairman, asking each to vote no on the two bills. The only way these bills will be stopped is if homeschoolers get engaged and contact the legislature with your concerns.
Thank you for your action, and stay tuned; this could be a long, drawn-out process.