Calls for severely regulating homeschooling in California have begun in the wake of the horrific Turpin child-abuse case that made national headlines.
“There’s no better way to isolate your child if you are an abusive parent than to homeschool ,” Rachel Coleman, the executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Homeschooling, told NBC 4 in Los Angeles.
Two California state assembly members, Susan Talamantes-Eggman (D-Stockton) and Jose Medina (D-Riverside), want to increase restrictions on homeschooling. The two are partnering with the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torkalson, The Sacramento Bee reported.
The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board is among those pushing for tougher restrictions. David and Louise Turpin are accused of keeping their 13 child starved, chained up and living in filth.
“The answer is that the couple exploited California’s lax homeschooling laws to keep the authorities from finding out what they were doing to their kids,” a Bee editorial charges. “ … Beyond local zoning and fire codes and an annual registration to show that the children enrolled are not truant, private schools have scant oversight in California. The state Department of Education doesn’t approve, monitor, inspect or oversee them. They don’t have to perform standardized testing. The state can’t monitor their academic performance or review their curricula.”
California, the editorial board said, should “follow the lead of New York and Pennsylvania, which require standardized testing and regular assessments.”
“It might also take the labor-intensive step of requiring site visits, as with private day care centers,” the editorial board said.
Civil Rights Violated?
But some say increased regulation is a bad idea.
“We are concerned … that this horrible incident – words fail to describe the depravity – may lead to an unwarranted backlash and violation of the civil rights of law-abiding, thriving, homeschooling families,” James R. Mason of the Home School Legal Defense Association wrote in a Sacramento Bee op-ed.
“The story out of Riverside has prompted The Sacramento Bee and others to adopt a frightening position,” Mason charged.
He summed up the position: “This parent who claims to be home schooling has committed unspeakable acts. Therefore, we need to treat all parents who claim to be home schooling with suspicion and make them submit to periodic government inspections of their homes and children.”
Mason then quoted a 1979 Supreme Court decision that affirmed homeschooling: “That some parents ‘may at times be acting against the interests of their children’ … creates a basis for caution, but it is hardly a reason to discard wholesale those pages of human experience that teach that parents generally do act in the child’s best interest. … The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.”
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