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CA Stone Age

Posted by Annie on Mar 10, 2008 in Legal

Homeschooling legal in Michigan since 1993

Homeschooling legal in Michigan since 1993!

I am from Michigan and a few years back our family decided to move from California to Michigan: what a culture shock. It was like a throw back to the 90’s. No Internet Café, no computer fair or convention to attend, no technology deals.

It was like living in the Stone Age. I found it unbelievable how many people did not have computers or web pages to show off their business to the world. It was a huge adjustment for our family.

When we returned to California five-years-ago, it was with a sigh of relief to be back in "civilization," and among a more technologically-advanced forward-thinking people. With the recent developments, I’m not so sure. After all, Michigan has a homeschool law that says, "hey, parents can be trusted."

While at the same time, if Judge Croskey of the 2nd Appellate Court has his way California will be the state with the most restrictive homeschool law in the country. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that one.

Now Michigan residents are rubbing our nose in it. A recent 13 News article taunts us, "Homeschooling legal in Michigan since 1993." The article continues:

Wyoming – Michigan once had a law requiring parents to have a teacher certification if they homeschool their children. But unlike California, the Michigan law was changed 15 years ago.

Now Michigan parents who say they want to home school their children for religious reasons need no certification. The law was overturned in 1993 after an Allendale couple took their case to the Michigan Supreme Court and won.

Will California lose its reputation for being movers and shakers, a leader among the states? Will we now begin to look toward Michigan for guidance? Remember the phrase… "As California goes, so goes the nation?" That’s a scary thought.

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News in the News

Posted by Annie on Mar 7, 2008 in Legal

Homeschooling is legal and everyone now knows it.

Homeschooling is legal and everyone now knows it!

Have you been following all the online commotion? All this exposure is good, good, good — for homeschooling in California. If you are currently homeschooling in California, it might surprise you to know that as a homeschooling contact and editor of LocalHS, I am often asked if homeschooling is legal.

It always surprises me and I feel like saying, get with it man, where have you been? Living under a rock? But of course, I explain the law to them and move on to the important stuff. The upside to the court ruling that has phones ringing off the hook and fingers flying, is good news because those who weren’t aware of the legality of homeschool are getting an education now and much of the news has been positive.

Some of these articles really crack me up. Just this morning an AP article had to this to say:

The immediate impact of the ruling was not clear. Attorneys for the state Department of Education were reviewing the ruling, and home schooling organizations were lining up against it.

Totally funny! The Department of Education is reviewing the ruling. Oh yeah, and what exactly are they going to do? Start a war? You don’t fire up homeschoolers by calling it illegal, then drag in homeschoolers and charge them with a crime. Come on – whom are they trying to kid?

The CDE has backed down to homeschoolers time and time again over the years. Several years ago some of us caught the CDE telling bold faced lies on their website. The truth is homeschoolers in this state have been well-educated as to their rights as parents and as homeschoolers. We have enough lawyers available to us to drag this issue through the courts until most of our children are in college.

Kristin Chapman of World Mag reported that:

Legal experts say the ruling is a long time coming, given that home schooling is virtually unregulated in California…

Martin said school districts and social workers have been reluctant to scrutinize suspect home schools for fear of lawsuits. The ruling, he expects, will make it easier for them to monitor parents who have neglected or under-educated children through home schooling.

I just love that word "monitor." They can’t even "monitor" their own teachers. Have you read the news lately? Teachers are constantly being busted for something, schools are misappropriating funds and there is no way most homeschoolers are going to give up our right to tend to our own children, much less allow anyone to "monitor" us.

Speaking as someone who has lived around the country — we always check out the homeschooling laws in the state before we consider a move. States like Michigan and Texas have no regulation. All hell hasn’t broken out there yet. I think the schools should be minding their own business and let us mind ours.

Which brings me to the teacher layoffs. Just how many new students do you think these schools can readily handle — in addition to their current students? The governor has cut back school funding, pink slips are being sent out to teachers across the state next month and yet, they think they are going to force our children into already overcrowded classrooms?

I don’t think so…

This is an election year and I’m guessing legislators aren’t going to want to alienate a huge voting block either. Remember the last time homeschoolers got riled up and shut down the switch board at the White House?

If you ask my opinion (well you didn’t, but I’m going to give it anyway), the courts will do their best to defuse this situation the best way they can. While it’s not easy to get an opinion depublished that is their safest course of action.

~Annette signing off – for now.

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No Place To Go

Posted by Annie on Mar 4, 2008 in Legal

Runaway Teens Request For Assistance Triggers Investigation

No Place To Go!

On October 29, 2005 the Long’s then 14-year-old daughter ran away from home. Her reasons are shared by many a headstrong teenager who resents the authority of a parent. When she found herself with no place to go, she took it upon herself to contact child welfare workers, in order to secure a place to stay.

Her actions triggered yet another investigation. (This was not the Long families first involvement with CPS caseworkers.) Attorneys were assigned to represent each parent and the two youngest minor children – provided for at state expense. The subsequent court battle resulted in a finding for the parents, who not only kept their children in the home but the lower court had no issue with the children being homeschooled.

Attorney Lori A. Fields, representing the two minor children took issue with the court ruling and decided that homeschooling did not provide an appropriate education for Jonathan and Mary Grace. Fields appealed the ruling to the Second Appellate Court.

It was around this time that Jonathan, wishing to continue homeschooling, requested his attorney be dismissed and replaced. The court refused to honor his request and continued the hearing, without holding the required Marsden hearing. The court reasoned that the attorney, which was provided by the court was charged with acting in the children’s best interest – not necessarily to work on the children’s behalf, according to his wishes.

The court ultimately ruled that they had indeed erred in failing to hold a Marsden hearing but contended that the Marsden hearing was irrelevant and therefore had no bearing on the case and subsequent ruling.

Had the minor children been adults, with the funds to hire an attorney to represent them, the attorney would have been hired with the clear understanding that they were to represent them and their wishes (or face being fired). Should the minor children have less right to representation because a court appointed attorney was assigned to their case?

This is an issue I hope will be addressed by the legal minds that take on this enormous challenge.

My phone has been ringing off the hook today. Terry Nevens of CHELD and I had a very long conversation today regarding the case. He is working with the Long Family, putting together their strategy, just as homeschooling organizations around the state are sinking their teeth into the case. Stay tuned for more discussion of the Long case. There are many more avenues of this case to explore. Now if I only had more time.

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