Sunday, March 2, 2008

Explanation of Religious Exemption Discussion in Long Case

Debbie Schwarzer from the Homeschool Association of California's legal team posted a useful explanation of the religious exemption discussion in the Second Appellate Court's ruling in the Long case to the HSC Yahoo group. I think that it deserves a wider audience since it has implications for homeschooling beyond just California. Here's what Debbie has to say:
"The court basically meant that unless you're Old Order Amish, it's going to reject your claim that you are constitutionally protected because of your religious beliefs in not complying with your state's compulsory education law (although you would be able to win a claim that you shouldn't be forced to go to public school if a private school that meets state requirements and meets your religious requirements were available). The Yoder case the court mentions was the one in which the Amish were permitted to withdraw their children from school after 8th grade. The Pierce case established that parents have the right to choose religious education, but did not hold that the parents could keep their children out of any kind of school. I am not sure any religious group other than the Old Order Amish would be able to satisfy any court now in the latter respect. We are looking at what the options are. I don't want to say a lot more until I've spoken with the other state homeschool group leaders and with HSLDA, but it is a very worrisome opinion. This is a classic case of bad facts making bad law."

Debbie Schwarzer

HSC Legal Team

The First Amendment right to freedom of worship has slowly been undermined over recent decades. Activist judges hostile to Christianity keep handing down bad ruling after bad ruling. Because of these type of rulings, faith-affiliated organizations are being denied religious exemptions to laws that conflict with the teachings of those faiths. Catholic hospitals are forced to provide the abortifacient "Plan B" pill, Catholic Charities are forced to permit homosexual couples to adopt, Christian pharmacists are forced to dispense abortifacient medicines, Christian colleges are forced to permit homosexual student organizations, and so on. Regardless of whether or not one personally agrees with those policies, the denial of religious exemptions is an infringement upon the rights of the parties concerned to practice their religion. There are plenty of other providers from which those services might be obtained. The inconvenience of the person having to seek a service elsewhere does not justify denying the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

Again in the case of the Longs we're seeing activist judges undermining First Amendment rights. Parents with a sincere belief that the Bible calls for them to homeschool (e.g. Deuteronomy 6:7-9, Proverbs 22:6, and so on) should be free to do so regardless of whether they may be a traditional religious school available to them.


Hanley Family said...

Thank you for sharing this...I saw the WND article and only skimmed it but haven't had time to actually look anything up. This is troublesome. Not terribly surprising and I think we will see a general movement in this direction.

I wish I knew a good answer to it.

In the committee hearing on the homeschool bill here in Nebraska, religion was brought up a bit, but the committee didn't seem to understand the point. They kept asking if religion precluded the teaching of math and reading, which was irrelevant.

People should really understand what it is that testing does before they legislate on it.

Unknown said...

I read through the court documents that were available, but I found it curious that I did not see any response.

The document was written, it appeared, by the state lawyers. It included old case law (my understanding is that the homeschooling laws were re-written since that ruling and new case law would apply) and reference to cases outside of California.

My concern is, was there a response from the lawyers defending the children? As entered, you would believe that homeschooling families are criminally negligent of the care for their children's education.

Interestingly is the fact that the lawyers state that how well the children test out on standard tests, had no bearing on the law, but rather that the children had to sit in a classroom for 6 hours a day. Though they did not say it, my take was that they are saying that the public schools need the funding that each child brings, but their test scores will not matter.

Civics also seemed to be of concern that home schoolers are not indoctrinated to the ways the state needs for activity in the community.

Excuse me, but public schools teach apathy, not activity. We are all apart of the community and as such have responsibilities to our city, county, state and country. The homeschooling children I see are active in community theater, fund raisers for cancer research and other worth while causes. They volunteer in their community. In short they are active.

I am starting to ramble. The short story here is that we (supposedly) live in a free country. Education has become a huge problem in this country in the quality and safety of the nations children. If all children were required to report to the public schools, it would seriously add to the overcrowding, increase the number of students to teacher ratios, create more demand for money from the state at a time when the state does not have it.

At this point, moving to another state might start looking good.

Christina said...

Wesley, there are no homeschooling laws in CA at all. Homeschoolers here pursue one of several legal paths in order to teach their kids at home. I believe the private school laws were changed after Turner and Shinn (the old cases cited in the ruling). That path is one that many CA hs'ers choose, including myself, establishing a very exclusive, legally compliant private school physically located in our private residence.

Angela said...

Does it seem to anyone else that this ruling is a knee-jerk reaction to the vast amount of children projected to leave the public school system this next school year and pursue home school educational options instead?

I read somewhere a couple weeks ago that nearly 15,000 children state-wide were projected to not re-enroll for next year (they hadn't as of yet even though most public schoolers have automatically re-enrolled - and were projected to consider 'other educational options').

Protecting the money perhaps?

That's a lot to lose all at one time - a little intimidation would go a long way towards making some first-timers reconsider.

Angela <><

Crimson Wife said...

Actually, after reading the details of the abuse allegations, I think the ruling had to do more with the judges not trusting the child welfare authorities to do their job in monitoring a troubled family.

Unfortunately, if the allegations are, in fact, legitimate (something that is unclear given that it's a classic "he said/she said" situation), there is no guarantee that simply forcing the kids to go to a traditional school will stop it.