Criminalizing Home Education – California

As a grandmother of the early home education movement in North America, naturally I was concerned about the recent court ruling in California which basically criminalized about 200,000 home schooling parents lacking teaching credentials. Hopefully, if it is not overturned by the Supreme Court, Governor Schwarzenegger has promised legislative remedy: "Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education.”

I am very impressed by the extent and depth of feeling and outrage expressed by supporters of home education. But, I am disappointed at the hostility and shallowness of those who are opposed, either out of self-interest (teacher unions) or basic intolerance. (Just Google California home schooling ruling…)

It is because this case even came up in 2008, and because the hostility and threat can be reasserted at any time, that I would like you to read my publication in 1987 which was useful in two ways: 1) to encourage home educators, and 2) to put the education establishment on notice about the legality and imperatives driving this movement. In the article I quote John Holt as saying:

Today freedom has different enemies. It must be fought for in different ways. It will take very different qualities of mind and heart to save it.”

Published in a prestigious educator magazine — The Canadian School Executive —  the article carries weight to this day, often quoted.

My history in home education goes back to 1972 when, after being credentialed from a Teachers College, I traveled with my children to Mexico to study under Ivan Illich of deschooling fame. 

There I met with John Holt. He knew I had two young children with me, ages 3 and 5, and asked if I would be enrolling them in school soon. I said I might educate them at home.

He thought this was illegal, but I said I found from my readings at Teachers College that the “otherwise” clause in most Education Acts allowed it.

He then commented that at least I would be qualified to do it, having obtained a teaching certificate. Again, I enlightened him with the fact that this was not a requirement.

He then posed the thoughtful but predictable question about socialization, and we chatted about the various community opportunities available and the negative aspects of socialization that parents wanted to avoid.

His parting comment was: “Smart City!”

Using his mailing list which he had used to encourage education reform, he soon embraced home education and in 1977 started a new publication, “Growing Without Schooling".

Meanwhile, Dr. Raymond Moore was spreading the word (The Family Report) amongst his mainly Christian audience and paid frequent visits to Vancouver, especially when we held Home Learning Fairs.

You can download the article: Home Education: the third option which helped validate the movement and to see issues of 20 years ago reappearing today……

(See this article under Home Education)

1 Response to “Criminalizing Home Education – California”


  • This is the comment I made after John Stossel’s story: No Right to Educate Your Own Child, April 6, 2008 came out on UnionLeader.com
    http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=John Stossel: No right

    When I was in Mexico in 1972 attending lectures by Ivan Illich on Deschooling and deinstitutionalization in general I met with John Holt. He was a school reformer who was instrumental in much growth of the home education movement after 1977 when he started his Growing Without Schooling magazine.

    He said: “Today freedom has different enemies. It must be fought for in different ways. It will take very different qualities of mind and heart to save it.”

    We see what’s happened in California. Sane people there are counseling “Be cool” and let the Supreme Court overturn this, but, don’t push for legislation. Why? Because the teacher unions are so politically powerful! We do have to beware of the predatory state and its agents.

    And why are these authorities, state powers, and various public servant groups so pugnacious? It’s because they are protecting their ill-gotten gain, that which they usurped from their rightful owners – the families.
    – Tunya Audain, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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