"Parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children.”
Those are the words of a California court opinion that has provoked homeschooling advocates nationwide.
The case, which led to a ruling that homeschooling is illegal in California if done by parents without traditional teaching credentials, did not start out as an attack on homeschooling. It began as a child welfare case reminiscent of an Oklahoma incident that in 1996 stirred a debate but no governmental changes.
Proponents of the alternate schooling method are concerned about California, though, because other courts could use the ruling as a precedent.
Several parents attending a national homeschool basketball tournament in Oklahoma this week said they hope the ruling will not survive.
"I am very disappointed with the finding,” said Mark Pyle, a homeschool parent and coach from Houston. "I do know as a homeschooler we're very blessed to have the freedom to teach our children at home, and I want my friends and people I know in California to have that same freedom.”
Oklahoma City homeschool parent Cindy Santelmann said what happens in California has a wider significance.
"I think what's going on in California is of interest because we have to be on alert to what's happening in the courts,” she said. "But I feel confident that homeschooling in Oklahoma is successful and parents are responsible and there's accountability.”
Parents advocate choice
Santelmann, a mother of six, said many people don't do what they should as parents in general, and the child welfare case in California therefore didn't warrant the ruling.
"One bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch,” she said. "One bad apple doesn't mandate a change in a law.
A list of Oklahoma home school support groups
Read the California Ruling