It’s Easy and Legal to Begin CA Homeschooling
As long as the parent follows California law, it is simple and easy to start homeschooling children in California.
State law does not prohibit homeschooling in California. Although the state seems permissive, there are some requirements that have to be met, mainly concerning the subjects that are taught in California.
Homeschool Laws in California
According to the California Education Code §48222, all children between 6 and 18 years of age are required to enroll in public school unless they are attending a full-time private school or are being taught by a tutor who holds a valid California teaching credential. Most homeschool parents meet §48222 by establishing a private school in their home or enroll in a school that offers independent study, either of which negates the requirement for a parent to hold a California teaching credential.
Keep in mind that California requires all private schools to teach certain subjects. For example, English, math, science, social studies, fine arts, health, and physical education must be taught. Additional subjects are required in grades 7-12. California Education Code §51210 and §51220 detail the subject requirements.
Despite court challenges on constitutional grounds and infringement of religious freedom, homeschool parents need to teach the above subjects to stay legal. Currently, there is no provision in California law for supervising the instruction of these required subjects. This means parents are free to determine how the required subjects are taught. With the freedom to design the curriculum, parents can get learning materials such as homeschool textbooks inexpensively or even free.
Setting up a California Homeschool
To set up a home-based private school, submit an electronic private school affidavit (PSA) on the California Department of Education website between October 1st and October 15th of each year. That website also has additional information on setting up a home-based private school.
After the school has been set up, contact the child’s previous school, and inform them that he or she will be attending another school. If notification to the school is not done, the government will consider the child to be truant. At the same time, request student records from the previous school so that the homeschool has complete cumulative student records as required by California law.
Other options for setting up homeschooling include enrolling in independent study programs with a private school, charter school, or even some public school districts. In exchange for restrictions on curriculum and tuition, independent study programs provide materials and support for homeschoolers. Contact local schools and local homeschooling groups to find available options.
California Homeschooling High School
Public school students are required to take the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) to graduate. Private school students are not subject to this requirement. Homeschool students need to meet the graduation requirements of their school, which may be entirely determined by the parents.
The GED or the CHSPE (California High School Proficiency Exam) may be taken to validate a student’s academic program, but this is not required. Only a diploma from the homeschool is needed.
College admissions tests such as the SAT, ACT, or the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) exam do not require attendance at any particular high school. For example, it is not necessary to have taken any formal AP class in order to take an AP exam.
Colleges are not required to waive any admissions requirements for homeschoolers, including those that have to do with standardized tests. It is important that students who want to go to college learn how to do well on standardized tests, even if the tests were not part of the homeschool curriculum.
- California Department of Education.
- California Homeschool Network. “Just the Facts.”
- Homeschool Association of California.
Have Courts Declared it Against the Law to Homeschool In California?
Many homeschooling families have a valid reason for concern in the wake of a California court ruling. What does the ruling really mean to homeschool families?
With an estimated 1.5-1.9 million homeschooled children in the United States, a recent ruling in the California Court of Appeals has given many homeschool parents cause for concern. Not only does the ruling put at risk the right of parents to legally homeschool their children, but it also makes the future of institutions, such as charter schools and independent study programs through public and private schools, uncertain.
Background Information On the Court Case
The court case was centered on one family in California. This family chose to homeschool their eight children in order to protect them from teachings that were contrary to the family’s beliefs on issues such as alternative lifestyles, sexual education, and the theory of evolution.
The case between the family and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services started when one of the children allegedly reported, “physical and emotional mistreatment by the children’s father”, according to LifeSiteNews.
The Court Ruling Against the Family
In the court ruling, the family was ordered to enroll their two youngest children in a public or private school. The children must physically attend this school because children between the ages of six and eighteen are legally required to attend a state-run school.
The courts found that keeping the children at home was cutting them off from society and any situations where they could interact with people outside of their family. According to LifeSiteNews, the court stated that removing the children from social situations also removed opportunities for an outside party to observe possible issues in their home life.
The Issue: Does the Ruling Make it Illegal to Homeschool in the State of California?
According to Governor Schwarzenegger and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, it is not illegal to homeschool in the state of California. According to a report on the Catholics for the Common Good website, O’Connell said, “I have reviewed this case, and I want to assure parents that chose to home school that the California Department of Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling. Parents still have the right to home school in our state.”
According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), the judges, in this case, ignored two very vital pieces of information when handing down what amounted to a blanket ruling. The first thing they failed to note according to NHERI was the research evidence that homeschoolers typically do better than their public school peers when it comes to academic achievement. Students who are homeschooled consistently score 15 to 30 percentile points above public schooled children.
The second point the courts failed to acknowledge according to NHERI is the basic U.S Constitution. The constitution says nothing about children being forced to attend public schools but rather puts the onus on the state to provide free common or tax-funded schools. Nowhere in the constitution does it grant the state the ability or right to control or oversee the education of students not in attendance.
So where does that leave the state of California? Is it illegal to homeschool in that state? According to Catholics for the Common Good Governor Schwarzenegger was quoted as saying, “Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts, and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will.”