Should Homeschoolers Get Teaching Credentials? California Court Says: Do it, or Face Criminal Charges

Posted March 12, 2008 by

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I have always wondered if people who homeschool should get some kind of teacher training before they start–you know, so they could brush up on school subjects and find out about all the new things being taught out there. I actually briefly considered homeschooling my son, but my lack of math skills has always held me back. You see, I know my son will be more advanced than I am by the time he reaches, oh, 3rd grade. (Seriously. Long division without a calculator sends me into a panic.)

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are thousands of parents out there who are homeschooling and doing an excellent job. I personally know a few families who, for various reasons, decided to go that route and have been very happy with their decision. And bad math skills aside, I wouldn’t rule it out for myself if the situation ever called for my son to leave the public school system. (Though I would probably enlist the help of a tutor–for both of us!)
Now, a state appellate court in California has ruled that parents in that state will need teaching credentials or risk facing criminal charges. A little “Spanish Inquistion” if you ask me–I mean, come on, are they really going to lock up parents who are homeschooling without a teaching certificate? The ruling will most likely be appealed, perhaps all the way to the California Supreme Court, but it does make you think: Should parents who home school get training or not? And who, if anyone, should monitor the safety and education of kids who are homeschooled?


Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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  1. Angela Goff Report

    I think that home schooling is an exceptional way to educate children. I home schooled my children through high school, without a teaching certificate. However, I am a private music teacher, and running a business out of my home was the only way I was able to teach my kids at home. I am often asked if I think home schooling is superior to a formal setting. In my experience with home schoolers verses public, charter, or private schoolers that I taught music to, exceptional children seem to come from parents who are highly involved with their children, not nessesarily what type of education system is chosen.

  2. M.A. Britton Report

    Educating at home is what I prefer to call it.

    The availability of curriculum for my child to learn is far and wide reaching. I can choose a curriculum that is best suited for my children, maybe a system that includes all the subjects necessary for a basic education, similar to the public schools. I can choose a Christian based curriculum set up the same way, or I can choose from thousands of educational materials available to Home Educators. We have used many different avenues. Mostly an eclectic mix. We have a lot of fun learning in our home. My children have soared in their education and they love it.

    This year we are working with an online academy – Christian based, it teaches my child through independent learning – yet, I am right there if she needs assistance. The internet has opened the doors to incredible teaching opportunities – unavailable in the public school system.

    In our state, Minnesota, one parent in the home must posses at least a Bachelors degree, not specifically in education. If neither parent has a degree, than said family must report quarterly to the state. I am not a fan of too much government in our life and this is as close as I want to see it interfering in our state. Everyone must have their child complete a standardized test each year and keep those records on file.

    It is a check and balance system that works well.

    It is sad to say, there are bad parents, they exist in every area of our society. However, for California to put all home educators in the basket with this one abusive father makes no sense. Punish the culprit, not the rest of us.

    Finally, our choice to educate at home was not based only on academics, we also felt it was a moral decision. The decline of moral values in the school systems, along with the growing violence were major factors.

    Because we educate at home, I do not have to worry about my children’s classmates bringing a weapon to school… They might show up in their PJ’s though…

  3. Marion Report

    Home schooling works. Ansel Adams, Geo Washington, and tons of others were home schooled. Teaching Certificates only prepare you to teach groups of children. I have one and the credential did’t do me a bit of good. Some of my friends have no credential and they are fantastic teachers. If the kid can read, the kid can learn. Anything you can’t do as a home school parent you can hire out. My kid is fluent in Spanish because I hired a teacher. Same goes for math. You don’t have to know everything to home school, teachers who are credentialed don’t know everything and some know less than you think. Colleges solicit home schoolers because they are a good bet and and asset to their school

  4. Jeannie Report

    We have an employee that moved his family from southern California because of the teacher’s union was so strong that he felt it was interfering with the very education of the children. The county also had very restrictive laws about home schooling. Our employee left the only place he had know all of his life to get out of a school system that he feels is out of control. My sister who has a Master’s in elementary education just moved from the bay area to Texas because the school systems in her area were poor and spent too much money on administrators and not enough on the school themselves. She taught at two different private schools there but refused to teach at the public schools because of the union and the administration.

    Why is the DA in California going after the home schooling system when obviously this man should be in jail for child abuse. Who pushed the district attorney in this direction? I suspect if the press would dig a little the answer would become clear. Maybe the home schoolers should not be on trial in California, but the school systems should be. (Child abuse would lessen if education was better.)

    This country is a free country and how you choose to educate your child is your business. In Tennessee even if you home school you still have to turn in grades and your children have to have competent scores on the state’s standardized test. If your child lacks then I suspect the state would step-in, but not before the parent is given a fair chance to educate. Also, there are many homeschooling co-ops here that enhance the home schooling experience for both parent and child. The zoo, many gymnastic companies, etc offer special classes just for home schoolers. I agree that what is going on in California is too similar to the “Inquisition”.

  5. Rebecca Report

    I’m a licensed certified public school teacher, and I chose to quit in order to teach my 7 children…. I actually think having a teacher’s certificate hinders me in so many ways. I try to make a classroom out of my home, I often get caught up in classroom techniques and approaches that other mothers who simply enjoy their children and don’t have all of this “useless” training designed for classroom management and public regulations (passes, grade books, etc) It took years to shake myself of a lot of the nonsense and get to the heart of schooling… the love of learning.

    It is my honest opinion that many (not all) homeschool mothers do a competent to excellent job. I’ve met a few that shouldn’t be homeschooling, but then I’ve met a few parents that shouldn’t be parenting, so all’s fair. Why should the government burn the whole lot by legislating it or making it illegal or over regulating it because of one or two bad “potatoes”? Many of the national spelling bee champs and runners-up have been home schoolers. I know that several years ago, the top scholarship in our state went to a home schooler…

    My own daughter graduated from college 3rd in her class – a home schooled child. I’ve home schooled “normal,” “gifted,” and am now working on my “special needs” kiddies. I’m here to say a teacher’s certificate does nothing for me. A teacher is born, not made – my grandmother’s words, not mine.

  6. Missy Report

    I homeschool my two children 13 and 11 years old. Both have special needs and homeschooling has helped them succeed. Yes their is occasionally a homeschooling family who is found to be abusing their kids; but it seems that eventually if abuse is going on that someone, a neighbor, friend, relative will report it. The schools are in place for TEACHING not to be our POLICE.

  7. Elisabeth Wilkins Report

    lynn corsi » You’re right–I probably should have explained that statement better. In your case, it sounds like you were a responsible, loving parent who homeschooled your child for very good reasons. (In fact, I would have done exactly the same thing in your place.) In the case of the ruling in California, the father in the family was accused of being physically abusive to his children. So my concern is for kids who are homeschooled in an abusive household–while I’m sure this is the minority of cases– I wonder who will notice what is happening, unless the child has the courage to come forward? I don’t know what the solution is, but I think it’s worth talking about.

  8. lynn corsi Report

    I don’t understand the statement of who will be monitoring the saftey of children if they are home schooled. Who monitors them when they are not at school? We do. That’s just plain silly.
    And who taught those children before they went to school? We did. My youngest daughter could read before she was two years old. My oldest daughter was treated so badly by other students I home schooled her for two years. When she went back they moved her up a grade. How we did this, because alot of my skills were not that great, I would have her learn the lessons from the teachers manual, and teach them to me. An education is an education. What does it matter if you get it at home. In the higher grades, I believe if they aren’t going to learn it at home, they sure won’t learn it at school.

  9. Lynda Willis Report

    I am a homeschool mother of 3 and I believe most parents want what is best for their children. That is why I homeschool. I believe I should be able to teach my children from a Christian viewpoint. I am trying to raise Godly children who will do His will in the future. Nobody needs to monitor the safety of my children. I love them and want them to succeed academically as well as spiritually. I have the teacher books and if I can’t teach them we will get help from other homeschool parents or from the internet. My daughters are 10 and 7. My son is 3. I know where they are and what they are doing. I know who they are with and I know what they are learning and what they need help with. California needs to leave the homeschoolers alone. A Concerned Christian Mom

  10. Christi Holm Report

    I have knowwn many families that have homeschooled and have wonderful, well adjusted and academically exceptional children. I did not homeschool for the same reasons mentioned above, I felt that my math skills would not be adequate. I now know that there is much support for this issue, and I could have homeschooled them. We opted for a private Chirstian School instead. Many familes do not have this option because of the financial obligation, homeschooling is an excellent alternative.
    I think that one on two or three or four is far better thatn the one on 30 in many classrooms. I also think that there are far too many sub-standard teachers out there doing a horrible disservice to America’s chldren. I feel that every parent should have an “opt-out” right to not put their children in public school. If we could not afford private school, I would homeschool. How long would it take for me to become credentialed? Would I be breaking the law while I was in school? It is a lucicrous idea and a shame that tax dollars won’t be spent on all that is wrong in our country and leave what is working well alone.



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