Days after homeschool supporters rallied at the Capitol against a bill that required home fire inspections, new legislation is creating a path for more regulations.

Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) amended AB 2926 on Tuesday (March 20). Her amendments call for the creation of a committee that would advise the state Superintendent of Public Instruction “on the appropriateness and feasibility of imposing additional requirements, as provided, on home schools.”

Follows AB 2756

Assemblyman Susan Eggman (photo: State Assembly)

Eggman’s bill follows AB 2756, sponsored by Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside). Medina’s bill requires homeschools to be inspected annually by a local fire marshal. The lawmaker said that provision will be dropped. Eggman co-sponsored Medina’s bill.

She also introduced an identical bill, AB 2926. On Tuesday, she crossed out the original language and inserted the creation of a “diverse advisory committee” to look at three specific areas of homeschooling: health and safety inspections, specific curriculum standards, and certification or credentialing of teachers. There are no details of what those terms mean.

If the bill becomes law, the committee would pass on its recommendations to the superintendent and state education board for further legislation.

Riverside County Case Motivates Eggman

Eggman says the Riverside County arrests of David and Louise Turpin in January on child abuse charges motivated her to write the law. The Turpins are accused of starving 13 of their children and force them to live in unimaginable conditions. They reportedly homeschooled their children.

“While this horrific example is not indicative of the vast majority of loving, caring families who choose to homeschool for various reasons, it has shed light on just how little we know about these schools and students, especially when compared to some other states,” Eggman told GV Wire.

Opponents Ready For Fight

Stefanie Fetzer of Parents United 4 Kids organized a rally against AB 2756, March 19 at the state Capitol. Her objections continue with Eggman’s bill.

“AB 2926 is an egregious overreach.  And it is unnecessary.  There is no crisis mitigating an advisory committee that will undoubtedly lead to restrictive legislation on homeschooling families.  Our legislators do not create advisory committees without an intent to produce legislation as a result of the committee’s recommendation,” Fetzer said.

“AB 2926 is an egregious overreach.  And it is unnecessary.  There is no crisis mitigating an advisory committee that will undoubtedly lead to restrictive legislation on homeschooling families.”Stefanie Fetzer, Parents United 4 Kids

Home School Legal Defense Association President Mike Smith says similar proposals occurred in 2002 when Delaine Eastin was state superintendent.

“Homeschoolers generally score as well or better than their public school counterparts and a study showed that there is not a difference in test scores of homeschoolers on these standardized tests in the highly regulated states like New York and lower regulated states like California.  The Legislature agreed and decided not to pursue legislation,” Smith said.

So, what changed?

The Turpin case,” Smith said. “To punish all homeschooling families in California because of one family’s aberration is unfair to homeschoolers and unwise public policy. To take this legislation up and to appoint a committee to study homeschooling in California would not only be a waste of time but a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

Calls Flood Eggman’s Office

“Contrary to the concerns being expressed, the bill does not establish any restrictions or requirements on homeschools.”Assemblywoman Susan Eggman

Since the homeschool community learned of the changes to the bill, they have called Eggman’s Sacramento office en masse.

“My staff and I have heard from hundreds of concerned homeschooling parents,” she said. “Contrary to the concerns being expressed, the bill does not establish any restrictions or requirements on homeschools.

“Rather, AB 2926 simply requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to establish a diverse advisory committee to provide suggestions to the Superintendent and the Legislature on potential changes to the administration of in-home private schools, if appropriate and feasible.  I believe this is a modest step to take to ensure we are achieving the best educational outcomes for homeschooled children.”

Candidate Reacts

Marshall Tuck is running for Superintendent of Public Instruction, the top elected education official in the state.

“It’s important that we support our parents that choose homeschool for their children. If this bill passes, I hope the proposed committee is able to develop recommendations on how the state can best support high-quality homeschooling,” Tuck told GV Wire.

GV Wire also reached out to the other major candidate in the superintendent’s race, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond). Thurmond did not respond before publication of this story.

CTA Supports Stricter Homeschool Regulation

The California Teachers Association does not have a position on AB 2926. But while CTA does not object to homeschool on its face, the teachers’ union supports tighter regulation of homeschools.

“Teachers of home instruction programs should meet California certification requirements. Additionally, there are certain guidelines educators believe should be followed. … Permission granted by the local governing board shall be required annually,” CTA spokeswoman Claudia Briggs said.

CTA’s position is that students should get the same lessons as in public school, attendance records should be kept and students take state-mandated tests.

Eggman Running for Re-Election

Eggman, first elected to the Assembly in 2012, is running for her fourth term this year.

The latest campaign filings show that CTA has not contributed to her 2018 re-election bid. The union previously donated $27,900 directly to campaign accounts.

Eggman’s bill has been referred to the Assembly Education Committee, but there is no scheduled hearing date.

7 Responses

  1. The Contemporary Homeschooler

    Dear Assemblywoman Eggman and Assemblyman Medina,

    Bill AB2926 was brought to my attention. If it were to pass, it would be a step backward for education because California homeschoolers are on the cutting edge of educational innovation and customized learning. The ecosystem of classes, programs and enrichment opportunities is enormous for California homeschoolers. With such a tremendous infrastructure in place, California homeschoolers have created a thriving and dynamic place to receive a 21st- century education and explore one’s passions.

    Personalized learning, also referred to as individualized learning, is all the rage in education circles these days. Unfortunately, when we hear about this in a conventional school setting, this usually just refers to adaptive computer programs. On top of that, many of those adaptive computer programs are not very effective. Homeschoolers have truly been personalizing their children’s learning for years because we are free from bureaucracy and a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Parents know their children better and love them more than any other person who wants to get involved in their education. Homeschool parents spend tremendous time and energy in researching and finding the optimal education for our kids. We can be most successful with a hands-off approach, so we can effectively tailor our children’s education to best meet their needs. Homeschoolers shine because we aren’t required to follow a government standard that doesn’t meet the needs of most children on an individual level. 

    In my opinion, homeschoolers are the most progressive in terms of reimagining what educating the whole child can be. Sir Ken Robinson so passionately makes the case for this in the #1 Ted Talk of all times called “How Schools Kill Creativity.”  

    Please join me in supporting the California homeschool community and all we have accomplished. We respectfully ask you to withdraw AB2926 which would stifle homeschool families who are true educational entrepreneurs. We are nimble and adaptive to our children’s needs and learning opportunities because of our freedom to be educational entrepreneurs.

    California prides itself on being progressive. Let us continue to be progressive with cutting edge, personalized education and a role model for other educators around the nation and world. Please withdraw AB2926 and let homeschoolers continue to innovate.

    The Contemporary Homeschooler

  2. TS

    The CTA needs to focus on its own business, considering CA public schools rank 42nd in the nation. Homeschooling isn’t the problem here.

  3. Parent

    If this is spurred by the Turpin case, this new rule seems to have lost all pretense of protecting those children and seems an all out assault on homeschooling, right when homeschooling has become the most innovative segment of education. Where is the concern to do something to prevent these abuse cases? Abusive parents who hide their children to abuse them do not need homeschooling laws to do this, such as Jaycee Duggard’s kidnappers, who simply hid her and her children. One could argue that the honeschooling rules allowed the Turpins to actually take the children outside. We need funding to study the problem of people who hide their hildren to abuse them, and a plan, modelled on suicide prevention, to inform the public of what to look for and where to report concerns. Neighbors and others had concerns about the Turpin children for years but did nothing. There should be an informed public education campaign so that those closest to the abusers know what to look for and do.

    How has the quest to do something about that case so quickly turned from preventing this abuse to an inquisition into how to regulate homeschooling? The whole point of indepndent education is the independence. My own high schooler began homeschooling – through a public district – because our local district leadership could not punish us enough for trying to improve the environment to be less prone to causing asthma and other illnesses, despite a $375 million+ facilities bond that promised they would do this. Then we discovered how much better an education and a balanced life were possible without the punishing overhead of school and more control of personal time and life. It has been possible to prioritize seeing elderly grandparents while also accelerating in subjects where opportunities were denied in school.

    Studies of homeschooling testing find that children of parents with less education do nearly as well as those with more, and that there is no achievement or gender gap. This makes sense because homeschooling is custom education for each child. If the state wants to regulate homeschooling without understanding it, they will face the fight of their lives from many people whose children were languishing or even being harmed in school. Because of flexible homeschooling rules, I had the choice to put my energy into supporting my child rather than fighting self-serving, vindictive people I could never have expected to find in a school setting given our wonderful early experience there.

    If the state wants to support homeschooling, they should be considering whether we can use the funding we send every year to pay for two other children to attend the local public school my child can’t. If they want to control teacher credentialing, their making the equal funds available for homeschoolers will make it possible to choose the best ala carte educational options (with credentialed teachers) that we currently can’t afford. Or requiring school districts to take homeschoolers for classes and after school activities as some states require. Any advising committee should consist mostly of parents and educators with experience in self-directed and independent education, otherwise the result will be as ignorant and damaging as the original proposal.

    If Assemblywoman Eggman wants this rule to be as benign as her claims, she should revise it to ensure the advisory panel consists mostly of people who have experience with and knowledge of the positive, innovative mainstream of independent education and truly want to support not destroy it.

  4. Lisa

    The trouble with regulations is that they presume a one size fits all scenario and that simply isn’t the case when it comes to kids…and that’s why many of us are choosing to homeschool.
    Homeschoolers are a diverse group of educators. We cater directly to our children’s needs, whether they are pursuing opportunities that require travel or fighting social anxiety just to step into the front yard. We support kids with mild to severe learning disabilities, life threatening illnesses, and gifted children who are working on college level mathematics in between little league games. These are children who don’t fit into the local school system, and trying to place them and label them and “manage” them with testing and exceptions to regulations does more emotional harm than it could possibly do good.
    Besides, trying to regulate homeschooling from the framework of a traditional classroom simply doesn’t make sense. Parents aren’t necessarily the educators. We are just the facilitators, finding opportunities for them to learn from experienced teachers and enthusiasts who are teaching in ways that make sense for our unique children.
    If you want to support homeschooling, the wording of the bill should be inclusive and specify that you are looking for ways to support homeschooled children. Requiring that at least half the members of the advisory board be actively homeschooling or veteran homeschoolers from multiple philosophies (classical, unschooling, living books, eclectic) and with different motivations (learning disabilities, religious content, secular content, avoiding bullies) is the only way to begin to understand homeschooling needs.
    If the goal is to prevent abuse cases such as the Turpins, you need to focus on supporting all families, not demonize some choices. The CDC suggests that stable housing and access to affordable medical care can help protect against child abuse. These goals would benefit all children, not only those at risk for abuse or neglect, and creating better stability and more options for support ensures that not only are fewer kids likely to fall between the cracks but no one is hurt by regulations that don’t fit their needs.

  5. Noel

    What would it mean exactly for parents be able to teach from home needing to meet California certification? What tests would be required for the certification? Would that mean one would need credentials as well?

  6. Courtney B

    “CTA’s position is that students should get the same lessons as in public school, attendance records should be kept and students take state-mandated tests.”

    Yes, and how has that been working out for the children in public schools? What is our state ranking overall right now? Also, is this about preventing abuse or forcing the homeschool community, which is generally producing academic successes at greater rates than public schools, to be under state control? Have any of these people been following the news in California? Rampant abuse of children by peers, teachers, and staff. I have some horrible stories I have heard in my district in the past couple of weeks. Parents are getting fed up with learning their children have been bullied, sexually abused, assaulted, shamed, and so on at school, then going up the chain of command and seeing the responsibility to act get repeatedly passed over to someone else while the abuse continues. These statements from the CTA and Eggman so clearly come from a place of ignorance. If Assemblymember Eggman so badly wants to understand what the homeschool scene is like, she is welcome to pick up her phone at her Capitol office and actually listen to the hundreds of callers she says she is getting. Many of us have been finding that we are getting routed daily to a voicemail box that is full, and that the staffers do not seem interested in listening to our concerns when they do pick up.

    We are not the problem. Clean up the public school system. They would be putting the state’s resources to much better use addressing the issues with public education rather than forming committees to profile and collect data on homeschool families. It doesn’t matter what claims are being made at present. Once formed, the committee could make any number of infringing recommendations that the state would then happily codify. We will not stand for this. Withdraw AB2926.

  7. Lisa

    Boy, this makes me mad. Because of one family, the state wants to come after homeschoolers? Really? With California ranked 42 in the nation, violence, sex and drugs in schools, and bullying, you really want to come after homeschoolers? After Jose Ines Garcia Zarate shot Kate Steinle, did the state announce that it would vet all illegal immigrants to make sure that no dangerous criminals would be allowed in? No–it offered blanket sanctuary. After Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik shot 36 people (killing 14) in December, 2015, did the state announce that it would start paying home visits to all Muslims in California to make sure this would never happen again? No. Why? Because saying all Muslims are dangerous because of these two is ridiculous and outrageous. Yet none of this logic is applied to homeschoolers now. How did homeschoolers become some sort of criminal agent?

    I had kids who went through the public school system and saw the damage done. Bullying, drug use, a near state of cold war between parents and kids in my home, anxiety over testing and grades, peer pressure, a prison like atmosphere at the school, and the cost for all kinds of stuff related to my “free, public education.” Oh yeah, the teacher who spoke of his private, marital problems with my daughter, the teacher who accessed her account during class, the teacher who ordered pizza for herself during class, the numerous teachers who got into shouting matches with students (complete with many swear words), the many papers brought home with glaring grammatical and spelling errors. . . .I could go on and on.

    No thank you. Been there, done that. Each kid has admitted to those years being a waste of time. None will attend a reunion (neither do I or my husband). Life is much smoother now that we gave our district a failing grade and started homeschooling our younger kids. I am really angry at this blanket attack on all of us. I tell you what, I want sanctuary. Sanctuary from a decision like this. And if the state does this here, where will they turn their attention next? Maybe they all should crack open a history book and read up on totalitarianism.


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