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Poll: Homeschooling a constitutional right

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–More than eight in 10 Americans were at odds with a California appeals court that ruled in February that parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children, according to just-released data from LifeWay Research.

It seems the California appeals court now agrees. In a stunning move Aug. 8, a three-judge panel of the court reversed itself, saying the state legislature has implicitly accepted homeschooling as legal. “We … conclude that California statutes permit homeschooling as a species of private school education,” the justices wrote in their unanimous decision.

LifeWay Research, in an April telephone survey, found that 86 percent of the respondents agreed that, “Parents have a constitutional right to homeschool their children.”

“The California appeals court shocked the nation with its ruling in February,” said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research. “We decided, as part of a broad survey of more than 1,200 adult Americans, to get their reaction and found that 61 percent strongly agreed that the Constitution guarantees the right of parents to homeschool, and another 25 percent agreed somewhat.” Eight percent somewhat disagreed, 5 percent disagreed strongly and 2 percent did not know, Stetzer reported. “Americans appear to believe that parents, not the government, should decide whether or not they should homeschool.”

Concerning whether homeschooling provides adequate socialization and connection to the broader society — issues raised in the original California ruling — LifeWay Research polling found that 54 percent of respondents agreed, somewhat or strongly, that “children who are homeschooled often lack social skills.”

“As is the case with polling research, we are not asking if something is true but rather what people believe,” Stetzer said. “And, it is important to note that Americans do believe that schooling at home leads to issues with social skills -– and this is a perception that homeschooling families need to overcome.”

LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, conducted the telephone survey April 10-12 among a representative sample of American adults. The sample size of 1,201 provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +2.9 percent.
Rob Phillips is director of communications for LifeWay Christian Resources.

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