Court backs private schools’ rights to operate without undue state interference
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision recently that said California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order closing both public and private schools before the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year was wrong.
As Reason’s J.D. Tuccille writes, the court said Newsom overstepped his bounds when ordering private schools to close their doors. The decision, Tuccille believes, may convince even more parents to choose one of the many flavors or private and alternative education to the public school model:
[The court ruled] “California’s forced closure of their private schools implicates a right that has long been considered fundamental under the applicable caselaw—the right of parents to control their children’s education and to choose their children’s educational forum.”
California has since rescinded the school closure order, but the court issued its decision anyway, citing the state’s history of “moving the goalposts” as evidence that it couldn’t be trusted to refrain from imposing strictures in the future. Renewed mask requirements in Los Angeles County on even the vaccinated and mutterings about reimposing restrictions show that the court’s concerns are justified.
So, the Ninth Circuit decision reaffirms the freedom of private alternatives to public schools to offer options that might be at odds with the preferences of public officials—or with the policies of other private institutions. Private schools, microschools, learning pods, and homeschoolers retain their ability to cater to different styles, needs, risk-tolerances, and philosophies, as they should in a diverse and at least nominally free society that respects individual choice.
Make no mistake: the public school model will endure, and remain the primary choice for most parents and kids. But for those who seek an alternative…let them make those choices. According to Census data, that’s exactly what more people have been doing.