Here is the story as I testified in Jan. 2008. There is a Santa Cruz County Math Contest for grades 5-8. It is open and free to all students, public, private, or homeschooled. There is an individual and team competition. When my older daughter was in 5th grade at the local public school, I asked the school to let her sign up for the contest. Neither the principal nor her teacher had any interest in it, and they refused. I also tried to get a couple of her classmates interested, but neither them nor their parents were interested.
I called the contest organizers, and they explained that they require school sponsorship of students because they want the school to supply a teacher to help proctor and grade the tests. This explained why the school would not enroll my daughter in the test -- they did not have a teacher willing to help proctor the test on a Saturday. I asked whether it would be sufficient for me to help proctor the test. They said yes, so I volunteered.
This solved the problem of getting my daughter into the individual competition, but she needed at least one teammate to qualify for the team competition. I tried to get a couple of her classmates, but failed. So I signed up my younger daughter also. She enjoys math very much, as was at about a 5th grade level. They both entered the contest and did well, but did not win any prizes. They enjoyed the experience, and had no complaints about it.
I am not sure what is so incriminating about this story. I give you the judges' own words, so that you can decide for yourself.
Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph's judgment against me said:
He does not understand how it makes them feel when he proposes that one enter a contest that she is unqualified because of her age or grade level to enter and she knows it, but Dad insists that she do it anyway.A couple of years later, Judge Heather D. Morse wrote:
experiences being adduced into evidence, such as enrolling them in a math test which was reportedly way above their abilitiesNo one ever said that my kids felt bad, or were overwhelmed by the difficulty, or anything like that. Joseph and Morse just made that stuff up. If that were really the complaint, they would have brought up the time that took my 5th grade daughter to take the Cabrillo College placement exam. That was 7 grades above her grade level. I guess that there was no complaint about that because it had the written approval of her school principal, and the approval of my ex-wife.
I can tell from Dissomaster hearings that Joseph and Morse each have an understanding of math that is about at a 5th grade level. Math is very scary to them, and they are insecure about it. I think that it was very unsettling to them that I had taught my girls math that had already passed them up in skill.
It was also unsettling that I was willing to circumvent the school to get my kids into this math contest. Judges have a very authoritarian mindset, and they view teaching as something that ought to be under the supervision of a government official. The contest was run by county government officials, so I did not think that would be a problem, but apparently it was.
In all the court hearings, no one ever found any example of me violating any law, doing anything unsafe, taking drugs, or doing anything other than what a model parent would do. This math contest story was the closest thing to an example of me violating some sort of rule that I was supposed to follow. That is, I bent the rule that says that the school is supposed to sponsor the student, and that my younger daughter was not yet in 5th grade.
Judge Morse also once said that a psychotherapist should decide whether my kid goes surfing. I disagree, obviously. I wonder what she would say about Tiger moms and other parents who do things far beyond anything I have done.