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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Teaching horseshoeing shouldn’t be illegal

Bob Smith is fighting for the right to teach horseshoeing to high school dropouts. Smith and would-be student Esteban Narez are suing the state of California, which bars trade schools such as Pacific Coast Horseshoe School from admitting students who haven’t completed high school or a state-approved equivalent. Narez, a ranch hand, didn’t complete high school.

“Just like publishing a how-to book or uploading an instructional video to YouTube is protected by the First Amendment, so is teaching,” said Keith Diggs, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represents Smith and Narez.

A 2009 state law was aimed at “diploma mills” that persuade poorly qualified students to take out student loans they won’t be able to repay. PCHS does not accept student loans. However, the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education has threatened to shut down the school if it admits students like Narez.

“You don’t have to know algebra to shoe a horse,” said Smith. “You don’t have to know how to read a novel to shoe a horse. . . . It makes no sense to require a high school education to learn a trade that was around for centuries before the printing press came along.”

According to the Farrier Guide, the average full-time farrier (horse shoer) earned $92,623 per year in 2012, while the average part-timer earned $21,153. PayScale estimates median pay is $55,00.

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