Certainly things have changed since I was there: driver education in California now requires that you take a state approved test before you can get your learner's permit. I am glad that wasn't in place when I took my California driver's test: I would never have managed to do what I did, arrive in the country and rent a condo, buy a car, get a licence, get the house furnished and everything insured in just 8 days.
However, don't despair, there are simple ways to deal with the problem. One option is to get this program dealing with driver education in California. It's a state approved course, so it meets the rules, but the difference is that you can do most of the work at home. Once you've studied this, you can get your learner's permit. Now what is the value of being able to do this at home? Well, you can do it in your own time, at your own speed. There's no need for parents to ferry you off to classes at a particular time and that all just makes life so much easier.
The second option for California driver education is to look at that program, the virtual one. This is computer based and allows you to learn safe and effective driving techniques from your own room! You can simply log on when you want to and take parts of the course. Again, the value is that you can do this when you have time to, not working to the rigid timetable of organised classes. It's also true that we all learn more when we are the only student, not being distracted by those around us.
Either or both programs will teach you in the way the law insists you must be, so that you can complete your California driver education and get your learner's permit.
After that, it's driving on the real roads to gain experience, and no one has quite worked out yet a simpler way to do that.