Advocates seek tighter state reins on homeschooling

Pointing out that it sometimes turns out badly for the kids involved, an emerging group of advocates critical of homeschooling “want stronger oversight, methods to monitor the quality of the education and ways to protect children from the dangers that can unfold behind a family’s closed doors.” One lesson of the American past — which has included long periods in which most states either banned homeschooling outright or subjected it to onerous legal restrictions — is that there’s an inherent conflict of interest when the state is allowed to regulate a substitute (home-based schooling) that competes directly with the state’s own educational enterprise. [Washington Post] More: Charlotte Allen, Weekly Standard.


  • The state does have a reasonable and compelling interest, as do all of us, to encourage an educated citizenry. Absent obvious abuse and a meeting a minimal set of reasonable life skill and socialization goals, the state should be neutral as to how those goals are met.
    Seems to me that if the state is interested in an economical education they would facilitate home schooling by furnishing materials relevant to their stated goals to homeschool parents. This seems more reasonable than funding sports programs that tend to isolate and distract students. If parents are interested in a sports career for their children they can form voluntary private sports leagues that hire professional coaches. This concept can be carried over to music, art etc… relieving the state from that expensive task.

    • Moderate nitpick: The state’s only interest is in the propagation of the state. Utterances to the contrary are just excuses to make it palatable.

      Since the parents are already paying for the school system, there is no reasonable reason to exclude them from the public school teams, or any publicly provided service. Any eligible child should be able take part ala carte. Why that isn’t already the case is question to ponder if you disagree with my nitpick.

      • It is a State issue. In VT homeschoolers can take courses at a local high school and participate in sports, band, chorus,etc. Having spent 19 years as a High School registrar in this state I have found that we have an excellent system for adding homeschooling to our other schooling options.

  • 2 sentences is not an article–what the hell?

    • As is common in blog posts, this one provides a brief preview of the article in question and then invites clicking through to the full article, in this case by clicking the words “Washington Post.”

    • First day on the World Wide Web? Welcome.

  • Hunt and Green seem awfully anxious to take actions that will pretty clearly rip apart a family without conducting much of an inquiry as to the facts. Based on a telephone call about a complete stranger, they accepted as the unvarnished truth that:

    The person they whose “interests” they were trying to “protect” was an adult
    The person’s parents were “fundamentalists”
    The parents did not want the person to pursue further education because they were “fundamentalists”
    Further education would be in this person’s best interest
    The parents were punishing this person by taking away her cell phone and laptop) because she desired additional education

    All of those things might be true. Then again, they might not be true.

    Apparently the personal experiences of Hunt and Green with religious parents and home schooling have led them to believe that the effects of religion and home schooling are always negative.

    That seems unlikely. Shades of gray are much more likely than stark black and white.

    In addition, the story has that unquestioning “plucky ‘David’ sized do-gooders versus evil-defending legal Goliath” tone to it.

  • And the inherent conflict of interests can lead to loopy child protective services inquiries and seizures.

    The left talks in terms of micro-aggressions. We should start talking in terms of micro-tyrannies.


    It would seem from actual data that a major disability for achievement on standardized measures (SAT) is attending a public high school.

    There are certain to be examples of homeschooling gone bad. Public districts can fail just as miserably, but the scale of the problem is just compounded by the number of enrolled children.

    in the St. Louis area Normandy, Riverview gardens, and Ferguson(yes, that ferguson), districts are unaccredited disasters, and have thousands of students they are dragging into life long reduced job prospects and earnings potential. And they get to keep at it merely because they are the default option offered by the authorities.

  • The prisons are full of people who went to public schools. Maybe the focus should be on fixing public schools.

  • The logic of the argument is persuasive. But to make it also honest, the standards of comparison must be the results of public education. Which basically eliminates any standards.

    So the argument is left with – we don’t want religious people raising religious children.

  • Do people realise that according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights parents have a right to choose the method of education for their children. The state needs to butt out (barring cases of abuse of course, but this is a welfare matter rather than an educational one). There is ample evidence that home schooling works extremely well, with children performing as well (or usually better) than their conventionally schooled peers.

  • If the problem is state regulation of a substitute that competes with a state enterprise, it’s odd then that private schools receive so little regulation. Under that theory, one would expect states to aggressively regulate private schools, but they are largely left to their own devices, especially outside of health and safety. It really doesn’t seem like this happens much in education.

  • Just in case the regulators are looking for some actual data [/sarc]

  • SCOTUS has long ago affirmed the right of parents to educate, or under educate, children as the case may be, according to the dictates of their religion. The Amish specifically eschew any type of high school education at all. That case was Wisconsin v. Yoder. Fundamentalist parents have the same right, whether they choose to homeschool or send their child to a private Fundamentalist school. Am I supposed to be outraged that a spoiled Fundamentalist brat was distraught over her parents taking away her cell phone and laptop?