Education off the Grid: Constitutional Constraints on Homeschooling
71 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2007
Homeschooling in America is no longer a fringe phenomenon. Estimates indicate that well over one million children are currently being homeschooled. Although homeschoolers are a diverse group, the movement has come to be defined and dominated by its fundamentalist Christian majority. Many Christians who choose to homeschool do so in order to shield their children from secular influences and liberal values. In response to political pressure from this group, states are increasingly abdicating control and oversight in this realm. Modern-day homeschooling thus raises important questions concerning the obligations of states toward children raised in illiberal subgroups. Surprisingly, the legal and philosophical issues raised by homeschooling have been almost entirely ignored by scholars. This Article seeks to begin to fill this void by examining the constitutional implications of state abdication in this area. The Article relies on federal state action doctrine and state constitution education clauses to argue that states must regulate homeschooling to ensure that parents provide their children with a basic minimum education. Further, the Article argues that the Equal Protection Clause imposes limits on the degree of sexist homeschooling that states may permit. In other words, while there is an upper constitutional limit on states' ability to regulate and control children's education, there is a lower limit as well. States may not avoid this mandated minimum with constitutional impunity.
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