Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection

71 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2019 Last revised: 11 Jul 2019

Date Written: June 17, 2019

Abstract

This article describes the rapidly growing homeschooling phenomenon, and the threat it poses to children and society. Homeschooling activists have in recent decades largely succeeded in their deregulation campaign, overwhelming legislators with aggressive advocacy. As a result, parents can now keep their children at home in the name of homeschooling free from any real scrutiny as to whether or how they are educating their children. Many homeschool precisely because they want to isolate their children from ideas and values central to our democracy. Many promote racial segregation and female subservience. Many question science. Many are determined to keep their children from exposure to views that might enable autonomous choice about their future lives. Abusive parents can keep their children at home free from the risk that teachers will see the signs of abuse and report them to child protection services. Some homeschool precisely for this reason. This article calls for a radical transformation in the homeschooling regime, and a related rethinking of child rights and reframing of constitutional doctrine. It recommends a presumptive ban on homeschooling, with the burden on parents to demonstrate justification for permission to homeschool.

Suggested Citation

Bartholet, Elizabeth, Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection (June 17, 2019). Forthcoming, Arizona Law Review, Vol. 62, No. 1, 2020 ; Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 19-23. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3391331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3391331

Elizabeth Bartholet (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Hauser Hall 422
1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
(617) 495-3128 (Phone)
(617) 496-4947 (Fax)

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