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Volume 25 • Number 1

January 2011



The Prima Facie Case against Homeschooling

by Randall Curren and J. C. Blokhuis

Until recently, it was widely assumed in societies with long-established, publicly funded school systems that school attendance served the interests of children, society, and parents alike. In the United States and other common-law jurisdictions, safeguarding and promoting the independent welfare and developmental interests of every child was a public responsibility under the parens patriae doctrine. Compulsory schooling laws enacted under parens patriae authority required all persons having care and control of a child to share their custodial authority with publicly certified teachers for limited periods of time. By compelling all parents to send their children to school, the state ensured that all children had access to instruction and opportunities for social, economic, and civic participation beyond what their parents alone could provide. Parents were incidentally freer to manage the competing demands of domestic life and paid employment, and the enforcement of child labor laws was greatly facilitated by efforts to ensure school attendance. While compulsory schooling laws imposed obvious limits on the custodial authority of all parents for the sake of all children, they were rarely challenged on that basis. Not so today.

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Public Affairs Quarterly is published by the University of Illinois Press on behalf of North American Philosophical Publications.

ISSN: 2152-0542