On the third Tuesday of each month we post a quick roundup of some recent academic publications and news about homeschooling, offered for your interest. These are typically university research papers, and they may have a positive, negative, or neutral outlook on home education. The title links generally point to the full text of each publication, which is often a printable pdf file. In some cases, a paid subscription may be required to read the whole article. The article abstracts or introductions below are quoted in full whenever possible, without editing.
We have five items this month: Dailey & Rosenbury (2021), Guterman (2021), Riep (2021), Tipton (2021), and Walton (2020). The first and fifth items are two more salvos in the ongoing battle among legal scholars who seek to sharply restrict parents’ rights to homeschool their children (Dailey & Rosenbury 2021) and those who seek to protect those rights (Walton 2020). The opening salvo in this current battle was fired by law professor Elizabeth Bartholet in 2019 in a paper that called for a presumptive ban on homeschooling across the United States. Although this debate follows an academic form and all these papers bristle with the usual citations and footnotes, the underlying differences here have more to do with psychology and ideology than they do with evidence and argument: they are disputes between authoritarians and libertarians, and evidence and argument are unlikely to move any of the participants.
(1) The New Parental Rights — A.C. Dailey & L.A. Rosenbury (2021)
Abstract: This Article sets forth a new model of parental rights designed to free children and families from the ideals of parent–child unity and family privacy that underlie the law’s expansive protection for parental rights. The law currently presumes that parents’ interests coincide with those of their children, creating an illusion of parent–child union that suppresses the very real ways in which children’s interests and identities, even at a young age, may depart from those of their parents. Expansive protection for parental rights also confines children to the private family, ignoring children’s broad range of interests beyond the family and thwarting calls for more robust state support of children subordinated by race and class.
The new model of parental rights presented here brings children out from under parental control and into public view. The model conceives of parental rights in relational terms, offering greater state support for the parent–child relationship, addressing the race and class biases underlying expansive parental rights, and highlighting children’s independent interests and agency. This new approach calls for the highest scrutiny of governmental action that threatens to separate parents and children, but a less strict level of scrutiny for governmental action that intrudes upon parental authority in ways that support children’s independent interests and agency. The model also strengthens the parent–child relationship by urging a radical increase in affirmative support for all children, but especially for low-income children and children of color who suffer the most under a legal regime that privatizes the costs of children’s upbringing.
This reenvisioning of parental rights has the potential to transform a broad range of laws affecting the lives of children and parents. The Article analyzes several issues of critical importance to children’s welfare: homeschooling; transgender youth medical decision making; foster care; children’s peer relationships; and the forced separation of parents and children through immigration detention, child welfare removal, and parental incarceration. By calling for greater state support of both children and families, the “new parental rights” challenges the privatization of dependency; fosters diversity of family life; and respects the independent capacities, values, beliefs, and identities of all children.
(2) Future Orientation Among Homeschooled Adolescents in Israel — O. Guterman (2021)
Abstract: Homeschooling is a form of education in which parents do not send their children to school. This phenomenon has been researched extensively from the perspective of parents. The studies that have examined homeschooling from the viewpoint of children have not, for the most part, included consideration of their future orientation. The purpose of the present research was to examine the future orientation of adolescents who were homeschooled in Israel. For this purpose, 15 homeschooled adolescents, aged 16–21, were interviewed. The interviews included questions regarding the future orientation of the respondents. The research findings indicate that most of the participants had a well-developed future orientation regarding three main spheres of what they expected their life to be: higher education, work and career, and family (future family and contact with family of origin). In addition, most of them were able to define future success from their point of view and the majority were also currently taking action to promote the future they desired.
Abridged Summary: Over the past four decades, homeschooling has steadily grown in Alberta from an unconventional approach to K–12 education to a program of choice enshrined in the Education Act. In this alternative method of education, parents are responsible for managing, delivering, and supervising their children’s education, and learning primarily takes place outside of an institutional setting. In 2019, the number of homeschooled students in Alberta (n=13,689) was more than one-third of all homeschooled students in Canada. By 2020–21, the number of homeschooled students in the province nearly doubled in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the growth in enrolment and the expansion of programs and systems of homeschooling in Alberta, public understanding remains on the fringes.[…]
The regulatory standards, student population, and development of homeschooling in Alberta should not be overlooked by decision-makers, school officials, professionals, parents, and engaged citizens. Especially, while parental choice is prioritized over public education, and the highest standards of educational quality, equity, and innovation remain top of mind.
(4) Twenty-First Century Skill Building for Homeschooled Students With Special Needs — J.M. Tipton (2021)
Abstract: Although problem-based learning (PBL) is not new, the ways in which homeschool teachers use attributes of PBL with their students with special needs is unknown. Posts were collected from 20 homeschool teachers’ blogs. After I coded 87 blog posts, results showed that homeschool teachers provided a variety of opportunities for their students to practice 21st-century skills. Specifically, they developed lessons that encouraged students to share what they learned and developed cross-disciplinary content, most often with language arts. Results may provide insights for homeschool teachers interested in more purposefully implementing PBL experiences with the purpose of teaching 21st-century skills.
(5) The Fundamental Right to Homeschool: A Historical Response to Professor Bartholet — S.E. Walton (2020)
Abstract: The fundamental right of parents to homeschool their children is under attack. Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet recently published an article that proposes to ban homeschooling with a few carefully delineated exceptions. She argues that the ban is necessary to protect children from abusive parents, fulfill children’s right to an education, and guarantee children the right to autonomy and to determine their own futures, among other things. Professor Bartholet’s arguments directly contradict Supreme Court precedent, and more critically, the historical record. While the Supreme Court has never made clear that homeschooling is a fundamental right, the historical record does. Beginning in England and continuing in the colonies and founding generation stands a deeply rooted and unbroken chain of the practice and recognition of the fundamental right and duty of parents to educate their children. Home education was the dominant form of education in England and the colonies and was the exclusive right of parents. Blackstone called the educational duty of parents the “greatest importance of any,” and under the common law third parties could never exercise the educational power over children until the parents voluntarily delegated it to them, and even then they acted “in loco parentis.” The colonies too recognized the fundamental rights of parents to educate their children, and some of them even began enforcing this parental duty by law. Home education continued as the predominant form of education through the founding, and the founders and early jurists, including James Wilson, Joseph Story, St. George Tucker, and James Kent, affirmatively recognized the fundamental right of parents to educate their children. And while many of the states and founders supported some form of public education, they never advocated for or implemented compulsory attendance laws. In fact, Thomas Jefferson expressly rejected the power of the state to force children to attend public school against the wishes of the father, noting that such action would “shock the common feelings and ideas.” Instead, public education for the founders and states was intended to complement the primary right of parents, create an educated citizenry that could protect its own liberty, and serve poor parents, who could not educate their children at home nor afford to hire private tutors, by providing a free option. Accordingly, “history and tradition” confirm that the right of parents to homeschool their children is a fundamental right that should be subject to strict scrutiny review.
What interesting homeschool news and academic research have you come across this Cygnus Term? 👩🏻🎓
❡ Explore more: If you’d like to investigate the current academic literature on homeschooling yourself, the best place to start is Google Scholar, the special academic search engine from Google. Just enter a search term or phrase of interest (“homeschool,” “unschooling,” “classical homeschooling,” “deschooling,” etc.), and Google Scholar will return a list of academic publications that mention your topic. 🔍
❡ Explore more: For a comprehensive review of homeschooling research prior to 2020, see the paper by Kunzman & Gaither that is linked in our Research & News post for July 2020. 📖
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