Over at PrawfsBlawg, they’ve been discussing this paper arguing for a state constitutional duty to "regulate homeschooling to ensure that
parents provide their children with a basic minimum education and check
rampant forms of sexism." The paper
highlights the legal distinctness of parents and children and emphasizes that parental control over children’s basic education flows from the state (rather than vice versa). States delegate power over children’s basic education to parents, and the delegation itself is necessarily subject to constitutional constraints.
Caricaturing the pro-homeschooling argument as depending upon parental "ownership" of children (naturally, no documentary evidence to back up that ridiculous claim), Northwestern University law professor Kimberly Yuracko contends that, in effect, the family is a creature of the state and that parental rights and responsibilities depend almost entirely upon state decisions, though she generously concedes that "[p]arents do have
constitutionally protected liberty interests in their relationship with their
She further argues that the regulatory regime she supports is not a matter of policy, but rather a matter of constitutionally-mandated necessity, which it would have to be since, as she concedes, virtually all the politicking on this issue follows from parental concerns. She naturally focuses on the well-organized efforts of homeschoolers (led by Michael Farris’ Home School Legal Defense Association), but I can’t imagine any effort to legislate along the lines she suggests, following the theory she offers, winning support among any but the most collectivized and complaisant parents. We have a natural intuition that our relationship with our children is natural and primary. This isn’t right-wing "Christianist" homeschool ideology; this is parenthood.
Rick Garnett, who called my attention to this piece, recommends one of his own essays as a counterbalance. I’d add an article by Yale’s Stephen Carter, "Religious Freedom As If Family Matters," which appeared in the University of Detroit-Mercy Law Review in 2000 (sorry, no link; find it at lexisnexis).