This post briefly reviews Brian D. Schwartz, The Law of Homeschooling (Dayton: Education Law Assn., 2008) [ordering info here]
Let me begin by saying that I have not read this book. When I was writing the legal chapter in my own book on homeschooling I looked at the older edition of this text (published in 1994) and wasn’t very impressed. Back then the best book on homeschool law was far and away Rutherford Institute founder John W. Whitehead’s Home Education: Rights and Reasons.
This new edition is only 74 pages and costs $35. I didn’t want to spend that, so I’m relying here on a good review of the book by Theresa Willingham, published in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of School Choice. [unfortunately unavailable online]
Willingham finds the monograph “readable and fairly informative,” useful perhaps as a general reference guide. It begins with standard introductory information about homeschooling and a brief historical orientation to important court cases. Subsequent chapters deal with the state statues and regulations, with public school/homeschool relations, and with special education.
Willingham finds the information compiled here “for the most part accurate,” though when she examines the details more closely, she finds errors. For example, the book states that Florida requires homeschoolers to “attend homeschool regularly.” Willingham cites the Florida Dept. of Education’s own FAQs on their website, which state that “there are no specific hourly attendance requirements for students in a home education program.”
She gives a few other examples of minor discrepancies between actual state law and what the book presents. Whence these minor discrepancies? Well, if you look at the endnotes in the book you find that much of the legal information Schwartz has compiled was lifted right off of the Home School Legal Defense Association’s website. Willingham moralizes,
It’s disconcerting that the author relied on, and accepted as accurate, information found on another law firm’s Web site in a book ostensibly designed to provide ‘detailed information’… [the book should] have been developed via firsthand knowledge and research based on primary resources like state departments of education Web sites instead of from unverified third-party Web sites.
Now it’s clear why I didn’t bother buying this book. Why pay for information you can get free on HSLDA’s website? If you want a more accurate summary of state statutues than that provided by HSLDA, Robert Kunzman has a terriffic resource, also free, available here. He did what Willingham recommends–carefully poring over every state law himself rather than simply reproducing what others had done before.