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Archive for May, 2015

Record: Özlem Yurt and Serap Demiriz, “Effect of Home-Based Education Program on Six-Year-Old Children’s Acquisition of Scientific Concept” in International Journal of Human Sciences 11, no. 1 (2014): 1-19.

Summary: As this article is written in Turkish and I know neither the language nor anyone who does, I will limit myself in this post to reproducing the English-language abstract provided by the publisher: (more…)

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Record: Jasmine McDonald and Elaine Lopes, “How Parents Home Educate their Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder with the Support of the Schools of Isolated and Distance Education” in International Journal of Inclusive Education 18, no. 1 (2014): 1-17. [abstract here]

Summary:  McDonald completed her doctoral thesis on how parents deal with the education of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in 2010.  Lopes completed her doctoral thesis on Distance Education in Western Australia in 2009.  Here these two junior scholars combine their research to investigate the role of a distance education program in helping parents manage the education of children with an ASD.

They begin by explaining the history of the Schools of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE), a government program begun in 1918 as the Western Australian Correspondence School whose goal was to provide public instruction to students isolated from conventional schools due to geography or special needs.  This program has over the years used itinerant teachers, radio broadcasts, camp settings, and all sorts of distance education technology (audio tapes, videos, and now the internet) to reach isolated children.  While the students attending SIDE have historically been geographically isolated, the bulk of enrollments now are students with special needs that conventional schools cannot accommodate.  SIDE is thus a “school of last resort” for many. (p.3)

One group of children for whom SIDE is a resource are those diagnosed with an ASD.  McDonald and Lopes explain that an ASD diagnosis typically means that a student faces difficulties with communication, socialization, and behavior.  The clear trend over the last several decades in public education has been toward inclusion of these students into regular education, but in the last few years a small but growing literature has raised questions about this approach, as have many parents of children with an ASD diagnosis.  Some parents, reacting against the inclusive model and the lack of individualized instruction it sometimes entails, have felt forced to remove their children from institutional schooling and educate them at home. (more…)

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Record: Linda Wang, “Who Knows Best? The Appropriate Level of Judicial Scrutiny on Compulsory Education Laws Regarding Home Schooling” in Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development, 25 (Winter 2011); 413-448.

Summary: Wang, who earned her J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law, here seeks to make sense of the conflicting and hazy Constitutional principles at play in cases regarding homeschooling law and liberty.

There are two basic issues.  First is the 14th Amendment, which says that no state can deprive a person of life, liberty, or property without “due process of law.”  This is the due process clause, which has been used in the ensuing decades to do all sorts of things, from extending the bill of rights to the states to protecting rights that are not explicitly mentioned in the Amendment itself, most notably the “right to privacy.”  It is this right to privacy jurisprudence that is most important for homeschooling law.  Interestingly, it was the cases on birth control and abortion (both of which many homeschoolers renounce) that secured the right to privacy on which constitutional claims for homeschooling rights rests.  Cases like Meyer v. Nebraska, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, and Troxel v. Granville have made it clear that the right of a biological parent to direct the education of his or her child is fundamental, meaning that if a state is going to abridge that right it needs to have a compelling interest for doing so and must do so in the least invasive means possible.  This is called strict scrutiny, and it is the highest threshold possible for government infringement of individual rights.

The problem is that many, many lower court decisions have validated compulsory education laws, which infringe on parental homeschooling freedoms, at lower levels of scrutiny (often called “rational basis” or “intermediate scrutiny”).  Why?  Because the same Supreme Court that declared parenting a fundamental right has also declared on many occasions that public school laws are valid forms of “reasonable relation.”  The Supreme Court ITSELF has not applied strict scrutiny to compulsory school laws despite its own holding that parental rights are fundamental. (more…)

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