US State Considers Bill That Threatens Rights of Homeschoolers


Students who are homeschooled are frequently at or above the achievement levels of their public and private school peers. But those that choose this option are now being targeted by government officials under the benevolent guise of preventing child abuse.

The overreaction stems from an event in January, when Riverside County, Calif., officials found a house of horrors where 13 children were effectively imprisoned and abused by their parents. It was one of the worst cases of child abuse in recent memory.

One of the key factors here is that this family homeschooled their kids. So instead of addressing how to prevent child abuse, do-gooders — across the country in Maryland — are targeting home schools by calling for tighter regulations, specifically requiring that parents of homeschoolers submit to invasive home inspections by county officials.

MD HB 1798 was introduced in early March. It's described here by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

This bill would require all homeschool families to list the "primary location" of their homeschool program (i.e., your home), and would demand that you agree to let school representatives into your home. A huge amount of the bill details what the representative must do if he enters your home and suspects the children are abused or neglected, so it's clear this bill has really nothing to do with education.

Benevolent motives? Sure, who doesn’t want to ensure that children are not being abused? Execution? Another stomp on the Constitution.

This is blatantly unconstitutional. Under the Fourth Amendment, government officials are forbidden from coming into your house unless they have a warrant (i.e., there is evidence you have done something wrong), or there is a life-threatening emergency, or you give your consent. But if a law says you must give up the right to the privacy of your home in order to homeschool your children, that is not consent! It is raw state-sanctioned coercion. Your home belongs to you - not you AND the government.

In some places where public schools are failing, homeschooling may be the only way to ensure that children get a proper education. But bills like this put the burden on the parent to prove that they offer a loving home before they're allowed to educate their own children.

Thankfully, cases of abuse like in California are not common headlines, and undoubtedly, those cases need to be handled appropriately; but does that mean that parents who teach their children at home are not suspected of abuse and neglect? The implication of this bill suggests so.