The Home School Court Report
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January / February 2004

Can Judicial Tyranny Be Stopped?

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The difference made by "little things"

Impact of the Widows Curriculum Scholarship Fund

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Critics use a different tactic

It must be tough being a home-school critic these days. You can't complain about homeschool academics, and now you can't complain about homeschool socialization. But the critics have found another way to attack homeschoolers—by trying to link homeschooling with the horrible crime of child abuse.

On Thursday, November 6, 2003, the Human Resources Subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee held a hearing to examine "a recent failure to protect child safety." The committee was looking into a child abuse case in New Jersey involving the alleged starvation of a family's adopted children, and the subsequent dismissal of social workers who had been investigating the family but missed the alleged abuse 38 times. The family was ostensibly homeschooling.

Carla Katz, president of Communications Workers of America, a union representing social workers in New Jersey, testified:

Homeschooling creates gaps. Nearly 20% of all abuse cases are reported by schools. When children are outside the school system, extra protections are critical. There are no homeschooling regulations that would require homeschooled children to see anyone from the public education system. There is no cross-referencing with the Department of Education to look for children who are in the "system" but have not been seen by anyone.

Prior to this hearing, Home School Legal Defense Association contacted the chairman of the committee, Representative Wally Herger of California,to explain why new homeschool regulations were not needed since this family was not able to use homeschooling as a shield to protect itself from being visited by social services. The hearing appropriately focused on the billions of federal tax dollars that are supposed to be used to find genuine cases of child abuse but that did not appear to help in this case.

The trend of painting homeschoolers as child abusers recently surfaced on CBS Evening News when Dan Rather ran a two-part series on October 13 and 14 entitled "A Dark Side to Home Schooling" and "Home Schooling Nightmares." After thousands of homeschooling families contacted CBS to object to the network's biased "journalism," one of the program sponsors even pulled its advertising from the October 14 Evening News program. (See for the story and a list of links to articles offering an articulate defense of home education.)

Many responsible parents across the country are concerned that opponents of homeschooling are trying to create a negative impression of homeschooling in order to increase regulations. HSLDA sees these efforts as a significant threat to the educational freedom of the estimated 2 million homeschooled students in the United States.

HSLDA's National Center for Home Education will continue monitoring homeschool critics' use of this tactic. We believe that true child abusers should be punished to the full extent of the law, but that innocent families should not lose their freedom based on wrong generalizations. For the latest on homeschooling in the news, visit our website at