November 18, 2003

HSLDA Answers New York Times Editorial

In a November 15 editorial The New York Times argued that homeschooling enables families to hide from government officials. The paper used the tragic situation of the Jackson family in New Jersey to make its case. The New York Times failed to mention that the Jackson family had been visited 38 times by social services and that nine social workers had resigned due to the obvious negligence. Below is a response from HSLDA to the charges made by the New York Times.

To the Editor,

The recent editorial 'Make Home Schooling Safe for Children' called for increasing the regulation of homeschools because homeschool families may be hiding their children from government officials in order to abuse them. The suggestion that the New Jersey family at issue was not discovered because they were homeschooled is factually incorrect. They were a foster family. They had adopted children. Both of these activities normally require home visits. Moreover, this family had 38 social worker visits in the past five years. How can anyone seriously suggest that this family successfully hid from social workers because of homeschooling? Nine employees of New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Services were fired for missing what should have been obvious. This case is not about homeschooling. If anything, it is about the failure of child protective services.

It is unfair to take, as the Times did, a sensational case involving an alleged homeschool family and imply that many other homeschool families are likely to be abusing their children as well. Unfortunately, an editorial like this plants a seed in the public's mind that there is a link between home education and child abuse. Consequently, some people might actually believe it and use the anonymous tip procedures available to report homeschool families for abuse and neglect without any factual basis for doing so. Child Protective Services are obligated to follow-up these reports and homeschool families will face unwarranted harassment. This already happens all too frequently to families all across America. More importantly, real abuse will be missed because the system may be clogged with false reports.

Homeschooling meets the educational needs of 2 million children and is the safest environment to teach children to become mature productive adults. It deserves fairer treatment.


J. Michael Smith
President, Home School Legal Defense Association

 Other Resources

New York Times Editorial - Make Home Schooling Safe for Children Nov-15-2003