Self-Reliant Populism

Published February 21, 2011

Illinois and Missouri are among the 10 states that do not oblige home educators to register with the state, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association. Six states impose a high degree of regulation on home schooling, even to the point of prescribing curricula. The majority of states have moderate regulations, requiring parents to take such steps as notifying the authorities and reporting test scores.

Why was there an outcry over a proposal to require home-schooling parents in Illinois simply to register their children with the state (“Illinois tables home-school measure,” Feb. 16)? The brief answer is that parents have fought many battles to secure the right (once almost universally denied) to teach their children at home, and any state action opening the door to progressively more severe control will bring the home-school community out in force. In 1994, an apparent bid to subject home educators to certification requirements under federal law evoked protest calls so numerous as to jam and shut down congressional switchboards.

The message is clear: Home-schoolers, who have every reason to be proud of the achievements of their children, will fight fiercely to safeguard their parental rights. Theirs is a populist movement that inspires hope for the future of American self-reliance.

Robert Holland • Chicago The Heartland Institute