UPDATE: My article was accepted for publication and will appear in the spring. More details to come.

In the United States, homeschooling families generally are able to educate their children freely. There have been recent cases where judges have ordered children into public schools (see here and here), but these cases are the exception and not the rule. Or are they? What is the current and future state of homeschooling in the United States?

Policy makers in the United States seem to be struggling over the question of how homeschooling can fit within an educational edifice that some feel should be controlled by the state. Some want to place significant restrictions on homeschoolers. Others argue for little to no regulation. Both camps, however, are fighting the larger doctrinal war: trying to reconcile individual rights to school choice with the desire of the state to control education.

Another such battle is raging across the Atlantic on the European continent. Germany, a fledgling democracy in the long view of history, is coming to terms with laws left over from the Nazi regime that remain on the books today. One such law is for mandatory attendance in a public school. In effect, the law bans homeschooling, and does so on rather disingenuous terms. Explained by modern government officials as an effort to create a homogeneous society (never a good sign for a democracy), the German policy against homeschooling reflects more of its nationalistic past than a democratic future.

In the paper below, I explain the historical development of homeschooling in the United States and Germany, and detail the modern situation for homeschoolers in each country. Then, I speak more broadly about the policy aims in each country leading to the divergent conclusions reached by the two countries. Finally, I offer some thoughts about how close the United States and Germany actually are in their homeschooling policies and how one country’s policy could quickly develop (or decline) into the other’s.

The Reich, the Republic, and the Rights of Parents: Homeschooling in Germany and the United States

The SSRN version is here.

(On a related note, please pray for two ardent defenders of homeschooling rights in the U.S. and abroad.) (HT: Elizabeth Foss)

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