Purpose of the Study. This paper is a narrative of various activities in the American home schooling movement focusing on the period from the 1970s to the present. It demonstrates how both alternative school advocates and “religious right” groups participate in the movement. It relates how cultural trends, court actions, laws, and popular spokesmen have made home instruction a visible national phenomenon.
Procedure. Court decisions in the regional reporter system, especially those listed in the National Organization on Legal Problems in Education’s Cases on Home Instructionwere consulted. Recent state laws regulating home education were noted. Books and periodicals on the subject were found and analyzed. Interviews with both school officials and parents who teach their children at home were conducted.
Findings. Home instruction has come into conflict with school attendance laws ever since those laws began to be seriously enforced in the 1890s. Home schooling became a discernible movement in the 1970s and eighties as an alternative to the perceived social and academic problems of conventional schooling. Alternative schools and non-accredited fundamentalist schools paved the way for home instruction in the 1960s and seventies. John Holt and Raymond Moore successfully advocated home study during the seventies and eighties. Most available sources are sympathetic to home study although some court decisions deny the legitimacy of the practice. Texas is a current battleground for recognition of home schooling.
Conclusions. Growing interest in home instruction is forcing a redefinition of compulsory education requirements in the United States. Religious fundamentalists, in particular, make up much of the movement’s current strength. Most states officially permit home education under certain conditions. Home schooling offers the prospect of ongoing litigation pitting the modern regulatory state against the individual choices of do-it-yourself parents.