By Doherty, Brian
Reason , Vol. 36, No. 8
PENNSYLVANIA'S Religious Freedom Protection Act says state agencies may not "compel conduct or expression which violates a specific tenet of a person's religious faith." Four families--the Newborn, Hankin, Prevish, and Combs clans--insist that the state's homeschooling regulations do just that. As Darrell Combs, a minister, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Nowhere in scripture is authority for education given over to ... government.... The Bible calls us directly to educate our children."
The families claim stone of the state's requirements for homeschoolers--including filing affidavits with the school district outlining their curriculum and goals, filing daily logs of what they teach their kids, and having an outsider evaluate their teaching and interview the kids--interfere with their religious duties toward their children. They say the regulations violate due process, because the enforcers local school superintendents stand to gain financially by sending kids back to the public schools. (More students mean more funding.)
They also argue that the rules violate the First Amendment. Parents have to file an affidavit stating their course objectives before they can begin instructing their children. This, the families claim, means they have to get the state's approval before engaging in the speech act of teaching their own kids.
The suits are being argued with the help of the Home School Legal Defense Association, which lobbies for home schoolers and assists them in court. …