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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article lays out the constitutional bases for and limits of state regulation of private schools; describes the current regulatory framework; and considers how the debate over private-school oversight takes place within a broader discussion occurring in the realms of political theory and moral philosophy. Under the US Constitution, though state regulation cannot be arbitrary or unduly aggressive, so as to effectively prohibit private schooling, the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that reasonable regulation is beyond question constitutional. Even so, the recent trend of legislative activity at the state level has been to deregulate private schooling in the name of parental rights and religious freedom—a trend, this article argues, that poorly serves the best interests of the child and the welfare of a democratic polity.

Keywords: compulsory schooling, school regulation, educational neglect, homeschooling, private school, parents’ rights, children’s rights

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