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Rhode Island
Rhode Island

December 8, 2006

Official’s Attempt to Impose State Content Standards Rebuffed

A Warwick official shocked homeschool families this fall by telling them that their homeschool programs would not be approved until they could prove they included the state content standards (called “grade level expectations,” or “GLEs”) for each required subject.

Home School Legal Defense Association attorney Scott Woodruff swiftly responded to this outrageous attempt to supplant parents as the directors of their children’s education. He called the official and explained that this demand was unlawful and advised Warwick homeschool families to disregard it. The official threatened families with truancy, but many parents refused to submit to this illegitimate demand.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states have an interest in making education laws that lead to children becoming literate and self-sufficient. However, the child is not “the mere creature of the state,” as the U.S. Supreme Court has stated. The Massachusetts Supreme Court held that the purpose of education laws is that all children shall become educated, not that they shall be educated in any particular way. Requiring parents to teach state-mandated content would violate a basic right to liberty guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

The Warwick official refused to back down, but no families were prosecuted. Meanwhile, the official sought guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Education and the town’s homeschool policy was brought up for revision.

The Department of Education has now confirmed what Woodruff said: homeschoolers cannot be mandated to include the state GLEs in their homeschool program. The town’s policy will soon be revised to make this clear, and to make other improvements.

The freedom of parents to determine what their children shall be taught is safe again in Warwick, Rhode Island.