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A federal appeals court rejected the contention of homeschoolers in Arkansas that a state law regulating homeschooling violated their constitutional right to religious freedom. The court concluded that the state had a "compelling interest" in the education of its citizens, and that such an interest outweighed the alleged religious convictions of homeschooling parents, provided that the state employed "the least restrictive means" of accomplishing its compelling interest. The court observed that the only restriction imposed by the state of Arkansas on homeschoolers was the requirement that their children take standardized achievement tests periodically. This limitation, concluded the court, was far less burdensome than other state-imposed limitations that had been upheld by the courts in other states, and was clearly the "least restrictive means" of assuring that the state's compelling interest in the education of its citizens was being accomplished. The court quoted from a 1976 decision of the United States Supreme Court: "This Court has repeatedly stressed that while parents have a constitutional right to send their children to private schools and a constitutional right to select private schools that offer specialized instruction, they have no constitutional right to provide their children with private school education unfettered by reasonable government regulation …. Indeed, [this Court] has expressly acknowledged `the power of the State reasonably to regulate all schools, to inspect, supervise and examine them, their teachers and pupils,'" Murphy v. State of Arkansas, 852 F.2d 1039 (8th Cir. 1988).

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Posted: January 2, 1989



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