6 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 355 (1987)
Missouri Home Education: Free at Last

handle is hein.journals/stlpl6 and id is 363 raw text is: MISSOURI HOME EDUCATION: FREE AT LAST?
The concept and practice of home education are not products of
the modern school reform movement, although home instruction is ar-
guably the most sweeping education reform undertaken by parents.
Rather, home instruction is at the root of education in America2 and
has produced many of its great men and women.' Although the fifty
states all have compulsory school attendance laws,4 the first compulsory
laws regarding education were directed to home instruction, not pub-
licly supported institutional education. Parents and masters were re-
quired to instruct their charges in religion, reading, a trade, and the
capital laws.6 Only later were provisions made for publicly supported
instruction.7 Later, colonial expansion into the wilderness, pioneer con-
ditions of the frontier, and the Indian Wars, which led to an economic
depression, all contributed to a decline in enforcement of compulsory
education laws.8
Compulsory school attendance laws were first enacted in 1852.9
Thirty states had such laws by the turn of the twentieth century,10 and
except for a period of recalcitrance in the southern states spawned by
the landmark school desegregation decision, Brown v. Board of Educa-
1. For a comprehensive examination of the evolution of state compulsory school
2. Note, Home Education in America: Parental Rights Reasserted, 49 UMKC
L. REV. 191 (1981).
3. Among the notables schooled at home were George Washington, James
Madison, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D.
Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, Mercy Warren, Martha Washington, George Patton, Doug-
las MacArthur, Mark Twain, Pearl S. Buck, Andrew Carnegie, Benjamin Franklin,
Patrick Henry and Thomas Edison. J. WHITEAD & W. BIRD, HOME EDUCATION AND
4. Note, Home Education v. Compulsory Attendance Laws: Whose Kids Are
They Anyway?, 24 WASHBURN L. J. 274, 278 (1985).
5. L. KOTIN & W. AIKMAN, supra note 1, at 11.
6. Id. As Kotin and Aikman note, the primary purpose of education, as it was
perceived by the colonists, was the study of religion. Ironically, parents such as the
plaintiffs in Ellis have been persecuted for conduct considered a parental duty in a
previous generation. Cf. 1 W. BLACKSTONE, COMMENTARIES 450-52 (regarding parental
duty to educate the child appropriately for expected station in life).
7. L. KOTIN & W. AIKMAN, supra note 1, at 17-20.
8. Id. at 20-23.
9. Id. at 25.
10. Id. at 25-26.

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