The Rise of Homeschooling Regulation in the Era of School Choice: Legislative and Judicial Trends, 1972–2009

Linda A. Renzulli, Regina E. Werum, Anne Kathrin Kronberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Over the past four decades, states have increasingly regulated the practice of homeschooling. It is unclear, however, what initial conditions prompt states to regulate and whether states use the legislative or judicial system to do so. Using event history analyses, we identify how state-level political dynamics, social movement mobilization, and educational policies have shaped the timing of pertinent regulatory efforts by courts and state legislatures. Interestingly, predicting the timing of initial government court successes regarding homeschooling regulation is a different story from the one about the conditions that facilitate early adoption of homeschooling legislation. We show that homeschooling legislation reflects state-level educational, diffusion, and social movement dynamics. In contrast, early regulation via the courts is primarily determined by diffusion, and not by educational or social movement dynamics. Courts are both leading and lagging indicators of homeschooling regulation, because courts react to legislation and vice versa. In contrast, homeschooling legislation tends to be purely a lagging indicator, enacted largely in response to court decisions and in light of highly contentious school-choice and accountability-related policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-322
Number of pages26
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • courts
  • education policy
  • homeschooling
  • legislation
  • mobilization
  • school choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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