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Confrontation and Cooperation: The Complicated Relationship Between Homeschoolers and Public Schools

Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 88, No. 3

Donna M. Johnson, Dakota Wesleyan University


Throughout the modern homeschool movement that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, homeschooling families have clashed with public institutions. Early homeschoolers joined together to win favorable legislative and judicial outcomes that resulted in the legalization of homeschooling in all 50 states by the early 1990s. Homeschoolers continue to face opposition from professional educators and the organizations that advocate for them. But although some interactions between homeschoolers and public schools are confrontational, in other cases, public school districts offer a variety of resources and opportunities to home educators. Some homeschoolers accept public school offerings through charter or online schools that allow children to remain at home while completing public school curricula. Others have gained the right to access public school extracurricular programs including high school sports. Not all homeschoolers agree on the merit of participating in programs offered by public schools. It is likely that instances of both cooperation and confrontation will continue.


Donna M. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Education at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, where she teaches elementary and special education courses and supervises student teachers during their professional semester. Dr. Johnson did her undergraduate study at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota; her master's work in special education at Minnesota State University, Mankato; and earned her doctoral degree from The University of South Dakota. She began her teaching career in a fourth-grade classroom with subsequent experiences in public, private, and home education. Dr. Johnson currently serves on the board of the South Dakota Learning Disabilities Association and on the Children's Book Award Committee for the South Dakota Library Association. She writes and speaks about strategies that support struggling readers.