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The Frightening Power of the Home-Schooling Lobby

In the fall of 2003, police in New Jersey received a call from a concerned neighbor who’d found a young man rummaging in her garbage, looking for food. He was 19 years old but was 4 feet tall and weighed just 45 pounds. Investigators soon learned that the young man’s three younger brothers were also severely malnourished.

The family was known to social workers, but the children were being home-schooled and thus were cut off from the one place where their condition could have gotten daily scrutiny—a classroom.  

After the story of the emaciated boys appeared in national newspapers, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg was moved to introduce new legislation. “My question was: How does someone fall off the face of the earth so that no one knows they exist? I was told it was because he was home-schooled,” she said.