Georgia Law and Home Schooling and Legislation Against Planned Parenthood

In this edition of the magazine's regular "Profiles" feature examines a homesteader charged with home schooling her children and Katherine Hepburn's promoting education about the legislation against planned parenthood.

| November/December 1982

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    Ms. Hepburn, whose mother helped Margaret Sanger found the organization which is today the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, recently joined forces with the nonprofit health service to help promote its Public Impact Program.

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In celebration of little-known MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type folks from all over, including a homesteader who goes up against the law over home schooling her children and Katherine Hepburn's encouragement to the public to stand up against the legislation against planned parenthood. 


In September of 1979, Patty Blankenship was teaching her two children—10-year-old Patrick and 14-year-old Mark—at home . . . when DeKalb County, Georgia authorities arrested her and charged her with failure to comply with the state's compulsory school attendance law.

Patty (who faced a possible $100 fine and five days in jail for each day her sons had heen "kept out of school") was soon released on $1,000 bond and warned that the county would take custody of Mark and Patrick unless she enrolled the boys immediately. That threat forced the Blank: family to go into hiding until their

October 1979 trial . . . which ended in victory when Magistrate Hopkins Kidd threw the case out of court, citing the Fifth Amendment and ruling that Mark and Patrick—the prosecution's only witness—should not be compelled to give testimony that might incriminate them. New legal proceedings were promptly started, however, and Patty and her lawyer had to pool their efforts to obtain a restraining order to keep county officials from taking custody of her sons.

When she was put on trial again in March 1980, Ms. Blankenship testified that she was in complete compliance with Georgia's compulsory school attendance law—which mandates that all children between the ages of 7 and 16 attend either a public or a private school—since the piece of legislation doesn't define what constitutes a private school. After four days the case ended in a mistrial when the jury failed to reach a verdict . . . leaving the county with the option of dropping the charges or calling for a retrial at a later date. But although officials declined to say whether or not they would pursue litigation, there was some speculation that—because the state was beginning appear vindictive rather than conscientious—authorities had opted not to take further legal action.

Still, Patty would like to see the repeal of Georgia's compulsory school attendance law which she considers to be in violation of First Amendment rights. "It's a question of who should make the final decision about child's educational needs . . . the parents or the state," she says. "I contend that I have the full right and responsibility to choose what's best for my boys, and I believe that it's best to teach them at home." (For an update on Patty's activities in home education, write Patty Blankenship, Dept. TMEN, Roswell, Georgia. And, for more details on this approach to learning, see MOTHER EARTH NEWS issue 64's Plowboy Interview with movement leader John Holt, turn to page 48 in this issue for information on ordering back issues.)—JV. 

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