Apr 21 , 2020
In a shocking essay for Harvard Magazine, a professor of law and director of Harvard Law School’s child advocacy legal clinic, claims homeschooling is a threat to children’s rights, a method of promoting white supremacy, and a drain on democratic society — and even goes so far as to suggest a national “presumptive ban” on the practice.
Harvard is playing host to a “homeschooling summit,” slated to take place (at least digitally) June 18-19, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation. But Harvard’s concern isn’t so much whether homeschooling is a viable, cost-effective, and comfortable method of education for many Americans, but rather whether homeschooling is (and homeschooled children are) a ticking time bomb.
The summit brings together a number of “experts” from across the spectrum to discuss the “problems of educational deprivation and child maltreatment that too often occur under the guise of homeschooling, in a legal environment of minimal or no oversight.”
Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet is leading the charge against those who actively resist public schools and she believes that the generation currently being homeschooled is an eventual, if not active, breeding ground for racism, sexism, and isolationism.
“Many homeschool precisely because they want to isolate their children from ideas and values central to public education and to our democracy. Many promote racial segregation and female subservience. Many question science. Many are determined to keep their children from exposure to views that might enable autonomous choice about their future lives,” she claims.
In the essay for Harvard Magazine, Bartholet goes one step further, arguing not just that homeschooling is, itself, problematic, but that it should be snuffed out as a practice by the heavy hand of American government.
“Homeschooling, she says, not only violates children’s right to a ‘meaningful education’ and their right to be protected from potential child abuse, but may keep them from contributing positively to a democratic society,” the article’s author reports.
“We have an essentially unregulated regime in the area of homeschooling,” Bartholet claims in the piece. Although every state has basic educational standards (that most homeschooling families not only meet but exceed), she believes that “if you look at the legal regime governing homeschooling, there are very few requirements that parents do anything.”
And her assumption, of course, is not that homeschoolers represent a wide swath of American families, but are, instead, largely uneducated themselves and looking to keep their children in the dark: “That means, effectively, that people can homeschool who’ve never gone to school themselves, who don’t read or write themselves.”
Worse still, Bartholet seems to argue, it’s possible these homeschoolers are…religious.
“[S]urveys of homeschoolers show that a majority of such families (by some estimates, up to 90 percent) are driven by conservative Christian beliefs, and seek to remove their children from mainstream culture,” Harvard Magazine warns. “Bartholet notes that some of these parents are ‘extreme religious ideologues’ who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy.”
No doubt Bartholet believes that all religious ideologies are somewhat suspect.
Public schools, which can be breeding grounds of inefficiency, and often struggle to educate children on an individual level, Bartholet says, are places of miracles. Children who attend public school “grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.”
The central argument seems to be that children should be wards of the state, and that the state — not individual parents — should be charged with deciding what is best.
There is likely reason for concern, at least as far as the liberal educational establishment is concerned. The coronavirus lockdowns have exposed millions of parents not just to the concept of homeschooling, but to the curriculum of public schools — and perhaps in ways that might make them think twice about returning their children to a government-run educational system.