Education

No Free Thought: Harvard Prof Calls for Homeschooling Ban

She voices the not-so-hushed opinion among leftists that Christians are dangerous.

Louis DeBroux · Apr. 22, 2020

With the Wuhan coronavirus sending nearly all of America’s 56 million children home for school, progressives are terrified that parents might ultimately realize homeschooling is a better option than many of our failing public schools.

This was evident in a recent article in Harvard Magazine regarding the supposed “dangers” of homeschooling. The author, Erin O'Donnell, notes that homeschooling is rapidly increasing, with 3-4% of America’s school children now educated at home unrelated to school closures.

She quotes extensively from Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard public-interest professor of law and faculty director of the Law School’s Child Advocacy Program. Bartholet sees “risks for children — and society — in homeschooling,” and she recommends a presumptive ban on homeschooling. In other words, parents must petition government for the “privilege” of educating their own children and prove a valid need to do so.

Why? Because homeschooling, claims Bartholet, violates children’s right to a “meaningful education” and protection from potential child abuse. Furthermore, Bartholet claims homeschooling damages our democratic society because “a majority of such families … are driven by conservative Christian beliefs, and seek to remove their children from mainstream culture.” Worse, she hyperventilates, many are “extreme religious ideologues” who “question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy.”

She continues, “It’s also important that children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.”

The lack of self-awareness is actually rather impressive. Bartholet is actively campaigning for government restrictions so that children will not be exposed to “other people’s viewpoints” — particularly conservative Christianity — simply because she finds them offensive. Yet she does so in the name of “tolerance” and “inclusiveness.”

Her accusations are made as statements of fact, but she offers no supporting evidence. Exposed to the light of truth, her assertions are laughable.

As for diversity, of the nearly two million homeschooled children in America, 8% are black and 25% are Hispanic. The real problem for Bartholet and her fellow travelers is that two-thirds are Christian, and that is unacceptable to progressives. They don’t think parents should have the right, for example, to opt their children out of being aggressively indoctrinated in deviant and dangerous sexual practices.

Protection from child abuse? According to the Department of Education, during the 2017-2018 school year, a staggering 962,300 violent incidents occurred in American public schools, along with 476,100 nonviolent incidents (i.e., bullying and threats of violence). In fact, protecting children from this very kind of abuse is a major reason parents give for homeschooling. Nationwide, there are literally hundreds of lawsuits filed because public schools ignored not only bullying but rape, sexual assault, blackmail, and severe physical injuries. Many of these poor children committed suicide to escape their tormentors. As it turns out, legally homeschooled children are 40% less likely to die by child abuse or neglect than the national average.

Question science? What science? Is she claiming homeschool parents teach their children the Earth is flat, or that gravity is a myth? Or is she just upset that homeschool parents tend to teach their children that there are two sexes, not 57, and that sex is genetically determined rather than something you “feel”?

Subpar education? America per-student spending is near the top globally, yet our academic achievement is mediocre at best. One-third of Baltimore’s public schools had not a single student that read at grade level. California is America’s most populous state but is ranked among the worst educationally.

Yet on average, homeschooled children far outpace their peers in public school, scoring 15-30% higher on standardized tests (regardless of parents’ education level or income), higher on SAT/ACT tests, and go to college and graduate at higher rates. According to PJ Media’s Paula Bolyard, they also score higher on measures of “social, emotional, and psychological development including peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.”

These same studies, Bolyard adds, show homeschool students “internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a high rate,” and that one is unacceptable to the progressive doctrinaires who seek to eradicate homeschooling.

A free public education is the tenth plank of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin declared, “Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” Adolf Hitler banned homeschooling and created Hitler’s Youth, teaching children loyalty to the state and to report on parents who disobeyed or disparaged the state.

This is not to equate American progressives with those murderous tyrants. It’s to point out that those who believe in the supremacy of the state and seek to control the levers of power have always made controlling the minds of the children a primary goal.

Bartholet and O'Donnell are essentially arguing that children belong to the state, which allows parents to raise them so long as parents obey their government masters.

To argue that parents have no right to raise and educate their children and instill in them their values is a grotesque corruption of all that America stands for. Such a despicable viewpoint should be soundly rejected.

(Updated.)

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