Ban Homeschooling? What?

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One month in as a remote teacher, I can tell you which two groups of my students are succeeding. There are the ones who always do well because of ability, accountability, and motivation.

And there are the former home-schoolers. Some students fall in both groups, but even my “average” students who used to home-school, find remote learning no problem. They manage their time and get their work done.

Home-schooling is effective, efficient, and pro-family … unless you listen to a Harvard professor who sees the boogeyman lurking behind every homeschool curriculum. This, from the latest Harvard Magazine:

“Elizabeth Bartholet, Wasserstein public interest professor of law and faculty director of the Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, sees risk for children – and society – in homeschooling, and recommends a presumptive ban on the practice.”

Risks? A ban?

Bartholet may have the fancy title and Harvard credentials, but her opinion and this magazine piece are full of stereotypes, bigotry, and errors.

Maybe, Bartholet is threatened by the growing number of homeschoolers. Tom Joyce wrote in the New Boston Post two weeks ago that the remote learning, taking place during this pandemic, may motivate more families to consider homeschooling.

That would be a nightmare for Bartholet and her Harvard ilk. The article characterizes home-school parents as over-zealous rubes who likely can’t teach and may be more prone to abuse children. The cartoon that accompanies the article features a girl by herself, looking sadly out the barred window of her house, while other, happy children – presumably taught in school – are playing and dancing around the house. The side of the house features four books – Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Bible.

And, yes, the inclusion of a bible is supposed to sound off alarms. From the article:

“Surveys 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. Bartholet notes that some of these parents are ‘extreme religious ideologues’ who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy.”

That’s some slippery slope that Bartholet puts Christians on:  from reading the Gospels one moment to becoming misogynistic, racist buffoons the next. One delight from the article was the comment section; the first comment coming from an atheist who homeschools her children, calling out Bartholet for her misinformation.

It’s obvious what Bartholet and her fellow elites want – state control on how children are raised.

“It’s also important that children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values,” Bartholet said. “… The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18? I think that’s dangerous. I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.”

Who are the powerful ones wanting authority?  Irony, anyone?

Lest you think I’m getting all 1984-paranoid here, Harvard is sponsoring a summit in June, where “the focus will be on problems of educational deprivation and child maltreatment that too often occur under the guise of homeschooling …”

One of the speakers is Jim Dwyer from William and Mary Law School. Dwyer said in an interview that “the state needs to be the ultimate guarantor of a child’s wellbeing … the reason parent-child relationships exist is because state confers legal parenthood … That’s the state that is empowering parents to do anything with children.”

Let that sink in, parents. In my case, the only reason I have a relationship with my nine children is because Big Broth– … er, the state, confers it on me.

Don’t tell the heady law professors that we’ve homeschooled. Of our children who have escaped their educational deprivation, two have master’s degrees (a third will, soon), another is a West Point graduate – such a “risk” to society – while two are in college. The others are locked up behind barred windows.

Homeschooled students do fine, often better than those in school. Even a benign publication like Business Insider pointed out the benefits in its article “Homeschooling could be the smartest way to teach kids in the 21st century …”

While the professors praise the state, state schools are not necessarily something to be praised (read the review of Get Out Now, which suggests pulling children out of public school).

We will give the final word to Kerry McDonald, who received her M.Ed. from Harvard, and is a homeschool advocate. McDonald, a past contributor to New Boston Post, wrote a reply to the article on Bartholet, including this:

“While there may always be outliers and more research is needed, most peer-reviewed studies on homeschooling outcomes find that homeschoolers generally outperform their schooled peers academically, and have positive life experiences.”


Kevin Thomas is a writer and teacher, living with his wife and children in Standish, Maine.