OPINION: The anti-homeschooling crusade is filled with disinformation
From the age of five to the age of 18, I never set foot in a classroom as part of my education, and last year, I graduated from college.
My story is one of hundreds of thousands shared by homeschool graduates across the country, and every year there are more and more.
Each of us have a different story, but we are just as accomplished as our brick and mortar school peers, if not more so.
We are not unsociable weirdos with psychotic views on society. We are hard working, intellectually curious people with a strong desire to learn that doesn’t disappear after going to college.
What’s more, we are able to learn in an environment free of the distractions faced by our counterparts in public schools.
I cannot thank my parents enough for keeping me out of the public school fray. Instead of being in an environment full of drug use and promiscuity, I was in an environment that allowed me to focus on my studies, even if it occasionally required a regular nudge.
But a growing number of so-called experts are insisting that students like me shouldn’t exist. All students should be subjected to the social influences synonymous with going to a brick and mortar school.
That is what Harvard law school professor Elizabeth Bartholet is doing, as she has set out on a one woman crusade to destroy what she says is “a threat to children and society” — homeschooling.
As a homeschooling graduate, I took great offense to this on many levels. But the full depth of Bartholet’s deceptive misinformation campaign has led to Harvard Law School, one of the most prestigious institutions in the nation, to host a summit on the supposed dangers of homeschooling and the need to regulate it. The event has since been “postponed” from its original June date due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Bartholet started her crusade with a 2019 Arizona Law Review article titled: “Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection.” Now, she has followed it up with an interview with The Harvard Gazette, in addition to the planned “Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform.”
The way I see it, Bartholet is a liar with a political agenda. It does not appear to me that she has ever once actually interacted with the homeschool community. I tried to ask, but her email address has been removed from her faculty website and my attempts to reach Bartholet through Harvard officials were ignored.
In her Arizona Law Review article, Bartholet begins with a summary statement accusing parents of wanting to “isolate their children from ideas and values central to our democracy, determined to keep their children from exposure to views that might enable autonomous choice about their future lives.”
She goes on to baselessly accuse homeschooling parents of promoting “racial segregation and female subserviance” and questioning science. In the Gazette interview, she writes the reason homeschooling in the United States has experienced a boom is because of “the growth in the conservative evangelical movement.”
“Conservative Christians wanted the chance to bring their children up with their values and belief systems and saw homeschooling as a way to escape from the secular education in public schools,” she said. “They had fought the battle with public school systems to have their children exempted from exposure to alternative values in the schools and lost.”
The issue of a child’s education is not surprisingly a very controversial topic. How a child is taught during his or her formative years will have profound lasting implications on how that child interacts with society at large upon reaching adulthood.
Thus, when a rather vociferous minority abandons the controlled realm of government education, it creates a threat against groupthink.
Now, I must confess that I am not an evangelical. I am a Roman Catholic, another religious community with a widespread homeschool base. But Bartholet’s comments apply to homeschoolers of all religious backgrounds, and are rather telling about her personal beliefs.
The first is how she references “secular education.” There is no attempt to hide her belief that “secular education” is the most perfect education and should be followed by all. It’s almost like she treats it as a religious belief, one that cannot and should not be challenged. Furthermore, her comments reveal that she expects the reader to feel the same way.
While worth noting, this is not Bartholet’s deception.
Her deception comes in the form of numerous declarations about homeschooling families supporting segregation and overly patriarchal family structures. These two statements are blatantly untrue and rely on a fringe website as the only source of evidence.
If Bartholet had spoken to actual homeschool communities she would know this. But such an action would run contrary to the real purpose of her “expert” opinion, which is to push for a “presumptive ban on homeschooling,” with the unsaid goal of protecting the sacrosanct institution of secular, government education.
The trojan horse (besides her comments about segregation) to justify such a ban, amounts to a false concern about how well parents are equipped to instruct their own children, again reflecting a complete and utter disregard for how homeschooling is traditionally done.
If Bartholet had spoken to a large number of homeschool families, she would know that the vast majority of them rely on pre-made curriculums by homeschool-focused education institutions, making the homeschooler actually accountable to a real institution.
While I was homeschooled, I am actually considered a high school graduate of Kolbe Academy in Napa, California, which provided the curriculum and would certify all grades. Numerous other homeschool curriculums exist in this way, ensuring that homeschooled students do in fact receive a high quality education. It’s an education that often includes original texts that non homeschooled students usually don’t read until college, if ever.
Bartholet doesn’t want to protect children from a poor and incomplete education. Parents are the primary educators of their children, and she wants the public school to replace them. If they did, there would be no purpose for the family. And that’s her real goal — to replace parents with the all-knowing secular state, the altar at which she worships.