Harvard Professor Argues Homeschooling is a Threat “to Children and Society”

Elizabeth Bartholet, a anti-homeschooling Harvard Law School professor will be one of the key participants in an upcoming Homeschooling Summit. In her own words, Bertholet describes homeschooling as a threat “to children and society.”

June 18th to 19th, Harvard Law School will be hosting a homeschooling summit titled “Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform.”

Per the Harvard website describing the event:

We will convene leaders in education and child welfare policy, legislators and legislative staff, academics and policy advocates, to discuss child rights in connection with homeschooling in the United States. The focus will be on 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. Experts will lead conversations about the available empirical evidence, the current regulatory environment, proposals for legal reform, and strategies for effecting such reform.

One of the first speakers mentioned is Elizabeth Bartholet.

Her work is also listed as the first in “reading material.”

Elizabeth Bartholet, Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection, Forthcoming, Arizona Law Review, Vol. 62 No.1 2020.

This is what Bartholet writes in her abstract:

This article describes the rapidly growing homeschooling phenomenon, and the threat it poses to children and society. Homeschooling activists have in recent decades largely succeeded in their deregulation campaign, overwhelming legislators with aggressive advocacy. As a result, parents can now keep their children at home in the name of homeschooling free from any real scrutiny as to whether or how they are educating their children.

Many homeschool precisely because they want to isolate their children from ideas and values central 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. Abusive parents can keep their children at home free from the risk that teachers will report them to child protection services. Some homeschool precisely for this reason.

This article calls for a radical transformation in the homeschooling regime, and a related rethinking of child rights and reframing of constitutional doctrine. It recommends a presumptive ban on homeschooling, with the burden on parents to demonstrate justification for permission to homeschool.

Per DailyCaller, within the article, she states that “society loses out” when parents homeschool their children, and homeschooled children are not instilled with the “skills needed to participate productively in society as adults through employment” and will grow up “alienated from society, ignorant of views and values different from their parents.”

“Some homeschooling parents are extreme religious ideologues who live in near-total isolation and hold views in serious conflict with those generally deemed central in our society. For example, some believe that women should be totally subservient to men and educated in ways that promote such subservience,” her article reads. She also claims that some people decide to homeschool to “promote racist ideologies and avoid racial intermingling.”

She also emphasizes what her article calls for: “a radical transformation in the homeschooling regime,” a “reframing of constitutional doctrine,” and a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling, with the burden on parents to prove to authorities that they are justified in seeking homeschooling options for their children.

“[This article] recommends a presumptive ban on homeschooling, with the burden on parents to demonstrate justification for permission to homeschool.”

Another speaker is the other co-organizer of the event, Prof. James Dwyer of William and Mary School of Law, who argued in his 2001 book “Religious Schools v. Children’s Rights” that common practices in “fundamentalist Christian and Catholic schools may be damaging to children,” through the “excessive restriction of children’s basic liberties, stifling intellectual development, the instilling of dogmatic and intolerant attitudes” as well as “excessive guilt and repression.” Girls especially risk a diminished self-esteem, the book’s summary says.