Recently there was controversy caused by an article in Harvard Magazine about homeschooling. I put together a few resources on this as well as a few snippets from relevant responses.
The Risks of Homeschooling by Erin O' Donnell Harvard Magazine (May-June 2020)
* Also see the longer academic article cited in the Harvard Magazine essay--Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection Arizona Law Review vol. 62, no. 1 (2020)
Harvard Law School Calls for Ban on Homeschooling: Homeschooled Harvard Graduate On Why This Is Wrong by Melba Pearson (April 19, 2020)
"Thus, it is disappointing that Harvard Magazine’s Erin O’Donnell, quoting Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet, argues it is the government’s responsibility to educate the children of this nation. She is not arguing everyone has a right to education — they absolutely do. Rather, she argues the government has more of a right to educate, care for, and control your children than you, their parents, do; and furthermore, they can do it better. The idea that a government, already so inefficient and inadequate in so many areas, can care for and educate every child better than its parent is wrong.
"The article argues only those whom the government deems correct can teach children; this is a blatant rejection of free thought, suppression of democratization of education, and attack on the freedoms and rights the citizens of our country fought long and hard to win. This article speaks directly against constitutional rights to parent your child as you see fit and exercise free speech. It speaks directly against those ideas of liberty and freedom that are fundamental to the success of our nation.
"Additionally, this anti-homeschooling narrative coming out of Harvard is completely contradictory to its recent crusade of “diversity,” “inclusion,” and “acceptance.” During my four years on Harvard’s campus, I saw many protests, new rules and regulations, and initiatives to promote diversity, inclusion, and tolerance. We as humans thrive on diversity, and the openness and freedom of thought and opinion and dialogue that comes with it. The scientific community thrives on open source solutions. The arts thrive on the creativity and optimization of ideas that are only possible through diversity.
"The restricting and banning of individual rights, especially on the basis of religious or political beliefs, or other ideas protected under freedom of speech is not democratization — it stems from the fundamental desire for a world without a certain group of people, and that desire makes the survival of creative, peaceful, pluralistic community impossible. I am sure that neither O’Donnell or Bartholet truly desire a world without homeschoolers, and I am sure that is not the vision Harvard wants to present to our world. That is discrimination, and it is wrong."
Alex J. Harris (Facebook) (April 19, 2020) Alex Harris was homeschooled and later graduated from Harvard Law School.
Harvard Magazine Calls for a "Presumptive Ban" on Homeschooling: Here are 5 Things It God Wrong by Kerry McDonald Foundation for Economic Education (April 20, 2020)"While Professor Bartholet may not be aware of any of this, I was not the first or only homeschool grad at Harvard Law School when I arrived in 2012. At least two preceded me. Both were named editors of the Harvard Law Review, a distinction available only to the smallest fraction of the student body. Another homeschool grad matriculated with me. By the time I graduated, there were FOUR of us on the 92-member law review board. One homeschool grad won the annual award for best student writing on constitutional law. At the end of my 2L year, I won the Sears Prize for one of the two highest GPAs in the entire class."Because of my success at Harvard, I had the enormous privilege to serve as a law clerk—first for then-Judge Neil Gorsuch on the Tenth Circuit and then for Justice Anthony Kennedy at the U.S. Supreme Court—right after law school. But once again, I wasn’t alone. When I arrived at 1 First Street in DC, another homeschool grad was clerking for a Justice down the hall. Another followed a year later. And while the ranks of SCOTUS clerks have historically been heavily imbalanced in favor of men, both of the other homeschooled clerks were women."Today, as a direct result of my homeschool education, I am a successful attorney at one of the premier law firms in the United States. But I’m just one of many success stories. My fellow homeschool graduates are some of the most talented, responsible, caring, well-read, and well-rounded adults I know. They have reached all levels of academia and are making the world a better place from boardrooms to living rooms, small business to big law. Professor Bartholet might even know some of them and just never realized they were homeschooled."
Elite Imperialist Crusade Against Homeschooling by Rod Dreher The American Conservative (April 20, 2020)
4. Ensuring the Proper Role of Government
Harvard's Lazy Attack on Homeschooling by Mike McShane Forbes (April 21, 2020)
"Lazy stereotypes of insular religious homeschoolers are also easily disproven by a cursory look at the data. In 2019, the National Center for Education Statistics published results from a survey of homeschoolers who found that the number one reason for homeschooling was not “a desire to provide religious instruction” (that came in third) or even “a desire to provide moral instruction” (that came in seventh), but rather “a concern about school environment, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure.” Number two was “dissatisfaction with the academic instruction at other schools.”
"Totally absent from these lazy stereotypes are two of the fastest-growing segments of homeschooling in America: families of children with special needs and minority families. In that NCES survey, almost 11 percent of homeschooling parents say that they do so primarily because their child has special need of some sort. In a recent research brief from the University of Washington’s Center for Reinventing Public Education, Aaron Hirsh crunched the numbers and identified that 8% of all homeschoolers are African-American and 26% of all homeschoolers are Hispanic. Why are they opting out of traditional schools? As Hirsh puts it, “Motives for opting out vary, but many black families cite racism and a lack of opportunity for black students in the traditional classroom.”
Harvard Professor Wants to Ban Homeschooling Because Christians Do It by Kelly Marcum The Federalist (April 23, 2020)
What She Cares About Is Controlling Kids’ Minds
A Short Response to Harvard's Anti-Homeschooling, Anti-Parent, Anti-American Professor of Child Advocacy by Home School Legal Defense Association (April 24, 2020)
Harvard Attack on Homeschooling Doesn't Push Kids' Best Interests by Katie Jay and Sarah Campbell The Federalist (April 27, 2020)Bartholet suggests that there should be a presumptive ban against homeschooling because parents can’t be trusted to raise democratic citizens. Thankfully, her dangerous premise is based on a discarded notion that the government, through its public schools, is solely responsible for creating democratic citizens through public education. The idea that homeschooling parents are too ignorant or too religious to be trusted is so elitist and without foundation that it must be condemned. And it has been, by none other than the United States Supreme Court and the United Nations General Assembly.In 1922, a law was passed by Oregon voters that prohibited private education. That voter initiative was spearheaded by the discredited Ku Klux Klan and motivated by anti-Catholic animus. The United States Supreme Court struck down the law in a landmark ruling, which issued a profound and powerful precedent that has stood for nearly 100 years:“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”As a law professor, Bartholet should know that both American constitutional law and international human rights law utterly reject her view that parents are unworthy of exercising decision making for the education of their children. Far from being a risk to democracy, empowering parents to raise and educate their children is a bulwark against totalitarianism.The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes in its Article 16.3 that families are the “fundamental group unit of society,” and in its Article 26.3, that “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” These principles were articulated in response to what happened in Germany when Hitler took over all education in order to immerse children in national socialist values away from their families. Virtually every major international human rights treaty recognizes that parents are endowed with this inalienable right.
"Homeschooling today is a far cry from the draconian world Bartholet describes. The article is based on the homeschooling community of some 30-40 years ago — and even then, it’s a caricature.
"Bartholet alleges that children who are homeschooled suffer social isolation, but our experience has been that homeschoolers are at least as active in extracurricular activities as their school peers. The article doesn’t recognize how widespread homeschooling co-ops, homeschooler field trips, and community classes are, nor does it take into account the wonders of modern technology.
"Homeschoolers are privy to many life skills at an early age in comparison to their mainstream schooled peers. Unencumbered by the traditional school schedule, many teenage homeschoolers balance college courses, extracurricular activities, and jobs with more maturity and grace than many adults.
"Homeschoolers, savvy to online education, have transitioned to quarantine with a wide support network already in place and with the discipline and creativity necessary for independent learning. Indeed, it is by and large modern homeschool families who have created the fantastic and diverse online resources that all children are now benefiting from during this national quarantine."
Harvard Law Takes Aim at Homeschooling by Kevin D. Williamson National Review (April 30, 2020)
Home Sweet Homeschool by Peter Jones (May 1, 2020)