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Harvard Hates Homeschooling

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

People in Ivy League towers really need to come back down to earth.

Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet has taken residence in that tower and looks down on us lowly homeschoolers. Her recently published anti-homeschooling screed absurdly claims: “This homeschooling regime poses real dangers to children and to society…homeschooling is a realm of near-absolute parental power.” Well, who should be in power? The child? The State? Well, according to the professor…yes and yes. She believes that the government’s desire to indoctrinate, I mean educate, children supersedes parental rights. Children, according to Bartholet, essentially belong to the State (that’s slavery) and selective rights are then bestowed upon the parents by Almighty Government. She has it all in reverse. Our rights don’t come from that institution. We the people decide which rights the government possesses. Constitution, anyone?

Bartholet is appalled “that parents who are committed to beliefs and values counter to those of the larger society are entitled to bring their children up in isolation, so as to help ensure that they will replicate the parents’ views and lifestyle choices.” By “isolation” she really means, anywhere outside of the public school system. Parents want to raise their children with their own values? Collective gasp everyone.

She insists on a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling because children “are also at serious risk for ongoing abuse and neglect in the isolated families that constitute a significant part of the homeschooling world.” My wife, Bethany, and I take all of this on more extensively in our newly launched podcast, Life Has Purpose. We attended public and private schools. Bethany has her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Education. She taught in both urban and suburban public and private schools for 13 years and has homeschooled our four children for the same amount of time. I’m the teacher’s assistant.

According to Bartholet, we are religious extremists, misogynists, racists and child abusers. The only extremists here are those in academia who have no idea who homeschoolers are. It’s not illegal to be a Christian. My wife’s in charge of our nonprofit organization, The Radiance Foundation, and we share equal responsibility in our home. I’m brown, so white supremacy (or black supremacy, for that matter) isn’t a thing in our homeschool or in the homeschools of any of our diverse group of friends. And we’ve never neglected or abused our children. Ever.

Child abuse is horrid, and every instance is a tragedy that needs to be remedied. It’s despicable to exploit it, which is exactly what Bartholet is doing because she lacks the evidence to make a legitimate argument.

Do you know where children have been found to experience extensive and underreported abuse? In our public schools. According to a 2004 Department of Education (DOE) report entitled Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature: “…nearly 9.6% of [K-12 public school] students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career.”

Guess who never mentions abuse at the hands of public school personnel? Should we issue a “presumptive ban” on public education?

Harvard—which is in the business of competing for students against many other Ivy League schools—is holding Bartholet’s anti-school choice event in June. The event website states: “It will focus on problems of educational deprivation and child maltreatment.”

Never mind the spelling deprivation that Harvard Magazine displayed in its article promoting Bartholet’s paper and upcoming summit. An illustration (since corrected) in the article’s header shows a sad homeschooled child behind bars inside a house of books as public school students frolic and play outside. The word Arithmetic was misspelled in the drawing. Oh, the irony.

It seems that Harvard is also deprived in that very arithmetic.

If homeschooling is such a hotbed of child abuse, wouldn’t the numbers bear that out? Parents are increasingly choosing options other than public school: charter schools, private schools, and homeschools. According to the DOE, homeschooling rose from 850,000 students in 1999 to 1,690,000 in 2016 enlarging the percentage of homeschooled students from 1.7 percent to 3.3 percent. So, logically, if homeschooling numbers have doubled, then the number of child abuse victims would rise as well. Right?


In 1999, there were 826,000 children reported to be victims of abuse and neglect in America, with a victimization rate of 11.8 per 1,000 children. In 2016—nearly 20 years later—that number dropped significantly to 676,000 victims of abuse with a lower victimization rate of 9.1 per 1,000 children.

Where’s your argument, Harvard?

Bartholet and other “progressives” like her love to cling to their fringe anecdotal evidence. Pro-abortion activists do, too. Rape-related reasons comprise less than 1% of our nation’s annual abortions, but fake feminists will use the 1% to justify 100% of abortions. I was conceived in rape but adopted and loved, so I’m very aware of the abused argument.

Interestingly, Bartholet is an adoptive mother who opined that she had a fundamental right to her two adopted children yet contends that parents don’t have the natural right to their biological children. She wrote in the far left The American Prospect magazine: “But there is no necessary inconsistency between abortion rights and adoption rights, and we should not let abortion opponents hoodwink us so easily.” Sorry. One set of “rights” results in a dead human being; the other results in a living one. There couldn’t be more of an inconsistency.

So, she’s for the choice in ending the life of a child but against a parent’s choice in educating a child.

Yup. Sounds like progressivism.

Thankfully, a Harvard student group isn’t easily hoodwinked and is holding an online event on May 1st to counter Bartholet’s published paper and propaganda summit. It’s called The Disinformation Campaign Against Homeschooling. It’s clear that Bartholet and her anti-homeschooling colleagues are suffering from the effects of all the thin air up in that Ivy League tower. Perhaps they should join the Ideological Diversity student group and the well-informed school choice speakers who can help bring them all back down to earth.

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