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Harvard prof: Homeschoolers should be required to attend some public school classes

The homeschooling critic contends that some parents 'are going to be absolutely inadequate to provide the fundamentals of, you know, education ... kids need to have.'
Tue Jun 9, 2020 - 7:19 pm EST
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Elizabeth Bartholet. Harvard Law School / YouTube

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CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, June 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet, who was called out by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for wanting to impose “a presumptive ban” on homeschooling, has now argued for a “regulatory regime” forcing children who are educated at home to still attend some classes at a public school.

According to Bartholet, children educated by their parents at home “should have some exposure to the public schools environment … I think they should have to take a course or two every year at the public school and engage in some extracurricular activities.”

Her argument was that “children have a right to be exposed to views and values other than those of their parents, and there’s no way to guarantee that if 24/7 those kids are at home.”

During an interview last weekend with Off-Trail Learning, a podcast by unschooling advocate Blake Boles, Bartholet said “it’s unregulated homeschooling that I’m concerned with.”

Apart from child abuse going undetected, the professor also feared that some parents “are going to be absolutely inadequate to provide the fundamentals of, you know, education that I think almost everybody in America would agree kids need to have, certain skills to give them various employment and other choices in the future.”

Bartholet blamed the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) for preventing politicians from enacting regulations on homeschooling.

“It’s also the power of this narrow, conservative, religious, political group that’s personified in the HSLDA,” she said. “They’ve got the kind of power that the gun lobby has. They don’t represent significant numbers, but they have … proved to have so far near overwhelming power in terms of preventing legislators from doing what I think legislators would do if they felt free to act rationally.”

Bartholet then proceeded to spell out what kinds of regulation she envisioned.

She proposed putting “a burden of justification on parents to demonstrate that they actually have the capacity to provide an adequate education at home.” She clarified that this would not necessarily mean parents need to have a college degree, or even a high school diploma.

“But if they don’t have a high school degree (sic!), then I think they need to demonstrate why … they’re going to be capable of providing their kids an adequate education,” she added.

“I think parents should have to justify withdrawing their kids and have a reason that they think they will do better by their kids’ education.” They also need some “justification,” she pointed out, “in terms of how and why they’re qualified to teach.”

Bartholet questioned whether parents are “going to make a commitment to teaching the broad range of subjects that public school education and our, you know, state commissioners of education consider the minimum that children should learn.”

She then revealed that homeschooling, for her, would essentially amount to a public school education at home.

“Roughly speaking, the public school curriculum ought to be something that homeschooling are willing to commit to, and demonstrate that they’re able to teach,” Bartholet said. Children, in turn, would be required to take standardized tests prepared by the individual states.

During the course of the interview, Bartholet admitted having sent her kids to private school.

In April, Pompeo had spoken out in support of homeschooling, referring to a Harvard Magazine article based on remarks by Bartholet, which criticized families educating their children at home and called for “a presumptive ban on the practice.”

“The risk to children is NOT from homeschooling,” Pompeo tweeted. “The risk is from radical leftist scholars seeking to impose THEIR values on OUR children.”

He summarized the Harvard Magazine article by stating Bartholet’s “mission is simple: to further the destruction of the family unit. Her plan: substitute state power for parental love. For her, the corollary benefit is to drive Christian values out of public discourse under the guise of preventing ‘child abuse.’”

“This ivory-tower screed attacking parents who choose to dedicate their lives to educating their own children, often at significant financial sacrifice, is a reminder that we must all work together to protect civilization’s most successful institution: our families,” Pompeo concluded.

HSLDA staff attorney Daniel Beasley wrote that “Professor Bartholet’s proposed ban on homeschooling relies on inaccurate or erroneous stereotypes and offers a solution that would only exacerbate problems for children. She paints a false portrait of homeschooling, casting it as predominantly a bunch of religious extremists who have no interest in educating their children.”

“This indicates,” he continued,” that she is either unfamiliar with homeschooling families or dismissive of the research that paints a vibrant picture in stark contrast to the nightmarish strawman she has created.

“Though imperfect, parents are objectively best positioned to and subjectively most interested in raising their children well. Thus, they ought to be afforded a presumption that their decisions are best for their children even — no, especially — when those decisions are based on sincere religious beliefs,” he concluded.

Beasley’s lengthy article was not based on the most recent interview but on Bartholet’s 80-page article for Arizona Law Review published earlier this year.


  education, elizabeth bartholet, harvard university, home legal defense fund, homeschooling, mike pompeo

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