By Jonquil Frankham

November 20, 2008 ( – In a pair of squabbles with conservative co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, The View’s Joy Behar labeled homeschoolers “demented” and Sarah Palin an “airhead.”

In a discussion about various education options for the daughters of president-elect Barack Obama, Behar advocated schooling the girls in the White House, rather than sending them to public or private schools. She joked, however, that rather than homeschooling the kids, a small school with other kids should be run out of the White House. 

At that point Hasselback interjected that she thought homeschooling could be a good thing, whereon Behar turned to her and said, “A lot of them are demented when they’re homeschooled.”

As Hasselback attempted to explain some of the advantages of homeschooling to her colleague, Behar shot back, “They’re afraid of children, they learn to be afraid of other children.”

Behar, who has also called Rush Limbaugh a “terrorist,” also dismissed Sarah Palin as an “airhead.” Her remarks followed a discussion of Newsweek and Time Magazine’s comparison of Obama to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Hasselbeck pointed out that the fact Obama is reading up on Lincoln earns him nothing but praise, while if Palin were caught doing the same, it would be seen as “cramming.” Behar dismissed her, saying “we all know that the woman is an airhead, so let’s not even go there.”

Homeschooling advocates charge that Behar’s remarks about homeschooling show a considerable lack of knowledge about the institution and about the achievements of children who are educated in this fashion.

Richard Sousa, Senior Associate Director and Research Fellow of the Hoover Institution and specialist in K-12 education, observed in a June 2007 article that homeschooling children, on average, score way above the national average “in every subject and at every grade level.”
  Sousa calls America’s public school system “substandard,” and says that “despite promises of reform and improvement from politicians, public school boards, school administrators, and unions, the results have either been maintaining the status quo or actually worsening.” A 2006 Harris poll demonstrated that less than 20% of American adults think their nation’s education is “very good” or “excellent.”

Homeschooling, said Sousa, is a natural reaction against the failing school systems.

According to Sousa, homeschoolers now make up the largest “school reform initiative,” more popular than charter schools and private schools. While the number of American homeschoolers is debated, Sousa places it at about 3% of the entire school-age population. This is significant, says Sousa, when one considers that in the 2002 National Geographic Bee, “four of the ten finalists were homeschooled, including the winner,” and in the 2003 National Spelling Bee, “homeschooled children took two of the top seven spots.”