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Commentary

Homeschooling Is ‘Authoritarian’ and ‘Violates Children’s Constitutional Rights’: Harvard Law Professor

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The American education system is being overtaken by leftist academics hoping to indoctrinate children from an early age.

Many parents across America choose to homeschool their children for religious reasons. As public schools become more and more secular, Christian parents want to make sure that their children are taught the proper values.

But according to one Harvard Law School professor, some of these parents are authoritarians and “extreme religious ideologues” who are violating their own children’s rights.

In a paper published last year for Arizona Law Review, Elizabeth Bartholet explained why she “recommends a presumptive ban on homeschooling.”

“Homeschooling is a realm of near-absolute parental power,” Bartholet wrote. “This power is inconsistent with important rights supposedly guaranteed to children under state constitutions and state legislation throughout the land.”

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“States should impose significant restrictions on homeschooling. Legislatures should do this on their own initiative. But courts must make clear that the current regime violates children’s constitutional rights, and that restrictions along the lines described below are required.”

Bartholet also cited a 2018 book from Columbia University’s Michael Rebell to claim that many homeschooling parents “belong to fundamentalist religious groups” — groups that, according to Rebell, think “that exposing their children to ideas such as secularism, atheism, feminism, and value relativism is inconsistent with the values they espouse.”

“Some homeschooling parents,” she wrote, “are extreme religious ideologues who live in near-total isolation and hold views in serious conflict with those generally deemed central in our society.”

It’s worth wondering whether Bartholet considers opposition to ideas like atheism and “value relativism” to be the telltale sign of an “extreme religious ideologue.”

Would a ban on homeschooling be unconstitutional?

Does she think parents ought to simply go along with some of the radical left-wing policies that public schools have adopted in recent years?

Take, for example, the California schools that want to teach children about the secular idea of “gender identity” as early as kindergarten.

A school district in Austin, Texas, wishes to teach students in third through eighth grade about sexual orientation and gender identity as well.

And a school in Wisconsin was sued over a policy that 14 parents said allows children to “socially transition to a different gender identity at school without parental notice or consent” and encourages teachers to lie to parents about it.

Does Bartholet think parents have a duty to send their kids to be brainwashed at schools like these?

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Bartholet further explained her beliefs for an article published in the May-June issue of Harvard Magazine titled “The Risks of Homeschooling.”

“The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18? I think that’s dangerous,” Bartholet said in an interview.

“I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.”

Apparently, Bartholet thinks that forcing all children to attend school outside of the home is much less authoritarian.

Now, according to the Harvard Magazine piece, Bartholet tried to soften her stance by saying that not all homeschooling parents are totally incompetent, though she nonetheless seems to believe that the “burden of proving” their case for homeschooling rests on the parents’ side.

According to the piece: “‘No doubt there are some parents who are motivated and capable of giving an education that’s of a higher quality and as broad in scope as what’s happening in the public school,’ she says. But Bartholet believes that if parents want permission to opt out of schools, the burden of proving that their case is justified should fall on parents.”

The Harvard professor claimed in her law review paper that children need to be exposed “to a variety of views and values” so they can be prepared for the real world.

This line of logic comes with one problem: If a secular child, taught by secular parents, is sent into a secular school system, how exactly is that a “variety of views and values?”

Perhaps most troubling is that Bartholet is not the only academic who buys into these anti-homeschooling sentiments.

“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,” reads the description for an anti-homeschooling event being hosted by Harvard Law School in June.

“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.”

The hypocrisy is blindingly evident.

Leftists like Bartholet accuse thoughtful parents of being “authoritarian” while at the same time not-so-subtly suggesting that the style of education they favor is the only proper way to teach young minds

The fact that a professor from such a prestigious institution can’t see her own hypocrisy tells you all you need to know about the education system the left is trying to push on America’s children.

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Michael Austin joined The Western Journal as a staff reporter in 2020. Since then, he has authored hundreds of stories, including several original reports. He also co-hosts the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."
Michael Austin joined The Western Journal as a staff reporter in 2020. Since then, he has authored hundreds of stories, including several original reports. He also co-hosts the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."
Birthplace
Ames, Iowa




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