Professor Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard University recently called for a presumptive ban on homeschooling and is helping organize a homeschool summit which will be held at Harvard in the late spring. A team of experts will be covering an array of topics including what they consider to be the dangers of homeschooling. During the summit, speakers will discuss varying measures for reform. Some propose more strict regulation and greater supervision by the state; others believe a ban, in which parents would be able to obtain exemption, but not simply on the basis of religion or philosophy, is necessary.
Bartholet believes all students have the “right” to be exposed to worldviews and ideas beyond the confines of their homes and of their parent’s beliefs. Homeschooling, she believes, can be a breeding ground for extreme religious views, racism, and misogyny. Bartholet and moderator of the event Professor James Dwyer agree that homeschooling has gone under-regulated for too long, with many states not enforcing the requirements for home education. They also argue that with such limited supervision of the state, child abuse may increase and go undetected.
Many view Bartholet’s value of a child’s “rights” as one-sided. Her desire to expose secular, progressive ideas to those with “religious, traditional beliefs” only goes one direction, failing to expose religious beliefs to “secular” children. Those in support of homeschooling view Bartholet’s proposal as a direct violation of parental rights, and for those who are religious, of their religious freedom. One journalist challenges their notion of educational lack, questioning, “Have any of these people actually talked to a homeschooler?” Clearly this Harvard prof has done little research:
Opposers of Bartholet’s beliefs do agree with her that in cases where child-abuse and neglect are present, the state should intervene. They believe parents have the right to authority over their children, challenging Dwyer’s notion that “the reason the parent-child relationship exists is because the State confers legal parenthood.”