Harvard Law Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet, who caused a stir in April by calling for a near-total ban on homeschooling, doubled down in a recent interview, complaining that "many homeschooling parents are extreme ideologues, committed to raising their children" in evangelical Christian "belief systems."
This apparently is very dangerous, according to Bartholet, "because society may not have the chance to teach them values important to the larger community, such as tolerance of other people’s views and values."
In a May 15 interview in The Harvard Gazette, reporter Liz Mineo asked Bartholet about how the homeschooling movement developed so rapidly in the United States.
Bartholet, the Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law and faculty director of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School, said, "Behind the rapid growth of the homeschooling movement is the growth in the conservative evangelical movement."
"Conservative Christians wanted the chance to bring their children up with their values and belief systems and saw homeschooling as a way to escape from the secular education in public schools," she said.
Among the dangers to society and children because of homeschooling, Bartholet claimed "that children are simply not learning basic academic skills or learning about the most basic democratic values of our society or getting the kind of exposure to alternative views that enables them to exercise meaningful choice about their future lives."
"Many homeschooling parents are extreme ideologues," she said, "committed to raising their children within their belief systems isolated from any societal influence."
Bartholet did not say whether many public school teachers are "extreme ideologues" who push a secular, materialist belief system.
"The danger is both to these children and to society," said Bartholet. "The children may not have the chance to choose for themselves whether to exit these ideological communities; society may not have the chance to teach them values important to the larger community, such as tolerance of other people’s views and values."
Bartholet also complained that there is little to no government regulation of homeschooling.
"There's a shocking lack of regulation in this area," she said. "[I]n about a dozen states homeschooling parents aren’t even required to register. They can just keep their children at home rather than send them to school."
"Many academics and the biggest teachers’ unions in the country have found homeschooling deeply problematic," said the Harvard Law professor, adding that one of the biggest obstacles to liberating homeschool kids is parental rights.
The homeschooling lobby is successful because "the whole system is stacked in favor of parents’ rights," said Bartholet. "Our federal Constitution provides parents with powerful constitutional rights to raise their children, but provides children with no countervailing rights to nurturing parenting or to education."
"This is by contrast to other countries," she added, "which recognize child rights as central in their constitutions."
Another danger to some children from homeschooling is maltreatment or abuse, according to Bartholet, who claims "we have evidence that there is a strong connection between homeschooling and maltreatment."
Yet Bartholet apparently never mentions the maltreatment and even sexual abuse in some of the public schools. Is there a connection between public schooling and maltreatment?
As reported by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, "In 2004, the U.S. Department of Education published a report, 'Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature.' It found that nearly 10 percent of the students had been the victims of sexual misconduct, rape, or sexual assault.
"In 2007, AP ran a series on this subject and found more than 2,500 cases over five years in which 'educators were punished for actions from bizarre to sadistic.' That’s only the ones that got caught and were punished. 'Most of the abuse never gets reported,' AP found.
"What often happens is that predators are moved from one school district to another, a practice so common it is known as 'passing the trash.' Even those who are suspended keep their salaries, benefits, and pensions."
"During the 2017-18 academic year, there were 429 cases of sexual misconduct reported in the Texas public schools, a jump of 42% from the previous year," noted the Catholic League. "In 2015, 65 teachers in one Los Angeles school district were in 'teacher jail' for accusations of sexual misconduct or harassment."
To read the complete interview with Prof. Bartholet, click here.