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Harvard Prof Worries Too Much Homeschooling Freedom is ‘Dangerous’

Harvard Prof Worries Too Much Homeschooling Freedom is ‘Dangerous’

“means that parents can deny their children rights to education and to protection against maltreatment simply by not sending them to school.”

Everyone is a homeschooler now. It will be fascinating to see how this crisis affects attitudes about homeschooling. Will more people adopt the practice going forward?

The College Fix reports:

Harvard professor: Too much homeschooling freedom is ‘dangerous’

American homeschooling law ‘poses real dangers to children and to society’

A prominent Harvard professor argued recently that homeschooling, particularly the largely unregulated style of it that exists throughout much of the United States, constitutes a danger to the country and to schoolchildren, arguing that homeschooled children are ripe for abuse and that it poses a legitimate threat to the stability of American society.

Elizabeth Bartholet, the Morris Wasserstein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, writes in The Arizona Law Review that American homeschool law, which generally grants parents broad latitude to control the education of their children, is “inconsistent with a proper understanding of the human rights” of those children.

Homeschooling has in recent decades exploded in popularity across the United States, thanks in no small part to the work of activist groups like the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has lobbied on behalf of homeschooling families since the early 1980s. Homeschooling is legal in every state in the country; around 3.5 percent of American students are homeschooled.

This regime, Bartholet argues, “means that parents can deny their children rights to education and to protection against maltreatment simply by not sending them to school.”

“Formal law, of course, does not affirmatively grant parents the right to deny education or to commit child maltreatment. But effectively it does just this by allowing homeschooling and failing to regulate it in meaningful ways,” she adds.


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arguing that homeschooled children are ripe for abuse

Well, the good news is that they won’t be abused at school.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to tom_swift. | April 25, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    The minute I read that, I had the same thought. My experience with public schools was atrocious. While there were some loser teachers, for the most part they seemed to be interested in teaching, but school administrators are a notch above used car sales people and a notch below local politicians. My dealings with collegiate administrators made me think they were cut from the same cloth.

    Two different school districts teed me off enough that I organized opposition to and repeatedly killed their mileages. Even loss of tens of millions did not result in any meaningful improvement in their conduct.

    Academia, especially administration, needs major downsizing and attitude adjustments. We need to make college affordable by killing a large number of useless majors and staff associated with them.

So dangerous that all three my children earned tremendous sums in scholarships and the youngest graduated Summa Cum Laude from a school in South Bend last year.

Homeschooling is clearly lethal to a child’s health.

Morning Sunshine | April 21, 2020 at 10:37 am

As a very vocal homeschooler for the last 17 years, I have had many conversations with friends and family. Many wish they could, or say “I could never.”

And their concerns are academic: “I am not as smart as you; I couldn’t educate my own children” (to which I have sometimes responded “So you are sending your own children into the same educational system that failed you?”);
Or Social: “I cannot provide the sports, dances, friends” as the school system
Or Familial: “I fight with my kids all evening over homework as it is; i cannot imagine fighting all day over school work!”

In the last 3 weeks I have talked to 4 friends who have given me variations of these statements.
One has a 15-yo who WANTS to homeschool. We joked that since she had been praying to be able to homeschool, this is all her fault 😉 Anyway, for her, this is an opportunity for her to show her mom that she CAN get her school work done without a lot of extra stress on her mom. And Mom is tentatively thinking about letting her continue Public-School-From-Home for next year.
One is a mom whose concerns have focused more on academics (her husband was partially homeschooled). And after a long conversation about how each of her girls are doing, she mentioned that 2 of her girls are thriving so much more at home, and that as Mom, she is ignoring half the work to focus on what her daughters actually NEED, not just the busywork of school. She also said “For the first time, I think I could actually homeschool.”
One mom is a big “school is for social” activities, and she is watching one of her sons totally thrive at home, finishing ALL the work from his teachers in a few hours, and then spending the day doing what HE wants to do. She gave the impression that she likes this way for him.
The last mom has a few of each of the concerns, and while there was no great epiphany for her, I could tell that she was amazed at the difference her being the teacher vs. sending them off all day.

Maybe people are talking to me about it because they know I will support them, but it is interesting to me how much their attitudes towards homeschooling has changed in the last 4 weeks. Most people will probably return their children to the government school system, but, I think a lot will continue their at home journey, at least with some of their kids.

No wonder the statists are worried. not only are the families realizing that *maybe* just maybe they can homeschool, they are starting to see how much time is wasted in the classroom, and how much junk work the kids are getting. But they are also strengthening the familial ties the left has been working hard to break. And some families are noticing exactly how much GARBAGE is being taught.

    Morning Sunshine in reply to Morning Sunshine. | April 21, 2020 at 10:40 am

    oh, re-reading that, it makes it sound like her husband’s homeschooling was sub par; in fact, that he and his family is so smart and well-educated makes her feel like she cannot do her own children’s education.

    I homeschooled for 16 years. My neighbors thought I was crazy, but certainly gave me accolades, and the children’s successes. NOW, they understand firsthand why we homeschooled; they, too, are seeing the differences. One is the high school board president, too.

    Really great post. Sincerely.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Morning Sunshine. | April 25, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    On the issue of fighting with kids, if you are home schooling them the fight will probably be in the morning, and homework will be done then, meaning no fight over homework later.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Morning Sunshine. | April 26, 2020 at 10:04 am

    Someone quoted 25 to 35 % of school children will not return to public schools this fall but will continue home schooling.

    Have you seen anything about that?

The true danger to Progressives is that millions of families are now able to see what a scam public education really is.

Massinsanity | April 21, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Cannot allow children to escape the “progressive” indoctrination machine.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Massinsanity. | April 25, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    Indoctrination I was able to deal with, counter, because I come from a family of teachers but am a rouge who became an entrepreneur. I love learning and seeing others learn. It is ingrained in me, and when I have children around, I am constantly teaching.

One quibble: What most parents are doing now isn’t really homeschooling. It is simply implementing crappy public school curriculum at home. I hope that many parents use this experience as an opportunity to explore how much better their children’s education could be if they work to meet each child’s individual needs.

As for the Harvard idiocy itself, it enrages me. When public schools stop failing on an industrial scale and notice and appropriately deal with cases of abuse, then and only then can the public school cheerleaders criticize me and my little homeschool.

Although it is true that my little homeschool will be closing shortly. You know, when my National Merit Finalist heads off to college on a full-ride academic scholarship.

    herm2416 in reply to Anonamom. | April 21, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    ” …if they work to meet each child’s individual needs…..”
    Ah, ability specific classes, rather than age specific?
    The absolute BEST part of homeschooling!

    Unknown3rdParty in reply to Anonamom. | April 22, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Almost every school district offers a “home school option”, whereby students can study from home using the same crappy curriculum built on Socialist and Communist principles, where the student is force-fed state propaganda but doesn’t actually learn.

    At the same time, parents don’t have to do the actual teaching. There are many worthwhile curricula already developed for home school that espouse real principles, all of which include various facets of religion without necessarily representing any particular religion; the parents merely have to do their homework to find a good program.

    Essentially, the parent becomes little more than a supervisor; the students quickly learns to manage themselves and their time, and the parents simply administers quizzes and tests that measure progress and learning. And the students, as part of the school districts where they live, remain legally eligible to participate in extracurricular sports, music, etc., without having to sit through 7 hours of propaganda sessions.

The Friendly Grizzly | April 21, 2020 at 5:41 pm

“Harvard Professor” seems more and more to be not a title, but, a punchline.

She’s right. Our school system was copied from Bavaria, where the schools were designed to turn independent children into collectivist robots who would be good soldiers for the state. If that is your ideal, then all this homeschooling is very dangerous.

Every child learns at different speeds, just every runner might run at different speeds.
When you have 40-50 students in a class, with a regimented curriculum, typically the fastest students are bored out of their minds, the slowest students give up, and only average students are served well.

In modern American public schools, it’s even worse, as slower students are usually passed however poor their understanding of the subject, faster students usually aren’t challenged to do better than the minimum, and if any discipline issues arise it’s worth a teacher job or even health to rein in problem students.

Which is why, post Education Majors being the majority of staff, we went from the acknowledged best high schools in NYC being public ones to the worst high schools being public ones.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to BobM. | April 25, 2020 at 9:24 pm

    “fastest students are bored out of their minds, the slowest students give up, and only average students are served well.”

    Maybe that is why those one room schoolhouses served us so well. When I was a teen I used to play in an old abandoned one room schoolhouse. It had a large real slate blackboard, log floor joists, and a bell in a cupola on the roof.

Richard Aubrey | April 21, 2020 at 9:34 pm

If you’re not home schooling, there’s still the dinner table. “The teacher said WHAT?”

The depth of this professor’s concern is quite telling. We must not be allowed to raise or teach our own children. How can they be properly indoctrinated if they are taught their parent’s values? If this doesn’t prove that the entire educational system in our country is run by leftists, I don’t know what will.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to fxdwg69. | April 25, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    Personally, I taught my children fundamental, universal values, and then I exposed them to many different religions as teens, so that they were equipped to make their own choices. After services I would take them out for lunch, and we would discuss both the message of the minister and observations about the nature of people in that specific church. In the end they absorbed the important stuff from our example.

Personal/Familial freedom is indeed a fatally dangerous thing to the Little Emperor Tyrants who would love to keep the peasants ever under their upturned noses and oppressive heels.

The same “Power to the people!” freedom-espousing/loving hippies that once stormed the castle gates are themselves now safely and firmly ensconced in the aristocracy. They are NOT about to let the great unwashed masses have any power at all, now that they are in charge. It’s the M.O. of “People’s Revolutions” the world over, down throughout history.