In the most recent weeks, our country has seen millions of kids staying home from school, leaving some parents with no choice but to start homeschooling — giving them a peek into the everyday life of the few and far between homeschooling families around the country.
While this has allowed countless Americans to understand just how hard parents who choose to homeschool their kids work and has softened the often-harsh judgment of homeschoolers in our society, not everyone is too keen on affirming the choice to homeschool.
Elizabeth Bartholet, a professor at Harvard Law School, saw this as the perfect time to let us know how she really feels about homeschooling in Harvard Magazine’s recently published article, entitled “The Risks Of Homeschooling,” in which she suggests home education be banned altogether. With seemingly zero subtlety, ambiguity, or impartiality, Bartholet attacks every American homeschooler, asserting their alternative education could render them incapable of “contributing positively to a democratic society” and accusing parents who homeschool of wanting “authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18” — and she doesn’t stop there.
Bartholet attacks every American homeschooler, asserting their alternative education could render them incapable of “contributing positively to a democratic society.”
Using a host of logical fallacies to justify her stance on home education, Bartholet goes on to make wildly unfounded accusations about homeschooling families, linking the choice to educate at home to being a white supremacist, being in denial about science, and being an advocator of patriarchal values. It’s clear that Bartholet isn’t interested in rational debate, employing much of her own personal bias to color the conversation.
Why Do People Homeschool?
America was founded on the principle of personal freedom — ensuring its citizens a government that respected their right to make their own decisions, not have them dictated by an authoritarian government. This freedom extends to our right to free speech, our right to marry whomever we love, and our right to educate our children how we see fit.
Every parent must choose the form of education that best fits their children’s and family’s needs.
My parents chose to homeschool me throughout high school for logistic reasons (which in turn allowed me to graduate at 16). Other parents might choose the home education route for religious reasons, from distrust in our public school system, or to better serve a child with specific needs.
Every parent must choose the form of education that best fits their children’s and family’s needs — but that’s just the point: we choose, not a group of impersonal bureaucrats who know nothing of our particular circumstances, needs, or values.
Traditional School Has Failed Us for Years
Bartholet makes the argument that keeping children at home creates the perfect space for child abuse, saying that teachers in traditional school settings are “mandated reporters,” obligated to notify authorities of suspected abuse and neglect. But if teachers were capable of noticing every sign of abuse, wouldn’t bullying be a far less prevalent issue at school? Bartholet’s assertion also seems to imply that there’s no chance a child predator could be working at a school, something we all know isn’t true.
But if teachers were capable of noticing every sign of abuse, wouldn’t bullying be a far less prevalent issue at school?
Another common issue parents have with traditional school settings is the fact that one teacher must tend to the needs of roughly 30 kids per class, all with vastly different learning styles. A friend of mine diagnosed with ADD relayed to me that growing up, her teachers would constantly yell at her, angrily calling her disruptive and problematic. In my own experience with traditional school, my failure to understand mathematical concepts that kids younger than me got the hang of in an hour had me convinced that I was exceedingly stupid — and this experience is hardly limited to me.
Statistics Show That Homeschooling Might Be the Way To Go
Bartholet’s argument that homeschooling strips children of their right to “a meaningful education” rings unbelievably hollow with just a quick glance at statistics. Homeschoolers are shown to outperform their public and private-schooled peers in nearly every subject on standardized tests — and their achievements don’t stop there. They’re more likely to start their college career with more college credits and have higher rates of graduation. Not to mention, studies have shown that homeschoolers are likely to be more emotionally, socially, and intellectually advanced than kids in traditional school settings.
Homeschoolers are shown to outperform their public and private-schooled peers in nearly every subject on standardized tests.
Homeschooling done right inevitably makes for free thinkers, students who are self-motivated and independent, and creates closer familial bonds. It allows parents to raise their own children and instill values important to them, without peers and teachers at school becoming their child’s moral guidepost. And in my own personal experience with fellow homeschoolers, they’re some of the most intelligent, friendly, open-minded, and successful people I’ve ever met — people who are “contributing positively” to our society in countless ways.
If Bartholet would like to continue standing on the hill that says homeschooling doesn’t benefit our society, she’ll have to ignore C. S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, Thomas Edison, Florence Nightingale, Mozart, Leonardo Da Vinci, Louisa May Alcott, Beatrix Potter, Frank Lloyd Wright, Joseph Pulitzer, and countless others who were homeschooled.
“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.” -Beatrix Potter
For years, homeschooling families have been looked down upon and stigmatized. It’s been heartening to see families around the country begin to understand the crystal clear benefits of homeschooling, but people like Bartholet, who seem unable to make an unbiased argument, only seek to continue the age-old persecution of not only those who decide to home educate, but anyone who believes in their ability to make the best choices for their own family.