(Reprinted from HSLDA Series, August 18, 2020)
The Last Word
by: J. Michael Smith, President, HSLDA
As we wrap up our series of articles addressing Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet’s absurd and unsupported allegations against homeschooling, I want to take a moment to reflect on the reasons behind this series.
If you haven’t had a chance to read through the series yet, I hope you take the opportunity to do so. We launched this series because of the outrage felt throughout the homeschool movement when Professor Bartholet’s Arizona Law Review article hit the “newsstand” in April. Together with homeschooling parents, students, and grads across America, we were very concerned that homeschooling be represented accurately and honestly in the public arena.
Homeschooling allows loving parents—who know their children best—the freedom and responsibility to make educational decisions that are best for each child.
The article was so unrepresentative of the homeschool movement that we had to correct the record—in fact, the article contained so much misinformation and hyperbole that we did something we have never done: we had all our attorneys write articles in response. We plan to turn the series into a book, presenting homeschooling—homeschool parents, students, laws, and freedom—in the proper and accurate light.
When Erin O’Donnell’s Harvard Crimson article, “The Risks of Homeschooling,” brought Professor Bartholet’s agenda to the public in mid-April, we chose a few of our lawyers to write opinion articles and conduct interviews for print, online, broadcast, social media, and academic mediums, to present the truth about homeschooling and the law surrounding it.
But all of our lawyers had something to say—especially the four who were homeschooled. So we said, “Let’s all get involved.” And we did. We also invited some other homeschool and education leaders to weigh in.
The result? Sixteen separate articles addressing different aspects of the professor’s allegations against homeschooling and educational freedom.
Bartholet’s dangerous assertions
The professor’s law-review article is an all-out attack on homeschooling, as was a summit at Harvard she was planning with others who agree with her perspective. Here are some of their assertions and allegations against parents, homeschooling parents, and homeschooling in general:
- The state is more qualified to make important decisions for children than parents are.
- Homeschooling parents are not competent to provide an adequate education for their children.
- Homeschooling parents are more likely to abuse and neglect their children because the families are not sufficiently monitored by state-mandated child abuse reporters.
- Most homeschooling parents isolate their children so that the kids will not be exposed to different cultures, lifestyles, politics, religions, and other aspects of society.
- Children should have mandatory exposure to a public school experience to overcome their parent’s indoctrination.
- Children should have the constitutional right to attend a public school, even over their parents’ preference for homeschooling.
- Homeschooling should presumptively be deemed illegal.
- Only a few families could homeschool, with the permission and oversight of the state.
- Homeschooling practice and history are flawed. Homeschooling law, favorable cases, and the US Constitution, which recognize the parents’ right and high duty to raise and educate their children, are wrong and need to be changed.
- State legislatures should swiftly add regulation to homeschooling to start the erosion of parents’ authority, leading to the ultimate control of the state over home education.
In some recent interviews, Professor Bartholet appears to be backing down from some of her outrageous claims, but the record speaks for itself. Her Arizona Law Review article clearly advocates for the harshest of restrictions on homeschooling seen to date.
And part of the record is that Professor Bartholet, along with William & Mary Law School professor James Dwyer, organized a summit on homeschooling, designed to implement her goal of abolishing homeschooling as we know it today. Although the summit was cancelled, it was clear from the event schedule and speaker lineup that these two professors and those involved in their summit are trying to start a movement to substantially regulate homeschooling.
Our purpose: To set the record straight
The modern renewal of the homeschool movement is one of the greatest social movements in our history. While research continues to establish the effectiveness of homeschooling as an educational option, I believe the benefits to families, children, and to our nation are immeasurable. Let’s look at just a few:
- Homeschooling has saved taxpayers millions—perhaps even billions—as hundreds of thousands of parents have taken on the full financial responsibility of their kids’ education, saving an average of $10,000 a year it would have cost the public school to teach each child.
- Homeschooling allows loving parents—who know their children best—the freedom and responsibility to make educational decisions that are best for each child.
- Homeschooled students grow up to become self-sufficient, smart, well-educated, engaged, service-oriented, highly productive adults. They confidently live out their own beliefs and treat others with dignity and respect. These are the kind of caring community members who make great citizens.
Wrapping it all up
I hope you will come to the same conclusion that we have for 37 years: homeschooling is worth the fight it takes to preserve it.
Freedom and committed parental involvement are the keys to homeschooling. Homeschooling requires outside-the-box thinking. Each child deserves and benefits from a highly personalized education program. Homeschooling is the best way to provide that.
Opponents of homeschooling will always be looking to control homeschooling.
HSLDA’s goal, objective, and commitment is to keep homeschooling free.
After reading this series, we hope that you share this goal.
To learn more about HSLDA, visit: https://hslda.org/
 O’Donnell, Erin. 2020. “The Risks of Homeschooling.” Harvard Magazine. https://harvardmagazine.com/2020/05/right-now-risks-homeschooling.
 Jones, Darren. 2020. “Harvard Summit to Discuss Regulating Homeschooling.” HSLDA, March 27, 2020. https://hslda.org/post/harvard-summit-to-discuss-regulating-homeschooling.
 United States Census Bureau. 2020. “Spending Per Pupil Increased for Sixth Consecutive Year.” Release Number CB20-TPS.21, May 11, 2020. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/school-system-finances.html.
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