Toppling the Homeschooling "Regime"

For Instilling Values in Children, Parents Need not Apply

The onset of warm weather and summer will certainly bring welcome respite for the many parents who have found themselves teaching their own children in the wake of recent school closures. Likely, most of these parents will have developed a new appreciation for those patient and seemingly heroic teachers who daily dutifully instruct the children in their charge. Hopefully, some parents will have discovered they enjoy spending time learning with their kids. Perhaps still others, after seeing first-hand what it is their younglings are learning, will decide they would like to have more say, and may even decide to homeschool for the long term.

Fortunately, in the U.S., parents still have freedom to exercise the educational options they see as best suited for their children. However, if we left education policy decisions up to Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, parents would have no such choice. In a scathing 80-page critique published in the Arizona Law Review[1] the professor – no stranger to hyperbolic speech – refers to the homeschool community she clearly abhors as a “regime.” Mincing no words, Bartholet’s desire to topple this oppressive regime is evident in her draconian call for a “presumptive ban on homeschooling.” Her justification? Homeschool parents pose an existential threat to the well-being of their own children and society at large for a variety of reasons, of which I will address just a few. 

Because homeschool parents deny their children the right to a government-sanctioned education, the good professor opines the repugnant regime presents concerns not just academic, but more ominously, democratic. For it is only in the halls of the government institution, children are made aware of “important” cultural values (values at times that contradict the more traditional notions of faith and family). Of these institutionally inculcated values we might ask, important by whose standards?

To Bartholet, these values are important to the “state” and as such, “. . . the state has a powerful interest in educating children in ways that enable positive participation in the larger society.” So for a society to work, the values esteemed by the state by mandate need to be conferred on and appropriated by all children. As parents, we might ask, what if this faceless state adopts values that are dangerous? Or anti-science? Or values that undermine certain civil liberties?

The professor assures us that compulsory education, in preparing children for the task of responsible citizenship, exposes children to the values of tolerance. A fascinating point on her part, as merely a cursory reading of her critique of the regime demonstrates she has little tolerance for families who want to raise their own children in the traditions of their own faith and values; the very same faith and values which used to be the norm in American culture, and historically have been largely responsible for the stabilization of society (such as the idea of marriage being between a man and a woman).

The portrayal of institutionalized education as a bastion of the inculcation of tolerance is most remarkable. Talk to any parent or teacher who dared to ask that their district permit but a few lessons in the biology classroom – that would articulate skepticism of Darwinism informed by current research by origin-of-life scientists – if they were met with such “tolerance.” One can understand a state-funded institution refusing to encourage the establishment of a religious ideology, as might be seen in teaching creationism, but why are these districts opposed to teaching healthy, informed skepticism towards Darwinism? Could it be that such skepticism does not align with the sacred materialistic “values” the state supports?

Bartholet indicts soldiers of the regime further, stating, “They reject mainstream, democratic culture and values and want to ensure that their children adopt their own particular religious and social views.” One could easily argue that the newly minted transgender dogma, which is being forced down the throats of children as young as kindergarten, is hardly mainstream. In fact, most Americans do not believe that one can change their gender by simple oral fiat. For any classroom advocating such nonsense, truly mainstream, democratic cultures and values are grossly undermined while orthodox biology is turned on its head!

While one reads of many anecdotal accounts of true neglect and abuse by people who have no business homeschooling, it is apparent Bartholet simply despises religious people who do not want their children growing up imbibing Darwinism, feminism, transgenderism, and moral relativism. Now, lest private school families think homeschoolers are the only ones in Bartholet’s crosshairs, she is advocating for greater restrictions on religious schools as well. Beware, she is coming after a religious school near you.

With the welcome signs of summer, we should all breathe a sigh of relief that the school year is ending, and that the Harvard professor does not control education policy. Although no homeschool family is perfect, the decisions regarding faith, family, and society should not rest with a faceless, government bureaucracy. Such a position places way too much trust, and too much power in an administrative state, which cannot replace the wisdom, judgement and attentiveness of responsible parents.


[1] Bartholet, E. (2020). Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection. Forthcoming, Arizona Law Review, 62(1), 19-23.

Emily has had a lifelong appreciation for science, teaching, and research. She graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fresno with a BS degree in molecular biology and a minor in cognitive psychology. As an undergraduate, she conducted summer research in immunology, microbiology, behavioral and cognitive psychology, scanning tunneling microscopy and genetics; she also published research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, and co-authored a chapter on scanning tunneling microscopy. She is currently completing a Master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology at University of Cincinnati and a Certificate in Apologetics with the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Emily has had the joy of teaching high school chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, anatomy & physiology, and pre-engineering classes over the last thirteen years. As a former Darwinian evolutionist, Emily enjoys stating the case for intellectual agency, considering the arguments posited by the intelligent design movement as much more credible than those proffered by Darwinists.

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