Harvard Professor Calls For Ban On Homeschooling: ‘It Gives The Powerful Ones Total Authority’

Written by Ann Brown
A Harvard professor calls for a ban on homeschooling. “It gives the powerful ones total authority,” Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet said. (Photo: Harvard)

Does homeschooling promote white supremacy? According to Harvard law Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet, it does and she’s calling for a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling.

In a paper published by the Arizona Law Review, Bartholet wrote that “homeschooling is a threat to children’s rights, a method of promoting white supremacy, and a drain on democratic society,” Daily Wire reported.

Bartholet isn’t the only Harvard educator who feels this way. In June, Harvard is slated to host a “homeschooling summit,” according to the Daily Caller News Foundation. The focus of the discussion is not on whether homeschooling is a cost-effective method of education for many Americans, but if homeschooling actually does an injustice to children by depriving them of the socialization to get into school.

A professor of law and director of Harvard Law School’s child advocacy legal clinic, Bartholet said she believes homeschooling can be a “breeding ground for racism, sexism, and isolationism.”

“Many home school precisely because they want to isolate their children from ideas and values central to public education and to our democracy. Many promote racial segregation and female subservience. Many question science. Many are determined to keep their children from exposure to views that might enable autonomous choice about their future lives,” she wrote.

Approximately 3 percent of the school-age population was homeschooled in the 2011–2012 school year. Among children who were homeschooled, a higher percentage were white (83 percent) than Black (5 percent), Hispanic (7 percent), and Asian or Pacific Islander (2 percent), according to the National Center for Education Statistics. 

“Homeschooling,” Bartholet said, “not only violates children’s right to a ‘meaningful education’ and their right to be protected from potential child abuse, but may keep them from contributing positively to a democratic society.”

According to Bartholet, homeschooling is attractive to conservative Christians and religious extremists.

Surveys of homeschoolers show that a majority of such families (by some estimates, up to 90 percent) are driven by conservative Christian beliefs, and seek to remove their children from mainstream culture, Harvard Magazine reported. “Bartholet notes that some of these parents are ‘extreme religious ideologues’ who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy.”

Of course, Bartholet’s thoughts have sparked controversy. 

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“Aside from its biting, one-sided portrayal of homeschooling families that mischaracterizes the vast majority of today’s homeschoolers, it is filled with misinformation and incorrect data,” wrote Harvard graduate and homeschooler Kerry McDonald in a letter to the magazine’s editor.

Bartholet “is concerned with families having this power, while I worry about giving that power to the government,” McDonald said.

Bartholet, however, stressed in her essay that parents should not be the ones formally educating their own children.

“The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18? I think that’s dangerous,” Bartholet said. “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless and to give the powerful ones total authority.”