A Harvard University law professor says homeschooling is dangerous because it allows parents to have "authoritarian control" over their children.
What are the details?
Featured in an article for Harvard Magazine, Elizabeth Bartholet — Wasserstein public interest professor of law and faculty director of the Law School's Child Advocacy Program — argued that homeschooling for children is simply a means for depriving children of any "meaningful education."
In the article, "The Risks of Homeschooling," Bartholet wrote, "We have an essentially unregulated regime in the area of homeschooling. If you look at the legal regime governing homeschooling, there are very few requirements that parents do anything."
She pointed out that children are missing out on the experience of a public education and will likely not be able to contribute to a democratic society because of their lack of such an experience and such "detrimental" isolation.
"The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18?" she asked. "I think that's dangerous. I think it's always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.
"From the beginning of compulsory education in this country, we have thought of the government as having some right to educate children so that they become active, productive participants in the larger society," she wrote. "But it's also important that children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people's viewpoints."
Bartholet did not appear to provide any fact-based information throughout her remarks to highlight the dangers of homeschooling, and, instead, offered up her opinion as a teacher of civil rights and family law. Bartholet, who said that she specializes in child welfare, adoption, and reproductive technology, also asserted that children are at a higher risk of enduring abuse due to being cut off from teachers and other non-family authority figures.
Was there any kind of response?
Melba Pearson, an honors graduate from Harvard University, took note of Bartholet's remarks and refused to remain silent.
In a now-viral article published on Medium, Pearson — who was homeschooled prior to her Harvard University admission — wrote, "I was proud of my school, until last night, when I read Harvard Magazine's article on the so-called 'risks' of homeschooling."
"In essence, this article is not an attack on a form of education some might view as lesser quality," she added. "In essence, this article is an attack on the fundamental rights and freedoms that make our country (and until recently, institutions such as Harvard) what they are."
She continued, "The idea that a government, already so inefficient and inadequate in so many areas, can care for and educate every child better than its parent is wrong."
Pearson insisted that she was accepted at the prestigious school — and excelled — because she was homeschooled.
"[O]f that, I am proud," she concluded. "It is deeply disappointing that Harvard is choosing and promoting an intellectual totalitarian path that calls for a ban of the liberties that helped me and countless others succeed, for it is those liberties and ideals that have made America the great nation it is today."