A Harvard University law professor decided to write an essay attacking homeschooling. She also suggested that homeschooling be banned by government. She has three concerns. First, that homeschool students underperform public school students,second that homeschooled students will be abused by their parents, and third that homeschool students will remain religious unless they are indoctrinated in government-run public schools.
Here’s an article about her essay in Daily Wire:
Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet is leading the charge against those who actively resist public schools and she believes that the generation currently being homeschooled is an eventual, if not active, breeding ground for racism, sexism, and isolationism.
“Many homeschool 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 claims.
In the essay for Harvard Magazine, Bartholet goes one step further, arguing not just that homeschooling is, itself, problematic, but that it should be snuffed out as a practice by the heavy hand of American government.
“Homeschooling, she says, 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,” the article’s author reports.
“We have an essentially unregulated regime in the area of homeschooling,” Bartholet claims in the piece. Although every state has basic educational standards (that most homeschooling families not only meet but exceed), she believes that “if you look at the legal regime governing homeschooling, there are very few requirements that parents do anything.”
And her assumption, of course, is not that homeschoolers represent a wide swath of American families, but are, instead, largely uneducated themselves and looking to keep their children in the dark: “That means, effectively, that people can homeschool who’ve never gone to school themselves, who don’t read or write themselves.”
Worse still, Bartholet seems to argue, it’s possible these homeschoolers are…religious.
“[S]urveys 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 warns. “Bartholet notes that some of these parents are ‘extreme religious ideologues’ who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy.”
No doubt Bartholet believes that all religious ideologies are somewhat suspect.
Public schools, which can be breeding grounds of inefficiency, and often struggle to educate children on an individual level, Bartholet says, are places of miracles. Children who attend public school “grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.”
For the first issue, about homeschoolers underperforming, the only valid test of this is standardized tests. How do homeschooled students perform on standardized tests compared to public school students?
The SAT 2014 test scores of college-bound homeschool students were higher than the national average of all college-bound seniors that same year. Some 13,549 homeschool seniors had the following mean scores: 567 in critical reading, 521 in mathematics, and 535 in writing (College Board, 2014a). The mean SAT scores for all college-bound seniors in 2014 were 497 in critical reading, 513 in mathematics, and 487 in writing (College Board, 2014b). The homeschool students’ SAT scores were 0.61 standard deviation higher in reading, 0.26 standard deviation higher in mathematics, and 0.42 standard deviation higher in writing than those of all college-bound seniors taking the SAT, and these are notably large differences.
[…]This point-in-time description of SAT scores simply shows that the test scores of homeschool students are higher than the national average for all students. No careful analysis has been done of these scores to determine whether certain background variables might statistically explain the differences in scores. These relatively high SAT scores of home-educated students are consistent with their high SAT scores in preceding research and with research findings on the overall success of college students who were home educated (Gloeckner & Jones, 2013; Murphy, 2012; Ray & Eagleson, 2008).
Her second concern is about child abuse. What would have been useful herewould be for her to cite a study comparing rates of child abuse in homeschools versus public schools. She didn’t do that. But Matt Walsh had something in this Daily Wire article:
A study commissioned by the Department of Education found that a full 10 percent of children in public school are victims of sexual misconduct by teachers and staff. And that’s to say nothing of the many thousands of children who have been sexually abused at school by other students. Comparing this to the rate of child abuse at home — and even comparing sexual abuse at school to sexual abuse and every other kind of abuse at home — it seems apparent that a child is more likely to suffer abuse at school than at home. So, yes, an abused child who is homeschooled will not be rescued from his situation by a vigilant teacher. That is a tragedy. But there are many more children who are not abused at home and then are abused at school, which means that schools more often play the role of abuser than protector.
On top of all of this, public school also offers bullying, suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, social ostracization, and peer pressure.
Her third concern is accurate – homeschooled students do retain their Christian faith more than students who are indoctrinated by secular leftist unionized teachers in government-run public schools. But when you think about how public school teachers only get raises if they graduate enough students who want to vote for the Big Government political party, that’s not surprising. Parents see education as a way for their kids to learn useful skills in order to find high-paying work. The fact that most homeschooled children aren’t godless moral relativists isn’t a defect in homeschooling.