Jim Daly: Harvard professor slams homeschooling – these are the facts she ignores

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Homeschooling has grown exponentially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as academic institutions have shifted instruction from the classroom to the living room.

Prior to COVID-19, approximately 2 million children in America were being taught at home – a fraction of the nearly 57 million students who attend traditional school.

Commentators are speculating what percentage of kids will remain at home, post-pandemic. It’s impossible to know, of course, but it’s likely there will be some converts.

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Whether drawn to the convenience or the specialized and individualized instruction it provides, homeschooling offers countless benefits for both child and parent.

But not according to Harvard University, whose magazine is out this week with a scathing rebuke of the practice.

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Elizabeth Bartholet, a professor at Harvard’s law school, qualified parents’ oversight of their child’s education as “essentially authoritarian control” and deemed it “dangerous” for children to spend their day with their mother and father.

“I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority,” she stated.

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In other words, parents are dictators who are brainwashing children – but somehow schools are benevolent repositories of open-minded instruction?

Seriously, professor?

This Ivy League-led anti-homeschooling screed is the latest in a long line of attacks on the rights of moms and dads to educate their own children.

In the history of the world, government-sponsored schools are a relatively recent tradition. For centuries, most believed that the family should be the centerpiece of every child’s education. As a result, most children learned at home, and their formal education was part of broader life.

There is debate on the motivation behind compulsory government-sponsored schools, with some suggesting it was driven by the state’s desire to control – and others seeing more charitable reasons behind its implementation and rise.

Regardless of its origins, can fair-minded people not acknowledge that parents have every right to choose their child’s educational route? This should be especially true given the fact that states still reserve the right of oversight, with many requiring children to test or demonstrate in some form or fashion that they’re adequately progressing.

Children who are schooled at home perform academically better than their public schooled counterparts by a degree of 30 percent. They also have higher SAT/ACT scores as well as better grade point averages in college. 

Adding to the incredulity of Bartholet’s outrageous statement is the fact that children who are schooled at home perform academically better than their public schooled counterparts by a degree of 30 percent. They also have higher SAT/ACT scores as well as better grade point averages in college.

I think homeschooling and homeschoolers represent a powerful force to help save and serve not only the next generation but also preserve and protect many of the ideals upon which this country was built.

I’m talking about our first freedoms – to life and religious liberty.

In my 30-plus years at Focus on the Family, I’ve traveled to over 70 countries, but one of my favorite things to do is have meals with the families who support our ministry. We sit around a big table, probably eat too much – but we get to talk. And I can almost always tell if the kids in the family are homeschooled.

They are polite, attentive, interesting and interested. They ask questions and listen to the answers. And when I ask them something, they actually give full sentence answers, all while looking you straight in the eye.

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I’m not suggesting public school is inferior. Our own boys are the product of an excellent charter school system here in Colorado Springs. But I don’t believe any bureaucrat – or law professor from Harvard University – should be dictating to parents what form of education is best for their child.

Let's pray that in the aftermath of this pandemic that there will be an increased appreciation for education and educators – as well as a renewed spirit of respect for parents to choose their child's educational path. 

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