Anti-homeschooling sentiments are nothing new. From the socialization concerns in the 1980’s to this past fall when we reportedly cost Harrison County two million dollars, homeschoolers have often found themselves an easy target.
CHEWV was saddened but not surprised, then, that this past legislative session ushered in a new round of accusations and calls for regulation–not subtly, via legislation never seeing the light of day, but overtly. These conversations within our legislative leadership required our constant vigilance throughout the entire session.
On the heels of that session came the news that Harvard Law School’s Elizabeth Bartholet has called for a national presumptive ban on homeschooling. Bartholet maintains that homeschoolers lack access to a “meaningful education” and calls homeschooling a “threat” to children and society. In response, constitutional law attorney and homeschool graduate Jenna Ellis writes:
The danger of the Harvard piece is that it suggests to parents that they should question their own capabilities when educating their children and be worried about socialization and contributions to our society. A book could be written on how many things are wrong with that philosophically. Do we really want Harvard or the government to determine what defines “meaningful contribution” to society?
Following the outcry from homeschoolers, distinguished homeschool graduates, and educational professionals, an invitation-only June 2020 Harvard conference, organized by Bartholet to discuss the need to limit and regulate homeschooling, was recently postponed. We pray that this delay is evidence that such an unsubstantiated attack on a minority will not succeed in shaping public sentiment and policy–whether nationally or in WV.
However, this postponement must be understood as only a temporary win. Despite empirical data that consistently demonstrates the verifiable, beneficial effects of homeschooling on children, detractors of homeschooling will always invent new arguments in an effort to restrict homeschool freedoms. In her article, Bartholet goes on to claim that homeschooling “violates children’s rights” to “be protected from potential child abuse.”
Corey DeAngelis, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and self-proclaimed as “not religious,” countered the Harvard article’s connection of homeschooling with the potential for abuse:
The article also forgot to mention the 2004 report from the US Department of Education estimating that 1 in 10 students in government schools will experience school-employee sexual misconduct by the time they graduate from high school.
By Bartholet’s own logic, she should call for a presumptive ban on government schooling.
In light of multiple recent news articles about abuse in WV public schools, DeAngelis’s point seems like fair criticism. In fact, current research indicates that abuse is much less common in the homeschool population.
While troubling, Bartholet’s article represents only a small fraction of a bigger issue–an issue closer to home that must be fought for on the basis of parental rights and religious freedom. If these two pillars erode, our freedom to homeschool is at risk.
Recognizing that the world will continue to try to squeeze us into its own mold, how can we as parents help defend our homeschooling freedoms? Here are three key truths from God’s Word to remember, proclaim, and live by:
• We are accountable to God, not the government, for the nurture, training, and instruction of our children. “For I have acknowledged [Abraham] as My own so that he may teach and command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD and to do what is just and righteous, so that the LORD may bring Abraham what He has promised him.” – Genesis 18:19
• We honor God’s trust by doing our utmost to provide for and teach our children with love and integrity. “Set your minds and hearts on all the words which I command you this day, which you shall command to your children, that they may be watchful to do all the words of this law. For it is not an empty and worthless trifle for you; it is your very life.” – Deuteronomy 32:46-47 “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” – Proverbs 16:7
The Lord has blessed us with a firm foundation. Standing rock solid on His promises, we can pray that fairness, reason, and truth prevail. In the end, it is the Lord’s favor that will keep homeschooling freedoms intact. May He continue to shed His grace upon us, and may we continue to appreciate the freedoms He has already granted us – and how fragile they really are.
A response to the header in Harvard Magazine , our header was drawn by WV homeschool graduate Amelia (Amy) Welsh. A 2019 graduate of WVU with a Bachelor of Music degree, she is presently pursuing both a Masters in Voice Performance and a Masters in Speech Language Pathology at the University of Louisville. Amy shared, “I added the girl holding the hand of the little boy because I thought about how homeschooling encourages friendships of different ages that you don’t always see in kids who go to school, and that is something that I really love about homeschooling.”