Mark Tapson is the Shillman Fellow on Popular Culture for the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
One of the more significant social and political consequences of the coronavirus pandemic is the fact that countless American parents of public school-enrolled children suddenly find themselves faced with the daunting prospect of having to homeschool those kids for an indefinite period of time. When normalcy returns, most of those families, who for various reasons are unable or unwilling to continue homeschooling, will simply fall back into their old groove and schooling will resume as before. But many parents may find themselves enlightened and excited about homeschooling’s benefits and how it actually operates, as opposed to common misconceptions, which are usually pejorative. This is a possibility that the secular leftist elites in education will not tolerate.
Decades ago progressive activists realized that revolution was best brought about not through overt attacks on the Establishment, but through subversion from within its structures – in particular, the field of education. After all, children are the future, and thus the surest and most direct way to mold the future is to mold impressionable young minds who are a captive audience for progressive, social justice indoctrination. This is why domestic terrorists like Barack Obama’s ghostwriter Bill Ayres and his (literal) partner-in-crime Bernardine Dohrn abandoned bombmaking for the Weather Underground and became respected, credentialed educators working primarily with children (Ayres earned two master’s degrees in Early Childhood Education and a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction; the law professor Dorhn is one of the founders of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law).
The secular left is terrified of losing control of America’s children to homeschoolers, who tend to be (but are not always) conservative and often religious. The secular left also resents the notion of parental control; after all, as former MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry put it bluntly in a network promo several years ago, “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” Harris-Perry too was a college educator. In light of developments due to the pandemic, the left is gearing up to clamp down on any increased interest in homeschooling.
One example of the left’s offensive against homeschoolers: the Daily Caller reports that in June, Harvard Law School will be hosting an invite-only “homeschooling summit” to discuss the “problems of educational deprivation and child maltreatment that too often occur under the guise of homeschooling, in a legal environment of minimal or no oversight.” The event, which will host speakers from education and child welfare policy backgrounds as well as academics, policy advocates, and legislators, is sponsored by Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, in cooperation with the Academy on Violence and Abuse, the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, the Institute for Human Services, the New York Foundling, the William & Mary Bill of Rights Institute, and the Zero Abuse Project. Note how many of those organizations focus on child abuse. That’s because homeschooling parents are often demonized as abusers of their own children in order to justify government intrusion – oops, I mean “oversight” – into private homes.
Among the featured speakers is Harvard Law’s Elizabeth Bartholet, a co-organizer of the event, who has written extensively about the “rapidly growing homeschool phenomena,” which she considers a “threat” to “children and society.” Her June 2019 article, “Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection,” is recommended reading material for the event. The abstract of the piece reads: “This article calls for a radical transformation in the homeschooling regime, and a related rethinking of child rights and reframing of constitutional doctrine. It recommends a presumptive ban on homeschooling, with the burden on parents to demonstrate justification for permission to homeschool” [emphasis added]. Look at that again: a ban on homeschooling, with parents forced to argue for permission from the government to homeschool their own children.
In the article she states that “society loses out” when parents homeschool their children, and homeschooled children are not instilled with the “skills needed to participate productively in society as adults through employment” and will grow up “alienated from society, ignorant of views and values different from their parents.” This is absolutely false. On the contrary, Americans are more aware than ever now that it is our disastrous public school system that churns out students ignorant of their own history and alienated from their parents, their country, their culture, and their God. Our school system from pre-K through graduate school has shifted from transferring knowledge and life skills to children, to indoctrinating them in a social justice agenda while demonizing other viewpoints and even Western culture itself as rife with intolerance, bigotry, racism, and capitalist exploitation.
Bartholet claims that “many” (how many is “many”?) homeschoolers “promote racial segregation and female subservience” and teach their children to – gasp – “question science.” (When progressives use the phrase “question science,” what they mean is that no one should question the leftist politicization of science. They see science not as a method of observation and investigation, but as a belief system that it is blasphemy to “deny,” at least when its conclusions conform to their agenda. Leftists are perfectly comfortable denying science – basic biology, for example – when it doesn’t suit their political needs.)
Bartholet continues her smearing of homeschoolers: “Some homeschooling parents are extreme religious ideologues who live in near-total isolation and hold views in serious conflict with those generally deemed central in our society. For example, some believe that women should be totally subservient to men and educated in ways that promote such subservience,” her article reads.
Another speaker and co-organizer is Prof. James Dwyer of William and Mary School of Law, who argued in his 2001 book Religious Schools v. Children’s Rights that “fundamentalist Christian and Catholic schools may be damaging to children,” through the “excessive restriction of children’s basic liberties, stifling intellectual development, the instilling of dogmatic and intolerant attitudes” as well as “excessive guilt and repression.” Girls especially risk a diminished self-esteem, the book’s summary says. He argues that state policy should be to focus on what is best for children “from a secular perspective.” Because leftist elites, and not parents, know what is best for our children.
A third speaker is Robert Kunzman, associate professor at the Indiana University School of Education and author of Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling, who also argues for a secular perspective in education and for government “regulation” of homeschooling.
My wife and I are conservative Christians and we have homeschooled our young children from day one. We intend to keep doing so all the way through the college level if necessary. Why? Because as I’ve noted, the leftist-dominated education system from top to bottom is a toxic mix of incompetence, political indoctrination, bureaucratic indifference, and increasing lawlessness among the students themselves as school authorities refuse to discipline certain demographic groups. We homeschool because studies show that homeschooled children are better-educated, better-socialized, and better behaved than their public school peers. We homeschool because it strengthens bonds within our family and among our community of like-minded homeschoolers. We homeschool because we want the best for our children and for our country. We do not, as leftist educators and politicians would have you believe, chain our children in the basement, beat them for failing to memorize the Old Testament, and have them salute the Confederate flag. We teach them to think and read broadly and critically. We teach them that science is an ongoing process, not a dogma. We teach them life skills. We pass on our Judeo-Christian values, which built the greatest, freest, and most tolerant civilization in human history. We teach them to appreciate our culture, our country, and our God. We are raising free American patriots, and we’re part of a surging number of American parents doing the same. As the coronavirus pandemic introduces even more parents to this option, watch the intolerant cultural Marxists of the left wield all the power and hate they can muster to suppress us.