by Rebecca Kocsis

Many excellent articles have been written by some very intelligent people successfully refuting Professor Bartholet’s erroneous and often unsubstantiated statements in her paper, Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection as reviewed in the Harvard Magazine article The Risks of Homeschooling by Erin O’Donnell. Because of that I don’t feel the need to go through every issue raised here. I would direct your attention to CHEA’s response written by John McGowan, CHEA Vice President and board member for CHEA’s general comments.

Rather, I‘m going to pick up where McGowan left off. “In the end, parental rights and homeschool rights are one and the same and they must be defended together.” The crux of the matter truly is much more broad than homeschool freedom; it’s about parental rights. 

The anti-parent and anti-Christian comments by Bartholet and the thunderous response, especially by those who usually don’t speak out on homeschool matters, has exposed what we in the homeschool community have known for years. The academic elite and those who seek to shape public policy believe that children belong to the state; that the state has supreme authority and doles out parents’ rights as they see fit. Homeschooling is a threat because, as Bartholet believes, “Homeschooling is a realm of near-absolute parental power.”

That parents, or anyone else for that matter, should be allowed to teach children what they see fit runs against the grain of her statist worldview. People Like Prof. Bartholet are threatened by anyone who thinks differently from her and what she perceives as the mainstream. 

This “war against homeschooling” is really a war against parental rights. It is being waged primarily in the media with the end goal to sway public opinion and policy makers. They are vilifying homeschoolers first, in an attempt to influence legislators to crack down on and regulate the movement to the point of banning it for all but a few. They use horrific cases of child abuse and words like “children’s rights” and “children’s advocacy” never minding what they really mean, to garner sympathy for their cause. 

However, they won’t stop with homeschooling. Any institution that allows parents to choose something other than state controlled schooling will come under attack. Next on the agenda will be private schools, Christian schools, and private and Christian universities. Quoting Bartholet, “Some private schools pose problems of the same nature as homeschooling. Religious and other groups with views and values far outside the mainstream operate private schools with very little regulation ensuring that children receive adequate education or exposure to alternative perspectives.” Her point being that only the state and state regulation can ensure that children receive “adequate education and exposure to alternative perspectives.”  

I’d like to pose a question to you that was recently posed to me. “Are children born into the state? Or the family?”

The family, of course. Parents have been advocating for their children since the day they were born. They advocate for them with medical professionals to see they get the care they need. They advocate for them in their neighborhoods to see that they are safe. They even advocate for them in the state schools to see they get the protection and educational services they require when the school has fallen short. Parents love their children the most, and know them best. Parents are children’s first and best advocates. 

Parental rights is what is really at stake here. As homeschool group leaders, it’s vital to keep the messaging clear. Homeschool freedom will only exist as long as our parental rights are intact. It’s worth protecting. Since this battle is being waged primarily in the media, now is the time to write letters to editors of your local paper. Comment on articles on Facebook. Encourage your families and well-spoken teens to do the same. Share your positive experiences.

Don’t get drug into side arguments about homeschool failures, as if we haven’t seen plenty of public school failures, and child abuse statistics, as if that doesn’t happen in state schools. 

Elitists like Professor Bartholet and her colleagues will not rest until the state has effectively replaced parents rights to their satisfaction, perhaps erase them altogether. Without parental rights, there will be no homeschool freedom. There will be no right to direct the upbringing of your children. Parental rights, this is a hill to die on.