by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet gained notoriety last April when her law-review article calling for a “presumptive ban” of homeschooling went viral. That was, of course, right around when another notorious viral event began to unfold, causing worldwide school closures.
In 2020, homeschooling became an educational safe harbor for millions of children and parents who suddenly found themselves home together. Indeed, this past pandemic year may have permanently changed the educational landscape in America, as many of those who sought the refuge of homeschooling during a distressing time discovered the joys of seeing their child’s “eureka” learning moments as they happened.
Unfortunately for Professor Bartholet, her timing was quite bad.
Well, now she’s b-a-a-a-ck — this time with a new recommendation that is as bad now as her timing was last year.
As part of a recent interview grading the first 100 days of the Biden administration vis-à-vis children and families, Harvard Law Today asked her what President Biden should do “going forward.” Staying true to pre-pandemic form, Bartholet said, “I would like to see the Biden administration’s educational agenda expand to include reform of the current homeschooling regime.”
To be clear, by “reform,” she means that the federal government should crack down on homeschooling. …
… Professor Bartholet’s cynical view of homeschoolers is only exceeded by her incorrect view of the federal government’s power to supersede the states’ role in education. Every state requires homeschooling parents to educate their children; some do so by statute, while others do so via administrative regulation. States as culturally diverse as California and Texas treat homeschools as small private schools and regulate them accordingly. Calling on the federal government to step in to change this 50-state approach to private educational policy is wrongheaded, dangerous, and unconstitutional.
President Biden and the Department of Education would do well to steer clear of Professor Bartholet’s advice.