It is essential in what some have described as a culture war, to listen carefully to what the other side is postulating. At times we are guilty of falling in love with the sound of our own voice, which oftentimes blinds us to one of the most devastating weapons we can use against the enemy: his own words. The same is true in the education debate.
As Holy Writ declares: “I will rejoice in thy salvation: the Gentiles are fastened in the destruction, which they made. In this snare, which they hid, is their foot taken.” (Psalm 9:16)
Elizabeth Bartholet, Wasserstein public interest professor of law and faculty director of the Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, railed against homeschooling in her Arizona Law Review, which was covered last week.
She could not hide her disdain for homeschooling parents, some of whom she says; “believe that women should be subservient to men; others believe that race stamps some people as inferior to others. Many don’t believe in the scientific method, looking to the Bible instead as their source for understanding the world.”
It was rather funny (strange not ha ha) that Bartholet singles out the Bible and by extension Christianity for criticism. Hasidic Jews and some Moslems believe in the superiority of their respective races and languages, and they also believe in the woman’s subservience to men, in particular her husband.
Yet it is the Christian doctrine that uniquely comes under fire from Bartholet.
First, the professor attempts to tear at the legal basis for homeschooling education. “The legal claim made in defense of the current homeschooling regime is based on a dangerous idea about parent rights” Bartholet opens. “That those with enormous physical and other power over infants and children should be subject to virtually no check on that power. That parents should have monopoly control over children’s lives, development, and experience.”
But Bartholet’s critique of “absolute power” isn’t absolute. As will be seen later on. It is the absolute power of parents “who are committed to beliefs and values counter to those of the larger society” that really frightens the law professor.
Which is probably why she states: “the legal right of the parent to homeschool their children is not only inconsistent with the child’s right to what has been called an “open future”—the right to exposure to alternative views and experiences essential for children to grow up to exercise meaningful choices about their own future views, religions, lifestyles, and work.”
As the professor writes, public education isn’t solely about academics, nor the child’s preparation for future employment. It’s really “[P]reparation for citizenship,” including exposure to the values of tolerance and deliberative democracy…”
She views this “as a primary goal of public education from its origins.”
So much for readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic.
Bartholet adds: “Based on both child rights and state rights, Rob Reich concludes that “at a bare minimum one function of any school environment must be to expose children to and engage students with values and beliefs other than those of their parents.”
Agreed. Although “to manipulate” ought to replace “to expose children to”.
Bartholet goes on to confirm that she really doesn’t have a problem with parents who homeschool “because they feel that their children will be discriminated against in the public schools, denied disability accommodations, or bullied”; or “because of the flaws they see in traditional education, such as an overemphasis on rote learning and testing.” or because they believe that they “can provide their children a superior education because of the limitations of their local schools or because of the parents’ advanced qualifications, ability to engage superior tutors, or access to online learning opportunities.”
Her problem is with the fact that “The majority [of homeschooling parents] are, however, descendants of the original conservative Christian wing.” and that “Estimates range, as discussed above, from a majority up to 90%”.
Straight from the horse’s mouth.
Those are the homeschooling parents, Bartholet finds dangerous and a threat to the liberal democratic order. Those who she considers “conservative Christian”.
She adds that “These parents are committed to homeschooling largely because they reject mainstream, democratic culture and values and want to ensure that their children adopt their own particular religious and social views.”
And she’s not talking about all religions.
“Many belong to fundamentalist religious groups, groups that Michael Rebell describes in his important new book, Flunking Democracy, as believing “that exposing their children to ideas such as secularism, atheism, feminism, and value relativism is inconsistent with the values they espouse and undermines their ability to inculcate in their children their beliefs in the sacred, absolute truth of the Bible.”
No mention of the Torah or the Koran. No mention of Moslems or Jews. Those religions aren’t deemed a threat to the established world order.
Bartholet continues her anti-Christian tirade: “Many use alternative textbooks that teach creationism instead of evolution. Many seek to create for their children a system of “total socialization” aimed at negating the influence of competing socialization agents.”
What’s funny about Bartholet’s assertion is that public schools by her own admission, aim to do the exact thing she’s criticising so-called “Christian” homeschool parents of doing. Moral relativists can have the rights to absolute power over children but not their parents. No, that’s dangerous.
“As Dwyer and Peters say in their recent comprehensive book on homeschooling,” Bartholet continues, “many religious homeschoolers object in principle to some core goals of public education: [T]hey reject the value of independent thinking about values and aims in life, they oppose instruction in scientific methodologies . . . and they want to constrain their daughters’ lives to a single occupation— housewife. To the extent parents in this group do value secular learning, they treat it—even basic literacy—as of little importance compared to unflinching acceptance of religious doctrine and reactionary political views.”
Here we go again with the myth that Christians (nominal or otherwise) reject as a whole, scientific methodologies. Again, theories such as evolution, which a true Christian must reject, are not based on scientific methodologies. Evolution is a pagan philosophy which has been proven false time and time again.
Now back to Bartholet’s paper.
“Robin West and Rob Reich point out that many of these children are being raised in ways at odds with ideas about the importance of autonomy central to our liberal tradition: Unregulated homeschooling, therefore, badly compromises the development of capacities for autonomy in the children subjected to it . . . . [T]he children in some of these homes are being schooled quite intentionally for lives of submission to authority, not for autonomy . . . . They are discouraged from developing either the will or the skills to break those bonds.”
And this theory by West and Reich as cited by Bartholet is quite revealing. If homeschooling were such a threat to the “development of capacities for autonomy in children” apparently only available in public schools, then why is the autonomous decision to homeschool–made by parents who most likely attended public school–such a problem? Shouldn’t such an “autonomous” decision be lauded by the promoters of democracy?
Bartholet continues: “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.”
“Milton Gaither,” writes Bartholet, “one of the leading experts on homeschooling, writes: “Throughout the 1990s and 2000s some homeschooling leaders pushed the Sectarian wing of the movement in a more and more radical direction. Some held that women should not vote. Some held that women must wear head coverings or that daughters should not go to college.” The “Quiverfull” and “Stay at Home Daughter” movements endorse confining women to the domestic sphere and subjecting them to the control of first their fathers and then their husbands.”
Because Women’s lib has worked out so well for women hasn’t it?
Throughout the Law Review, Bartholet makes it clear why she holds that “The nature of the homeschooling population presents dangers for children and society.” And those dangers are of a Christian (or so-called) Christian root. Not only because “It means that many of the children involved will not be prepared for participation in employment and other productive activities in the mainstream world.” No! The main danger according to Bartholet and her ilk, lies in the prospect that “many [children] will grow up alienated from society, ignorant of views and values different from their parents”. Parents who profess to be Christian.