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Abolish Homeschools, Abolish Parenting

Harvard University announced a private conference concerning homeschools in America.

We will convene leaders in education and child welfare policy, legislators and legislative staff, academics and policy advocates, to discuss child rights in connection with homeschooling in the United States.[1]

This announcement caused great outrage, largely because all of the invitees oppose homeschooling.[2] As of this article’s posting, the conference has been conveniently postponed – blame the Coronavirus Panic for this. Rest assured, the conference will happen sometime soon.

The conference seems to have been prompted by publication in Arizona Law Review of the article Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection, by Elizabeth Bartholet.[3] In her article Bartholet asserts that homeschooled children are undereducated and abused. She seeks ways of criminalizing, or otherwise abolishing, homeschools. She also threatens private schools.

… it would be deeply unfair to allow those who can afford private schools to isolate their children from public values in private schools reflecting the parents’ values, while denying this possibility to those unable to afford such schools.[4]

Articles by City Journal[5] and Institute for Family Studies[6] take Bartholet to task for her article, in that she contorts and misuses research to buttress her arguments. These rebuttals did a good job of debunking her.

But Bartholet only incidentally aims at homeschools. Her real goal is to advance her version of “child rights,” especially at the expense of parent rights. This article examines who gets to direct a child’s education, and why. It also illustrates how Bartholet’s concept of child rights would break the concept of parenting and our society that is built on it.

The claim: Homeschools hurt us all

In her homeschooling article, Bartholet claims that homeschool parents are tyrants because they’re guiding their children’s education without outside checks or influences.

Homeschooling is a realm of near-absolute parental power. This power is inconsistent with important rights supposedly guaranteed to children under state constitutions and state legislation throughout the land.[7]

She says that this sort of guidance impairs their children’s education.

This homeschooling regime poses real dangers to children and to society. Children are at serious risk of losing out on opportunities to learn things that are essential for employment and for exercising meaningful choices in their future lives.[8]

But homeschooling isn’t her only target. She also hates private schools.

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 educations or exposure to alternative perspectives.

Policymakers should impose greater restrictions on private schools for many of the same reasons that they should restrict homeschooling.[9]

Whose values get taught?

Bartholet thinks that it’s a horrible thing for parents to have a lot of influence in a child’s schooling. Where does this influence, this so-called tyranny, come from? This influence, these rights – which are not tyranny – come from our culture, religion, and legal precedent.

By tradition and law, the parents have the primary responsibility for a child’s custody, care, and nurture. These rights and responsibilities are confirmed in many court cases. For example:

The history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition. – Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972) [10]

These rights include the right to influence the child’s thinking and values, both at home and through schooling. While some parents are satisfied with public school offerings, there is nothing wrong with parents who seek school alternatives for their children, ones more compatible with their own worldview.

Bartholet has problems with this. She would replace the parents’ wisdom with that of child advocates.

This legal claim is 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, religion, lifestyles, and work.

It is inconsistent with state laws and constitutional provisions guaranteeing child rights to education. It is inconsistent with state and federal laws guaranteeing children protection against abuse and neglect.[11]

If there is tyranny, it comes through child advocates like Bartholet. They assert that a child is always entitled to the most libertine of worldviews, and would use the government to force this worldview upon the child. They want to revoke the parents’ rights to guide education, giving this instead to a cadre of social workers.

Whose child is it?

It turns out that these child advocates hate families. They claim that “parental rights” amounts to kidnapping. James Dwyer, a close associate of Bartholet, has said:

But it is only because state statutes make biological parents the legal parents of a newborn child and give legal parents presumptive custody rights that birth parents have legal permission to do what would otherwise be kidnapping—that is, to take a person to their home and confine the person there without that person’s consent.[12]

And elsewhere:

The reason that parent-child relationship exists is because the state confers legal parenthood on people through its paternity and maternity laws.[13]

According to Dwyer, the concepts of “parenting” and “family” are mere legal constructs. They didn’t exist until some government made them happen. Foolishness, but loaded with poison. Because in the end, these activists want actions that make all children wards of the state.

Through this analysis, it becomes apparent that the claim that parents should have child-rearing rights – rather than simply being permitted to perform parental duties and to make certain decisions on a child’s behalf in accordance with the child’s rights – is inconsistent with principles deeply embedded in our law and morality.[14]

Rather than bringing “your” children home, you must fight for the right to raise them. And even then, you may only do for them what the government permits.

I propose further that the law confer on parents simply a child-rearing privilege, limited in its scope to actions and decisions not inconsistent with the child’s temporal interests. Such a privilege, coupled with a broader set of children’s rights, is sufficient to satisfy parents’ legitimate interests in child-rearing.[15]

The parents are permitted to only do those things that the social workers pre-approve, that satisfy THEIR versions of “the child’s temporal interests.” A power to grant, or deny, what may be done for the child makes the government a child’s true parent, even its owner. In one sweep of the hand, these advocates would set aside an entire culture of parenting and families. This sort of change is called “revolution.”

Break the family and you break society

In place of a culture that honors families, that respects the parent / child relationship, these child advocates propose some undefined, untried system of child rights. There is no consideration of side-effects. Any, or all, of these problems can arise:

  • If we can’t raise our offspring to perpetuate ourselves, and our values, why have children at all? We’d only be the state’s day care workers.
  • Why should a child respect its parents once the child discovers that he or she can lever social workers to get its own way? The child could even shop around, seeking different “parents” who are more interesting or pliable.
  • Once the government has discouraged parenting in this new world, what will it do with the children it “owns?” Build giant orphanages? Force children upon unwilling couples?

In the 1920s, Soviet Russia had an experiment much like this. In line with socialist doctrine, they did what they could to abolish families and marriage.[16] There was “free love,” and the government was going to raise the children. What did they get?[17]

  • Vast numbers of single mothers as men flitted from woman to woman, abandoning each wife in turn. Note that the government promise to raise children wasn’t fulfilled.
  • An alarming drop in actual birthrate.

The Soviet government quickly rolled things back, as best they could.

If you do research, the child rights being pushed by Bartholet are only rewarmed socialism.

First example: Bartholet claims this child right:

… the right to exposure to alternative views and experiences essential for children to grow up to exercise meaningful choices about their own future views, religion, lifestyles, and work.[18]

This has been a socialist stump speech for years:

Today, the main backwards role the family plays is the oppression of children, who are subjected to a tyranny of the parents and denied the basic rights which should belong to every human, most importantly the right of free development of the personality.[19]

Second example: Dwyer says that your newborn isn’t YOURS to raise:

Through this analysis, it becomes apparent that the claim that parents should have child-rearing rights – rather than simply being permitted to perform parental duties and to make certain decisions on a child’s behalf in accordance with the child’s rights – is inconsistent with principles deeply embedded in our law and morality.[20]

This concept was promoted by the Soviet Marxist leaders a century ago. They said that YOUR offspring actually belong to EVERYBODY. You have no personal right to them, and no personal responsibility towards them.

The woman who takes up the struggle for the liberation of the working class must learn to understand that there is no more room for the old proprietary attitude which says: “These are my children, I owe them all my maternal solicitude and affection; those are your children, they are no concern of mine and I don’t care if they go hungry and cold – I have no time for other children.” The worker-mother must learn not to differentiate between yours and mine; she must remember that there are only our children, the children of Russia’s communist workers.[21]

The intentional family-destroying effects of socialism is further illustrated in my articles on patriarchy[22] and socialist goals for the family.[23] This only shows how much socialism has permeated university thought and research.

How to respond

Bartholet, Dwyer, and the rest of their friends say that they want to help children. Don’t believe them. Rather than trying to fix problems, they’re devising schemes to overthrow our culture, laws, and Constitution.[24] Now that we see them for the revolutionaries that they are, what do we do?

First, understand that their criticisms of schooling and parent rights are not honest or sincere. They’re merely levers to achieve their longer goals of abolishing the parenting and the family concept.

Second, remember to support those groups that help you keep your parenting rights. This sounds strange to ask you to spend time and money to keep what you already have. However, if all that the American public ever hears is “change, change, change” from the other guys, after a while they’ll start getting support for their evil plans. Support those who defend you.

One such group to support is the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). They’re so effective that Bartholet figuratively shakes a defiant fist in their direction. She quotes Milton Gaither (a fellow traveler, and participant in the Harvard conference) as saying:

[T]he clear nation-wide legislative trend in recent years is that bills aiming to increase homeschooling regulations almost always die in committee due to massive outcry from homeschoolers, responding to HSLDA alerts, and bills aiming to decrease homeschooling regulations are often successful, sometimes because of vocal advocacy by homeschoolers and sometimes because of behind-the-scenes lobbying by HDSLA and its allies.[25]

If HSLDA is feared by them, then it be doing a good job. Even if you’re not homeschooling, get connected with them. Remember, the opponents of homeschools already have private schools in their sights (see above).

Third, believe, and continue to hold, that it is mainstream American culture to let your worldview guide your children’s education.

Bartholet may hate that religion often plays a major part in the decision to homeschool, but religion, too is a matter of democracy. That American families may make their own decisions on matters of worship, rather than accepting the official state religion, is deeply consonant with “democratic values.” Intellectuals, judges, and professors seem to think citing how other countries, especially European ones, operate constitutes a robust riposte, a.k.a., a sick burn. But Americans have always done things differently from Europeans owing to our more expansive, more demos-driven notions of individualism and liberty. Religious democracy interlocks with religious liberty to form the very origins of the United States of America. In other words, our “democratic values” differ from Europe’s. Look it up: That’s kind of the whole point of America.[26]

Remember that “we the people” grant government authority, and not the other way around. It’s claimed that Benjamin Franklin said we have “a republic, if you can keep it.” We must be busy at that, ensuring that we preserve both the republic and the rights we have, including the right to guide our children’s education.


  1. Child Advocacy Program, Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform – June 18-19, 2020, Harvard University,

  2. Bufkin, Ellie, Harvard to Host Event Aimed at Criminalizing Homeschooling, Townhall, April 22, 2020,

  3. Bartholet, Elizabeth, Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection, Arizona Law Review, Volume 62, Issue 1 [2020],

  4. Bartholet, Elizabeth, Homeschooling, page 78.

  5. Eden, Max, Harvard vs. the Family, City Journal, April 24, 2020,

  6. Sikkink, David, The Social Realities of Homeschooling, Institute for Family Studies, May 7, 2020,

  7. Bartholet, Elizabeth, Homeschooling, page 3.

  8. Bartholet, Elizabeth, Homeschooling, page 3.

  9. Bartholet, Elizabeth, Homeschooling, page 78.

  10. The Supreme Court’s Parental Rights Doctrine, Parental Rights,

    The left column has several legal quotes, accessed by clicking on the line of “dot” links. The Yoder quote is merely one of these quotes.

  11. Bartholet, Elizabeth, Homeschooling, page 6.

  12. Dwyer, James, A Constitutional Birthright: The State, Parentage, and the Rights of Newborn Persons, UCLA Law Review, page 762, 56 UCLA LAW REVIEW 755 (2009),

  13. Prominent Law Prof: ‘State Should Take Over the Legal Parental Role of Children’, Truth and Action,

    Alas! The original quote was in an interview on the CRTV network, but any transcription isn’t found on the internet. In some cases, the internet is NOT forever.

  14. Dwyer, James, Parents’ Religion and Children’s Welfare: Debunking the Doctrine of Parents’ Rights, page 1373, William & Mary Law School Scholarship Repository, Faculty Publications, January 1994,

  15. Dwyer, James, Parents’ Religion, page 1374.

  16. Kollontai, Alexandra, Communism and the Family, published in The Worker, 1920, collected in Selected Writings of Alexandra Kollontai, Allison & Busby, 1977, found at

  17. Svab, Petr, The Failed Soviet Experiment With ‘Free Love’,

  18. Bartholet, Elizabeth, Homeschooling, page 6.

  19. Meghany, The communist abolition of the family, Destroy Capitalism Now!, March 26, 2017,

  20. Dwyer, James, Parents’ Religion, page 1373.

  21. Kollontai, Alexandra, Communism and the Family.

  22. Perry, Oliver, Patriarchy, gender roles and Marxism: An educational campaign to destroy the family, Fix This Culture blog, May 22, 2019,

  23. Perry, Oliver, With Socialism you no longer have a family, Fix This Culture blog, June 15, 2019,

  24. Bartholet, Elizabeth, Homeschooling, starting at page 57 with IV: The Way Forward.

  25. Bartholet, Elizabeth, Homeschooling, page 43.

  26. Smith, Kyle, The Attack on Homeschoolers Is an Attack on American Ideals, National Review, April 23, 2020,