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As you are probably well aware, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, almost everything was closed down. Not least among the closures were virtually all schools. But while the students were not able to physically go to their classrooms at the school building, most schools still continued to operate – just in a different format. Most school systems were able to switch over to online study so the kids could study from home.
This, of course, created a new dynamic for instruction. While the regular school teachers were able, in most cases, to continue providing a certain level of instruction, parents became an integral part of the process. Instead of the teachers, the parents became the primary influencers and motivators for their kid’s schooling.
Enter Harvard law professor, Ellizabeth Bartholet. She is the faculty director of the university’s Child Advocacy Program. When she realized that parents, rather than public school teachers, were becoming the primary influencers of the kids regarding their schooling, she became alarmed because of her fear that homeschooled children would not be able to effectively contribute to a democratic society, and that they were at a higher risk of abuse. So, she put out the following statement:
The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18? I think that’s dangerous. I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.
What? Is she serious?
Sadly, she was deadly serious. But she was wrong on so many levels. First, when school is in session, the teachers in the schools are no less powerful than parents as they control the students under their care. Additionally, the public school teachers also exercise authoritarian control in their classroom setting. All that has happened is that the “authoritarian control” has shifted from one person to another.
But in considering this matter, the most important issue is something altogether different. Bartholet’s concern is based on a totally non-biblical worldview perspective. Her naturalistic presuppositions, and predispositions, incline her to promote intellectual totalitarianism. It seems that she thinks parents are either too ignorant or too religious to be able to influence their children properly.
On a purely practical level, it can be confidently stated that Bartholet’s views go against the results of decades of scholarly research on the subject of homeschooling. The overall body of research shows very positive academic, civic, and social outcomes for homeschooled students.
But on a deeper level, the beliefs themselves that Bartholet is espousing are nothing more than the expression of a huge religious bias. Naturalistic beliefs promote a collectivist point of view, where the collective holds priority over the individual. Thus, in her mind, it is important for the children to be “socialized” according to the naturalistic views that are most prominent in the public school curriculum, without interference from parents who might disagree with certain things that are being taught.
Biblical Theism, the worldview foundation that American society was originally founded upon, promotes the idea that the individual has priority over the collective. It is one that favors liberty over totalitarianism.
The Harvard professor is simply wrong! Beyond that, her beliefs are dangerous for all people who believe in liberty and freedom of conscience. She might do well herself to sit under the tutelage of some of these homeschooling parents.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.
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