An Assault on Homeschooling Is an Assault on Pluralism and Religious Freedom

Illustrated by a drawing of a child in a prison-like house made of books labeled “reading,” “writing,” “arithmatic” (the misspelling was later corrected), and “Bible,” a recent article in Harvard Magazine calls attention to the dangerous threat supposedly posed by homeschooling. The article, drawing upon arguments set forth by the Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet in a legal journal, notes as particularly troubling that most of these parents are “driven by conservative Christian beliefs.” Fred Bauer dissects Bartholet’s position, which is based in part on the importance of diversity and pluralism:

[According to Bartholet], children have an affirmative right to a quality education that reinforces certain “democratic” values. She argues that homeschooling usually does not afford such an education, so it should be presumptively banned. . . . While the major thrust of Bartholet’s article targets homeschooling, she also calls for more regulation of private education. At the end of this article, Bartholet writes of the effort to “impose some control” on private religious schools, such as yeshivas in New York.

[Bartholet’s] approach is in real tension with the project of living in a pluralistic society. . . . The United States is a diverse place. Its public schools can incorporate a vast array of individuals and cultures, but its proliferation of educational models (public, private, and home schools) also gives testament to the range of American life. This wide variety of institutions speaks to the range of possible approaches to education within this country—from Amish schoolhouses to Catholic schools to Orthodox yeshivas to Muslim homeschoolers.

Moreover, [Bartholet] writes about the importance of exposing students to a variety of views but fails to address the way mandatory public schooling could itself close off some views. A secular child raised by secular parents who then goes to a secular public school might not be that exposed to religious viewpoints. Should he be sent to a monastery for a few months each year in order to understand fully a worldview based on obedience to religious authority?

While Bartholet might lament those parents who “want to ensure that their children adopt their own particular religious and social views,” one of the central elements of parenting is raising children within a certain set of traditions. Moreover, any form of parenting will end up imparting some set of values and views. . . . Environmentally conscious parents might want their children to recycle in adulthood; many religious parents hope that their children will carry on that religious tradition to the next generation. Children might, of course, reject those values, and part of parenthood is also accepting the choices of children as well as nurturing in them the ability to make well-informed choices. Nevertheless, that instruction in concrete traditions plays a central role in childrearing.

Read more at National Review

More about: American society, Education, Freedom of Religion

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University