Harvard Law School cancels anti-homeschooling summit

I previously wrote about Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet’s attack on homeschooling, which was filled with assumptions and mischaracterizations of parents who teach their children at home. And given the current COVID-19 crisis and the tens of millions of Americans who are using some type of home learning, the timing of the article in Harvard Magazine was also particularly terrible.

But it wasn’t just the article that was unsettling. There were plans to host an invite-only summit in June at Harvard Law School, focused on anti-homeschooling sentiments, whose co-organizer and one of its featured speakers included none other than Elizabeth Bartholet. These plans have reportedly been postponed until June 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Summit participants were also reportedly emailed directly about the change of plans.

Similar to the claims Bartholet makes in her article, the summit was slated to focus on “problems of educational deprivation and child maltreatment that too often occur under the guise of homeschooling, in a legal environment of minimal or no oversight.”

Senior Counsel Mike Donnelly with the Home School Legal Defense Foundation shared that “Bartholet’s closed conference, apparently now canceled, was aimed at discovering strategies to infringe on the freedoms of homeschooling families and only invited participants who agreed with their narrow and unsupported views about the homeschooling community.” And, Donnelly continues, illustrated the “elitist mentality that parents can’t be trusted to raise democratic citizens.”

The backlash from Bartholet’s article has been huge, given her flawed and unbalanced argument against homeschooling. The closed-to-the-public academic conference may be postponed for now, but it should put homeschooling parents and other education advocates on alert for future messaging that includes the statist idea that government knows best.