Update: The Anti-Education Choice Agenda is Alive and Well
I figure we are all a little COVID-19’d out right now, so I thought I’d take a minute and remind you that while the world debates the best way to manage pandemics (by the way… have you checked out Sweden?), the pre-COVID agendas are still alive and well—and the attempts to limit our liberties and choices are still very much rolling forward.
Check this out and tell me if it doesn’t give you the creeps:
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. The focus will be 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. Experts will lead conversations about the available empirical evidence, the current regulatory environment, proposals for legal reform, and strategies for effecting such reform.
This is the overview of a summit scheduled for the coming months and “Sponsored by the Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program, in cooperation with the Academy on Violence and Abuse, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, the Institute for Human Services, the New York Foundling, the William & Mary Bill of Rights Institute, and the Zero Abuse Project.”
The summit is called the “Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform” and will be held at the Harvard Law School and is, of course, by invitation only. I contacted them and requested an invitation, saying I run a think tank and work on education policy—no word back yet.
Of course, I’m not holding out high hopes that I’ll be invited. When I looked through the list of attendees, I found only anti-homeschool and anti-education choice individuals and organizations.
I’m going to save you some homework by pasting information found in this article detailing the beliefs and views of some of the confirmed speakers:
Dr. Rachel Coleman, founder of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education and co-founder of Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. She is expected to reiterate her organization’s views that homeschooling must be more firmly regulated by the government. Proposed regulations include a call for annual evaluation of every homeschooled student.
Samantha Field, author of “Meet HSLDA, The Most Powerful Religious-Right Lobby You’ve Never Heard Of.” The article starts by declaring, “The Home School Legal Defense Association has fomented a culture of suspicion and wild conspiracy theories that may put children in danger.”
Carmen Longoria-Green, litigation counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Green’s 2015 Note for the Georgetown Law Review describes the current homeschool environment as “massively deregulated” and suggests that states should set up a process where homeschooled students could petition a judge to force their parents to send them to public school. (Educational Empowerment: A Child’s Right to Attend Public School, 103 Geo. L.J. 1089) Such a process is necessary, she told the Washington Post, because “It’s unreasonable to expect children to be their own advocates … You need a forum where an outside person looks at the situation and says, ‘Is this person meeting educational outcomes?’ ”
Dr. Chelsea McCracken, who asserted in 2018 that “Research on homeschooled students’ academic performance has been hampered by the lack of data collected on homeschooled students in most states.”
Dr. Barbara Knox, who worked at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine as the head of the hospital’s Child Protection Program until 2019, when she voluntarily resigned while under investigation for alleged unprofessional acts including intimidation of her colleagues. She currently works with the Alaska Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Services, “a department charged with making medical determinations about whether a child has been abused or not.” Dr. Knox is a leader in the field of pediatric child abuse medicine, a specialty that the Parental Rights Foundation contends can lead to doctors seeing child abuse “lurking behind every injury.”
James Dwyer, a law professor at the College of William and Mary. He is the professor famous for claiming that “The reason parent-child relationships exist is because the State confers legal parenthood …”. In his 1994 law review article “Parents’ Religion and Children’s Welfare: Debunking the Doctrine of Parents’ Rights” (82 Calif. L. Rev. 1371), Dwyer argued 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.”
Professor Robert Reich, whose views on homeschooling can be best summed up by the title of his 2015 editorial in the New York Times: “More Oversight is Needed.”
To say that homeschool and education choice are going to have any type of fair representation would be fool-hearted. This summit essentially amounts to a group of like-minded individuals pretending to be scientific while actually just confirming their own biases.
It would be easy to dismiss it with an eye roll—except that it’s summits like these that will later be cited when states or the federal government decide to tackle what they will call the “homeschool problem” in six months when tens and hundreds of thousands of “quarantine” homeschool families become “because we love it” homeschool families.
The government doesn’t like to give up power and control once they have it, and I suspect that this summit is just one of the first in what will become a refocusing on limiting the rights of parents to make education choices for their children once the COVID-19 dust settles. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.
So what can we do?
For starters, I would encourage everyone to not get so caught up in the headlines and the media frenzy of current events that they forget that lawmakers and lobbyists are still busy advocating their pet projects and liberty-limiting agendas. A large portion of my time is spent in defending against bad public policy, and there are people like me, and organizations like Libertas Institute, in every state. You can find a right-of-center think tank in your state here.
There are ways in every state and community to get involved and spend your time and talents in defending the rights of people to live, educate, worship, and prosper in the ways that they see fit. It is often only through public outcry that events like the The Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform get brought to the attention of those outside the private invite list.
So look around you today at what is happening within your own community or town. If you see the rights of others being limited or placed in danger, speak up! Be the one person on the city Facebook page who defends the small business owner trying to keep from going under, or the eccentric unschool mom whose kids play outside without shoes for most of the day instead of sitting in front of a screen and “doing school.”
I believe that the right of mothers and fathers to decide what is best for their families should be protected and defended at all costs, and I know that a lot of Tuttle Twins readers feel the same—even if they don’t choose to homeschool for one reason or another.
We don’t have to agree with the choices others make in order to see the value in protecting the rights of people to make the choices they do.
One of the reasons I love John Taylor Gatto, and chose to write a book based on his work, is because he recognized how important choice was. He knew that children needed choice in order to actually learn and grow into the people they were created to become. He knew that in order for children to have those important choices, parents had to have the right to choose what education would best suit their individual children.
If we don’t have choice we cannot be free.
I don’t know if this summit is still set to go forward in light of world events, but if you or someone you know would be interested in presenting a balance to the anti-education choice slant of the current attendees, I’d encourage you to also request an invite. 😉