Harvard Magazine is rightly under fire for publishing a ridiculously unfounded and definitely unconstitutional argument against home schooling, amid the coronavirus pandemic. While many parents in America have for decades chosen home schooling as a valid school choice option, the public school closures have required 100 percent of parents to home school at least temporarily.
The liberal elite are panicking that parents might actually see the benefits of home school and continue to choose it, even after public schools can reopen. Harvard's woke hit piece has the audacity to argue that home schooling should be "presumptively banned" for no other reason than that Harvard law professors don't particularly like it or bizarrely claim that "The reason parent-child relationships exist is because the State confers legal parenthood." That's not how freedom or parental rights work in this country.
Parental rights, including school choice options, are part of our fundamental, pre-political rights endowed by God our Creator (as recognized in the Declaration of Independence) that our Constitution mandates American government must preserve and protect. "Conferring parenthood" is not a power of government, and the state cannot decide for you or your family decisions that our Constitution recognizes are within parental rights, including education. Rather than being presumptively banned, home schooling is presumptively constitutional. The law recognizes the inherent right of parents for decision-making in their children's best interests, health, safety, and welfare. We presume that parents are fit; we don't presume to foreclose options because Harvard turns its nose up.
From a constitutional perspective, the liberal elites know that they can't actually presumptively ban home schoolers, so they have been publishing pieces for years trying to scare parents out of choosing a completely valid option. Now that the curtain is drawn back and parents have had to at least try home schooling for a few months (if not longer), the progressive camp is now trying to inflame the issue to regain control over your children for no other reason than the lie that "we know better." Sorry government, you are not the parent.
But we've heard this tired rhetoric before and arguments by the academic and government elite who believe they can determine for you what's best for your own children. Liberal elites are actively suggesting, "We have to break through our private idea that kids belong to their parents, or that kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities." This is unconscionable, wholly unconstitutional, and diametrically opposed to parental rights. The danger of the Harvard piece is that it suggests to parents that they should question their own capabilities when educating their children and be worried about socialization and contributions to our society.
A book could be written on how many things are wrong with that philosophically. Do we really want Harvard or the government to determine what defines "meaningful contribution" to society? Sounds a lot like communist China. But even the empirical data show that home schooling is actually beneficial for children. Business Insider's 2018 piece titled "Homeschooling could be the smartest way to teach kids in the 21st century—here are 5 reasons why" discusses that children who are home schooled "have the same access to online learning, friendships, and extracurricular activities as the typical public school student—but without many of the drawbacks, like standardized lesson plans and bullying."
The evidence for success of home schooling is insurmountable. Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a nonprofit whose core mission is to provide resources and defend the fundamental right of parents to choose home schooling, and their data shows home schooling is thriving across America, with an estimated 2 million home schooled students pre-pandemic.
The many, many individual stories of home school successes are also a huge pushback to the elitist's fabrications. But the secret is that how an individual defines "success" isn't actually up to the government or the elites. It is rooted firmly in the purpose of family and society as God ordained them: to find our individual calling and pursue it. Not every home school family by far is conservative or faith-based, but definitely public schools are not. The freedom and ability for parents to raise children in a faith-based environment without government interference will not be tolerated by the progressive elites.
Harvard Magazine not-so-subtly acknowledges this targeting of faith-based home schoolers in their cover photo, using "BIBLE" as one of the subject matters taught in the home (portrayed as a jail to the home schooled student). Notice the inference here. Liberalism can tolerate any other religion except for Christianity. "Religion" at-large is not the foundation of their feared home school setting, only the Christian biblically-based environment. The liberal elites out themselves as not really against home schooling itself, but specifically against conservative Christians.
This is all about control. Harvard Magazine quoted Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, "The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18?" she asks. "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."
Great, she just articulated why government should stay out of parental rights, not why government should be given authoritarian control over our children! We have to understand that parental rights are fundamentally about the ability and responsibility of parents to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of their own children, including school choice options. Parents are the presumptive authority for children. The family unit is designed that way. What's dangerous is the argument that government would ever require parents to cede their responsibility for their own children to government and liberal elitism's control.
Think about it. Instead of a child being raised in a "woke" classroom that promotes liberal ideas, philosophies, values, and morals, parents (through home schooling) have the opportunity instead to raise their children with conservative and Christian ideas, philosophies, values, and morals. Liberals are terrified one of these children might very well grow up to become a constitutional law attorney, work for a President, and push back against the liberal fake narrative—like me.
I was home schooled Kindergarten through high school graduation, and my experience as a home schooled student provided a secure foundation in the family unit, my faith, and the ability to think for myself instead of parrot the liberal elite's talking points. As a home school graduate who never darkened the doors of a public school, I was a debate champion, have degrees in journalism and law, clerked for judges, and have experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney, professor, book author, journalist, national television contributor, and work now as the senior legal adviser to President Trump's re-election campaign and one of his private counsel, in addition to being a Fellow at the Falkirk Center for Faith & Liberty. And I'm 35.
Even by their own metric, I am a "success" for the liberals elites, but they wouldn't point to someone like me because I'm not working for their cause. They fear home school graduates like me. For the very same reason conservative women are not championed in mainstream media or on the covers of magazines as stellar examples, home school students are likewise not recognized as successes by the liberal elites simply because we are not falling in line with their agenda. And they are terrified of us and our success.
I am grateful for my home schooling experience and having parents who chose to give me an advantage of education without all of the drawbacks and indoctrination of government run public school liberalism. Whether a home school student becomes an attorney or a doctor or a stay-at-home mom home schooling the next generation, all of us are successes. I'm not here to say that every parent should or must home school, but the point is that whether or not you as a parent choose home schooling, it is your choice. It's a valid and very worthy choice to consider—and that's precisely what Harvard Magazine is afraid of.
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Jenna Ellis is a constitutional law attorney, the senior legal adviser to the Trump 2020 Campaign, and fellow at Falkirk Center at Liberty University. She is an attorney to President Trump and the author of "The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution."
This column first appeared at FalkirkCenter.com.