GAZETTE: Your article says that homeschooling in its current unregulated form represents a danger to both children and society. What evidence do you have to support that?
BARTHOLET: One is the danger of child maltreatment, and we have evidence that there is a strong connection between homeschooling and maltreatment, which I describe in my article. Other dangers are that children are simply not learning basic academic skills or learning about the most basic democratic values of our society or getting the kind of exposure to alternative views that enables them to exercise meaningful choice about their future lives. Many homeschooling parents are extreme ideologues, committed to raising their children within their belief systems isolated from any societal influence. Some believe that black people are inferior to white people and others that women should be subject to men and not educated for careers but instead raised to serve their fathers first and then their husbands. The danger is both to these children and to society. The children may not have the chance to choose for themselves whether to exit these ideological communities; society may not have the chance to teach them values important to the larger community, such as tolerance of other people’s views and values.
GAZETTE: Given the current circumstances, with schools canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, many parents are homeschooling their kids. Does this massive shift to homeschooling pose any risks for children?
“The homeschooling lobby may be even more powerful than the gun lobby today, because at least with the gun lobby we see a lot of pushback. When it comes to homeschooling, the victims are all children so it’s harder to mount a political movement.”