83981 (Author at Cato Institute) https://www.cato.org/ en Kerry McDonald participates in the webinar, “The Collectivist War On Homeschooling, Postmoderns, Hobbes,” on the Liberty Conspiracy podcast https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-participates-webinar-collectivist-war-homeschooling Wed, 01 Jul 2020 10:17:43 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-participates-webinar-collectivist-war-homeschooling 5 Things I Learned Debating the Harvard Prof Who Called for a “Presumptive Ban” on Homeschooling https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/5-things-i-learned-debating-harvard-prof-who-called-presumptive-ban Kerry McDonald <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>On Monday, I&nbsp;debated the Harvard professor who&nbsp;<a href="https://arizonalawreview.org/homeschooling-parent-rights-absolutism-vs-child-rights-to-education-protection/" target="_blank">proposes</a>&nbsp;a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling. Thousands of viewers tuned in to watch the live, online discussion hosted by the Cato Institute. With 1,000 submitted audience questions, the 90‐​minute webinar only scratched the surface of the issue about who is presumed to know what is best for children: parents or the state.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cato.org/events/homeschooling-protecting-freedom-protecting-children" target="_blank">Here is the replay link</a>&nbsp;in case you missed it.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Last week, I&nbsp;<a href="https://fee.org/articles/my-upcoming-debate-with-the-harvard-professor-who-wants-a-presumptive-ban-on-homeschooling/" target="_blank">outlined</a>&nbsp;much of my argument against Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet that I&nbsp;incorporated into our debate, but here are five takeaways from Monday’s discussion:</p> <p><strong>1. There Are People Who Believe the State Should Be Your Co‐​Parent</strong></p> <p>While this event was framed as a&nbsp;discussion about homeschooling, including whether and how to regulate the practice, it is clear that homeschooling is just a&nbsp;strawman. The real issue focuses on the role of government in people’s lives, and in particular in the lives of families and children. In her 80‐​page&nbsp;<em>Arizona Law Review</em>&nbsp;<a href="https://arizonalawreview.org/homeschooling-parent-rights-absolutism-vs-child-rights-to-education-protection/" target="_blank">article</a>&nbsp;that sparked this controversy, Professor Bartholet makes it clear that she is seeking a&nbsp;reinterpretation of the US Constitution, which she calls “outdated and inadequate,” to move from its existing focus on negative rights, or individuals being free from state intervention, to positive rights where the state takes a&nbsp;much more active role in citizens’ lives.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>The 90‐​minute webinar only scratched the surface of the issue about who is presumed to know what is best for children: parents or the state. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>During Monday’s discussion, Professor Bartholet explained that “some parents can’t be trusted to not abuse and neglect their children,” and that is why “kids are going to be way better off if both parent and state are involved.” She said her argument focuses on “the state having the right to assert the rights of the child to both education and protection.” Finally, Professor Bartholet said that it’s important to “have the state have some say in protecting children and in trying to raise them so that the children have a&nbsp;decent chance at a&nbsp;future and also are likely to participate in some positive, meaningful ways in the larger society.”</p> <p>It’s true that the state has a&nbsp;role in protecting children from harm, but does it really have a&nbsp;role in “trying to raise them”? And if the state does have a&nbsp;role in raising children to be competent adults, then the fact that two‐​thirds of US schoolchildren are not&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/30/us/reading-scores-national-exam.html" target="_blank">reading</a>&nbsp;proficiently, and more than three‐​quarters are not proficient in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/civics/results/achievement/" target="_blank">civics</a>, should cause us to be skeptical about the state’s ability to ensure competence.</p> <p>I made the point on Monday that we already have an established government system to protect children from abuse and neglect. The mission of Child Protective Services (CPS) is to investigate suspected child abuse and punish perpetrators. CPS is&nbsp;<a href="https://hechingerreport.org/when-schools-use-child-protective-services-as-a-weapon-against-parents/" target="_blank">plagued with problems</a>&nbsp;and must be dramatically reformed, but the key is to improve the current government system meant to protect children rather than singling out homeschoolers for additional regulation and government oversight. This is particularly true when there is no compelling evidence that homeschooling parents are more likely to abuse their children than non‐​homeschooling parents, and some<a href="https://www.nheri.org/child-abuse-of-public-school-private-school-and-homeschool-students-evidence-philosophy-and-reason/" target="_blank">research</a>&nbsp;to suggest that homeschooling parents are actually&nbsp;<em>less</em>&nbsp;likely to abuse their children.</p> <p>Additionally, and perhaps most disturbingly, this argument for more state involvement in the lives of homeschoolers ignores the fact that children are routinely&nbsp;<a href="https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/index.html?fbclid=IwAR3mxtqZGCpaE13t0KIn4EFv1YEoeP7LGK0dGGhDG8aQ_alNw6_9bCXvaes" target="_blank">abused</a>&nbsp;in government schools by government educators, as well as by school&nbsp;<a href="https://www.boston.com/news/national-news/2017/05/01/ap-uncovers-17000-reports-of-sexual-assaults-at-schools-across-us" target="_blank">peers</a>. If the government can’t even protect children enrolled in its own heavily regulated and surveilled schools, then how can it possibly argue for the right to regulate and monitor those families who opt out?</p> <p><strong>2. Random Home Visits Will Be a&nbsp;Weapon of the State</strong></p> <p>Of all the recommendations included in the Harvard professor’s proposed presumptive ban on homeschooling, the one that caused the most uproar among both homeschoolers and libertarians was the call for regular home visits of homeschooling families, with no evidence of wrongdoing.</p> <p>In my remarks during Monday’s debate, I&nbsp;included a&nbsp;quote from a&nbsp;Hispanic homeschooling mother in Connecticut who was particularly angry and concerned about imposing home visits on homeschooling families. (According to federal&nbsp;<a href="https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2017102" target="_blank">data</a>, Hispanics make up about one‐​quarter of the overall US homeschooling population, mirroring their representation in the general US K-12 school‐​age population.) She made the important point that minority families are&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/the-rise-of-homeschooling-among-black-families/385543/" target="_blank">increasingly</a>&nbsp;choosing homeschooling to escape discrimination and an inadequate academic environment in local schools. She also pointed out that, tragically, it is often minorities who are most seriously impacted by these seemingly well‐​meaning government regulations. Writing to me about Professor Bartholet’s recommendation, she said:</p> <p>“To state that they want to have surveillance into our homes by having government officials visit, and have parents show proof of their qualified experience to be a&nbsp;parent to their own child is yet another way for local and federal government to do what they have done to native Americans, blacks, the Japanese, Hispanics, etc in the past. Her proposal would once again interfere and hinder a&nbsp;certain population from progressing forward.”</p> <p>Anyone who cares about liberty and a&nbsp;restrained government should be deeply troubled by the idea of periodic home visits by government agents on law‐​abiding citizens.</p> <p><strong>3. Private Education Is in Danger</strong></p> <p>Despite the landmark 1925 US Supreme Court&nbsp;<a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/268/510" target="_blank">decision</a>&nbsp;that ruled it unconstitutional to ban private schools, there remains lingering&nbsp;<a href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/political-confessional-i-think-private-schools-should-be-banned/" target="_blank">support</a>&nbsp;for limiting or&nbsp;<a href="https://www.educationnext.org/ban-public-schools-best-defense-against-proposal-ban-private-schools/" target="_blank">abolishing private education</a>&nbsp;and forcing all children to attend government schools. Homeschooling is just one form of private education.</p> <p>In her law review article, Professor Bartholet recommends “private school reform,” suggesting that private schools may have similar issues to homeschooling but saying that this topic is “beyond the scope” of her article. Still, she concludes her article by stating that “to the degree public schools are seriously deficient, our society should work on improving them, rather than simply allowing some parents to escape.”</p> <p>The government should work to improve its own schools, where academic deficiencies and abuse are pervasive. But it should have no role in deciding whether or not parents are&nbsp;<em>allowed to escape</em>.</p> <p><strong>4. State Standardized Testing Begs the Question: Whose Standard?</strong></p> <p>Some advocates of homeschooling regulation suggest that requiring regular standardized testing of homeschoolers would be a&nbsp;reasonable compromise. In her law review article, Professor Bartholet recommends: “Testing of homeschoolers on a&nbsp;regular basis, at least annually, to assess educational progress, with tests selected and administered by public school authorities; permission to continue homeschooling conditioned on adequate performance, with low scores triggering an order to enroll in school.”</p> <p>During Monday’s debate, I&nbsp;asked the question: By whose standard are we judging homeschoolers’ academic performance? Is it by the standard of the government schools, where so many children are&nbsp;<a href="https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/04/23/8th-graders-scores-drop-in-history-geography.html" target="_blank">failing to meet</a>&nbsp;the very academic standards the government has created? I&nbsp;pointed out that many parents choose homeschooling because they disapprove of the standards set by government schools. For example, in recent years schools have pushed literacy expectations to younger and younger children, with&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/01/13/report-requiring-kindergartners-to-read-as-common-core-does-may-harm-some/" target="_blank">kindergarteners now being required to read</a>. If they fail to meet this arbitrary standard, many children are labeled with a&nbsp;reading deficiency when it could just be that they are not yet developmentally ready to read.</p> <p>Indeed, as&nbsp;<em>The New York Times</em>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/05/education/home-schooling-more-pupils-less-regulation.html" target="_blank">reported</a>&nbsp;in 2015: “Once mainly concentrated among religious families as well as parents who wanted to release their children from the strictures of traditional classrooms, home schooling is now attracting parents who want to escape the testing and curriculums that have come along with the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/30/education/common-core-standards-face-a-new-wave-of-opposition.html" target="_blank">Common Core</a>, new academic standards that have been adopted by more than 40 states.”</p> <p>A key benefit of homeschooling is avoiding standardization in learning and allowing for a&nbsp;much more individualized education. And it seems to be working. Most of the research on homeschooling families conducted over the past several decades, including a&nbsp;recent<a href="http://efinstitute.org/academic-achievement-of-home-schooled-students-literature-review/" target="_blank">literature review</a>&nbsp;by Dr. Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation, finds positive academic outcomes of homeschooling children.</p> <p><strong>5. Homeschoolers Will Win</strong></p> <p>There are very few movements today that bring together such a&nbsp;diverse group of people as homeschooling does. Families of all political persuasions, from all corners of the country, reflecting many different races, ethnicities, classes, cultures, values, and ideologies, and representing a&nbsp;multitude of different learning philosophies and approaches choose homeschooling for the educational freedom and flexibility it provides. Homeschoolers may not agree on much, but preserving the freedom to raise and educate their children as they choose is a&nbsp;unifying priority. In times of division, homeschoolers offer hope and optimism that liberty will prevail.</p> </div> Mon, 22 Jun 2020 09:26:44 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/5-things-i-learned-debating-harvard-prof-who-called-presumptive-ban Kerry McDonald discusses unschooling, homeschooling, and schooling alternatives on Praxis’ Self‐​Directed podcast https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-unschooling-homeschooling-schooling Fri, 19 Jun 2020 11:36:18 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-unschooling-homeschooling-schooling Homeschooling: Protecting Freedom, Protecting Children https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/homeschooling-protecting-freedom-protecting-children Elizabeth Bartholet, Kerry McDonald, Milton Gaither, Neal McCluskey <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Long before COVID-19 forced almost all children to receive education at home, homeschooling—a parental decision to educate their children at home—was growing. For advocates, its purpose and value is to open space for diversity, enabling families to provide education different from what any school offers. Critics fear that it isolates children from the myriad people and ideas in society and can enable child abuse to go unchecked. These positions have recently come into high‐​profile conflict and seem irreconcilable. Are they? Or do both sides have legitimate concerns that can be resolved through compromise? Join us for this timely discussion.</p> </div> Mon, 15 Jun 2020 16:48:10 -0400 Elizabeth Bartholet, Kerry McDonald, Milton Gaither, Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/homeschooling-protecting-freedom-protecting-children My Upcoming Debate with the Harvard Professor Who Wants a “Presumptive Ban” on Homeschooling https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/upcoming-debate-harvard-professor-who-wants-presumptive-ban-homeschooling Kerry McDonald <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>When I&nbsp;told my 13‐​year‐​old homeschooled daughter that I&nbsp;would be participating in an&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cato.org/events/homeschooling-protecting-freedom-protecting-children" target="_blank">upcoming debate</a>&nbsp;with the Harvard professor who recommends a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling, she asked incredulously, “Why would anyone want to prevent people from homeschooling?”</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>I told her that some people worry that children could be abused or neglected by parents who choose to homeschool, which is why in a&nbsp;recent&nbsp;<em>Arizona Law Review</em>&nbsp;<a href="https://arizonalawreview.org/homeschooling-parent-rights-absolutism-vs-child-rights-to-education-protection/" target="_blank">article</a>, Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet called for a “presumptive ban” on the practice, allowing the state to grant permission to homeschool only after parents first prove that they are worthy of the task and after they also agree to other state interventions, such as regular home visits by government “mandated reporters” of child abuse and ensuring that their children still take at least some classes at their local government school.</p> </div> , <div class="promo-block clearfix spacer--standout block--standout bg--standout block p-standard"> <h4 class="block__title heading">Related Event</h4> <div class="block--inner"> <h3 class="mb-md-4 heading"> <a href="https://www.cato.org/events/homeschooling-protecting-freedom-protecting-children">Homeschooling: Protecting Freedom, Protecting Children</a> </h3> <aside class="aside--large aside--right promo-block__image aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <a href="https://www.cato.org/events/homeschooling-protecting-freedom-protecting-children"><img width="444" height="519" alt="Close-up of Macbook keyboard with custom keys for science, art, and a giant red button marked homeschooling" class="lozad component-image" loading="lazy" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/promo_block_2x/public/2020-06/202006_homeschooling_laptop_vertical.jpg?itok=Jxx_MFSg 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/promo_block_2x/public/2020-06/202006_homeschooling_laptop_vertical.jpg?itok=Jxx_MFSg 1.5x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/promo_block/public/2020-06/202006_homeschooling_laptop_vertical.jpg?itok=oIlqL6rn 2x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/promo_block/public/2020-06/202006_homeschooling_laptop_vertical.jpg?itok=oIlqL6rn" typeof="Image" /></a> </aside> <p>Long before COVID-19 forced almost all children to receive education at home, homeschooling—a parental decision to educate their children at home—was growing. Advocates state that it opens space for diversity, enabling families to provide education different from what any school offers; critics fear that it isolates children from society and can enable child abuse to go unchecked. Are these position irreconcilable? Or do both sides have legitimate concerns that can be resolved through compromise? Join us for this timely discussion.</p> <div class="mt-md-4 mt-standard field field-name-field-call-to-action"> <span class="hs-cta-wrapper" id="hs-cta-wrapper-2df542ba-a6fc-4c76-90da-53ec23b58543"><span class="hs-cta-node hs-cta-2df542ba-a6fc-4c76-90da-53ec23b58543" id="hs-cta-2df542ba-a6fc-4c76-90da-53ec23b58543"><a href="https://cta-redirect.hubspot.com/cta/redirect/4957480/2df542ba-a6fc-4c76-90da-53ec23b58543" target="_blank"><img class="hs-cta-img" id="hs-cta-img-2df542ba-a6fc-4c76-90da-53ec23b58543" src="https://no-cache.hubspot.com/cta/default/4957480/2df542ba-a6fc-4c76-90da-53ec23b58543.png" alt="Join the Conversation"></a></span> hbspt.cta.load(4957480, '2df542ba-a6fc-4c76-90da-53ec23b58543', {}); </span> </div> </div> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>My daughter was baffled. I&nbsp;asked her what she thinks my response to the professor should be in the <a href="https://www.cato.org/events/homeschooling-protecting-freedom-protecting-children" target="_blank">upcoming discussion hosted by the Cato Institute on Monday, June 15th</a>, that will be livestreamed to the public. She said that many of the young people who attend the self‐​directed learning center for homeschoolers where my daughter and her siblings take classes chose homeschooling to escape abuse in their previous school. Many of them were bullied by peers or otherwise unhappy there, and homeschooling has been a&nbsp;positive game‐​changer for them. “Maybe the professor doesn’t really know homeschoolers,” my daughter said. “You should explain to her what it’s really like.”</p> <p>That is what I&nbsp;intend to do. My argument in favor of homeschooling and against “presumptive bans” and regulation hinges on three primary principles:</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p><strong>Principle 1: Today’s Homeschoolers Are Diverse, Engaged, and Competent</strong></p> <p>As my daughter suggested, opponents of homeschooling or those who believe in greater state authority over the practice may not really know a&nbsp;lot about today’s homeschoolers. Stereotypes of homeschoolers as isolated radicals were rarely true even a&nbsp;generation ago when homeschooling became legally recognized in all US states by the mid‐​1990s, and they are even less true now.</p> <p>Twenty‐​first‐​century homeschoolers are increasingly reflective of the overall US population, demographically, geographically, ideologically, and socioeconomically. They choose homeschooling for a&nbsp;wide variety of reasons, but a&nbsp;top motivator cited by homeschooling parents in the most recent US Department of Education&nbsp;<a href="https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2017102" target="_blank">data</a>&nbsp;on the topic is “concern about the environment of other schools, including safety, drugs, and negative peer pressure.” Only 16 percent of homeschooling parents in this nationally representative sample chose a “desire to provide religious instruction” as their top motivator. Much of the growth in homeschooling over the past decade has come from&nbsp;<a href="https://www.newsweek.com/why-urban-educated-parents-are-turning-diy-education-64349" target="_blank">urban, secular</a>&nbsp;families seeking a&nbsp;different, more custom‐​fit educational environment for their kids.</p> <p>Homeschoolers are diverse in many ways, from their reasons for homeschooling, to the educational philosophies they embrace, to the curriculum they use (<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Unschooled-Well-Educated-Children-Conventional-Classroom/dp/1641600632/" target="_blank">or don’t use</a>). Homeschooling is also becoming much more racially and ethnically diverse, with federal&nbsp;<a href="https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2017102" target="_blank">data</a>&nbsp;showing that one‐​quarter of the nearly two million US homeschoolers are Hispanic, which mirrors the population of Hispanic children in the overall US K-12 school‐​age population. Black homeschooling is also&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/the-rise-of-homeschooling-among-black-families/385543/" target="_blank">growing</a>, with many African American parents choosing this education option for their children to “protect them from institutional racism and stereotyping.”</p> <p>Additionally, recent&nbsp;<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0161956X.2019.1617582" target="_blank">research</a>&nbsp;by Daniel Hamlin at the University of Oklahoma finds that homeschoolers are highly engaged in their communities with frequent opportunities to build “cultural capital” through regular visits to libraries, museums, and participation in cultural events. Hamlin states: “Relative to public school students, homeschooled students are between two and three times more likely to visit an art gallery, museum, or historical site; visit a&nbsp;library; or attend an event sponsored by a&nbsp;community, religious, or ethnic group. Homeschooled students are also approximately 1.5 times more likely to visit a&nbsp;zoo, aquarium, or bookstore during the course of a&nbsp;month.”</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>At the heart of a&nbsp;free society is tolerating difference and accepting diversity—in lifestyles, in beliefs, in values, and in parenting and educational practices. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>As the COVID-19 pandemic led to massive school shutdowns this spring, over 50 million US schoolchildren found themselves learning at home. Whether because of ongoing virus fears and concerns about school reopenings with strict social distancing requirements, or because they found learning at home more rewarding than they expected, many parents are seriously considering opting out of conventional schooling—at least in the short‐​term. A&nbsp;new poll by&nbsp;<a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2020/05/26/coronavirus-schools-teachers-poll-ipsos-parents-fall-online/5254729002/" target="_blank">USA Today/​Ipsos</a>&nbsp;found that 60 percent of parents say they will likely choose at‐​home learning rather than sending their children to school in the fall even if they reopen.</p> <p>Some of these parents may be glad to know that a&nbsp;recent&nbsp;<a href="http://efinstitute.org/academic-achievement-of-home-schooled-students-literature-review/" target="_blank">literature review</a>&nbsp;on homeschooling conducted by Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation finds excellent academic outcomes for homeschooled students. She concludes that “the outcomes of those who homeschool, whether the result of homeschooling itself or other unobservable characteristics of families who homeschool such as greater parental involvement, shows positive academic outcomes for participants.”</p> <p>The wide variety of reasons for and approaches to homeschooling means that subjecting homeschooling families to the education and oversight requirements of government schools, or requiring homeschoolers to take regular classes at these schools, imposes conformity on a&nbsp;population of families that is deeply heterogeneous. It may seem neat and easy to mandate government schooling regulations and expectations on families who opt out of this method, but it limits individuality, experimentation, and divergence. We may not like how different families choose to live and learn, but that is no excuse to intolerantly impose our own preferences on them through government force.</p> <p><strong>Principle 2: Parents Know Better Than the State</strong></p> <p>My husband and I&nbsp;chose homeschooling right from the beginning of our childrearing days, recognizing that it would provide a&nbsp;more expansive, interest‐​driven, academically challenging educational environment for our four children than would be possible in a&nbsp;conventional school. Instead of going to the same building every day, with the same static handful of teachers and the same age‐​segregated group of peers doing the same curriculum, our children are immersed in the people, places, and things of our city and, with the exception of this pandemic, spend much of their time outside of our home interacting with friends and mentors in our community. We rejected schooling from the start, but as my daughter suggests, many families use homeschooling as an exit ramp from an unsatisfactory or abusive schooling experience.</p> <p>Peer abuse in the form of physical and emotional&nbsp;<a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2019/08/10/stop-bullying/1965145001/" target="_blank">bullying</a>&nbsp;is rampant in schools, and is one reason why some parents choose to withdraw their children from school for homeschooling. Data suggest that nearly half of children in grades four to 12 experience bullying at least once a&nbsp;month, and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.boston.com/news/national-news/2017/05/01/ap-uncovers-17000-reports-of-sexual-assaults-at-schools-across-us" target="_blank">peer sexual assaults</a>&nbsp;at school are alarmingly common. Depression and anxiety are&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/features/anxiety-depression-children.html" target="_blank">rising</a>&nbsp;among children and teens, and the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/youth-suicide-rate-rises-56-in-decade-cdc-says-11571284861" target="_blank">youth suicide rate</a>&nbsp;climbed 56 percent between 2007 and 2017. Researchers at Vanderbilt University&nbsp;<a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/141/6/e20172426" target="_blank">found</a>&nbsp;a&nbsp;strong seasonal relationship between youth suicide and school attendance, with suicidal acts and tendencies declining during the summer months and soaring at back‐​to‐​school time. This is an opposite pattern to adult suicide rates and tendencies, which peak in July and August.</p> <p>Opponents of homeschooling point to rare examples of abuse or neglect by parents who identify (or who the state identifies) as homeschoolers to argue for heightened homeschool regulation. Yet, government schools are heavily regulated and surveilled, and abuse still regularly occurs there, and not only in the form of bullying.</p> <p>Headlines&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/principal-teacher-charged-in-connection-with-alleged-abuse-of-special-needs-students-at-va-school/2019/12/16/2a9d5428-2037-11ea-bed5-880264cc91a9_story.html#:~:text=Principal%2C%20staffers%20charged%20in%20connection%20with%20alleged%20abuse%20of%20special,school&amp;text=The%20former%20principal%20of%20a,of%20his%20staff%2C%20police%20said." target="_blank">abound</a>&nbsp;of educators abusing children on school premises, and a&nbsp;2004 US Department of Education&nbsp;<a href="https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/index.html?fbclid=IwAR3mxtqZGCpaE13t0KIn4EFv1YEoeP7LGK0dGGhDG8aQ_alNw6_9bCXvaes" target="_blank">study</a>&nbsp;found that one in 10 children who attend a&nbsp;government school will be sexually abused by a&nbsp;government school employee by the time the child graduates from high school. Child abuse tragically happens in all types of settings, but some&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nheri.org/child-abuse-of-public-school-private-school-and-homeschool-students-evidence-philosophy-and-reason/" target="_blank">research</a>&nbsp;suggests that homeschooled children are&nbsp;<em>less</em>&nbsp;likely to be abused than their schooled peers. This shouldn’t be surprising, as homeschooling parents are often choosing homeschooling, while making significant personal sacrifices, to ensure their child’s safety and well‐​being.</p> <p>Child abuse is horrific and anyone convicted of this crime should be severely punished, but it is absurd to suggest that homeschooling parents need to be frequently monitored and evaluated by government officials who struggle to keep children safe within their own government institutions. Clean up your own house before telling others how to clean theirs.</p> <p>Parents are not perfect and they do commit crimes, sometimes against their own children, just as educators sometimes commit crimes against the children in their schools. But if we are to grant power to families or to the state to protect children, we should side with families who have shown for millennia, well before governments were instituted, that they are capable of raising and educating their own children.</p> <p><strong>Principle 3: In America, We Have a&nbsp;Presumption of Innocence</strong></p> <p>Perhaps the most sinister aspect of proposals to presumptively ban or heavily regulate homeschoolers is the deep suspicion it betrays toward a&nbsp;group that chooses to live and learn differently. The suggestion is that because some tiny fraction of homeschooling parents could commit a&nbsp;crime against children then all homeschooling parents should be subject to increased scrutiny and surveillance. This says that homeschoolers should be presumed to be guilty until proven innocent, with frequent monitoring to ensure no wrongdoing.</p> <p>We rightfully condemn&nbsp;<a href="https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/05/11/running-while-black-ahmaud-arbery" target="_blank">racial profiling</a>&nbsp;and other attempts to single out an entire group for increased suspicion out of concerns about the actions of a&nbsp;few. We should criticize efforts to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/05/15/722158148/american-muslims-in-public-life-say-they-face-outsized-scrutiny" target="_blank">monitor and control</a>&nbsp;the beliefs and behaviors of people who live differently, valuing the pluralism of American culture. We must recognize the cost of trading individual liberty for some alleged security. It is a&nbsp;dangerous exchange.</p> <p>If a&nbsp;parent, educator, or any person is suspected of abusing a&nbsp;child, then that individual should be arrested, charged, and tried. But to single out an entire group for pre‐​crime surveillance with no evidence of lawbreaking is wrong. Critics might argue that if homeschoolers have nothing to hide, they shouldn’t mind more state intrusion if it could protect children.</p> <p>By this same logic, we should allow periodic police inspections of our homes to protect our neighborhoods and make sure none of us are thieves. If we have nothing to hide, we should allow the government to routinely read our emails and listen to our phone calls. We should be okay with&nbsp;<a href="https://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police/president-trump-stop-and-frisk-both-unconstitutional-and" target="_blank">stop‐​and‐​frisk</a>. In a&nbsp;free society, we should not be okay with these violations of privacy that expand state power and make us&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/07/18/too-much-surveillance-makes-us-less-free-it-also-makes-us-less-safe/" target="_blank">less free and less safe</a>.</p> <p>The central question is what kind of society do we wish to live in? Do we want entire groups subject to special scrutiny and suspicion just because they are different? Do we want to accept a&nbsp;legal regime of guilty until proven innocent? Do we want government to serve families, or families to serve government? At the heart of a&nbsp;free society is tolerating difference and accepting diversity—in lifestyles, in beliefs, in values, and in parenting and educational practices.</p> <p>Government schools have a&nbsp;lot to focus on, including reducing&nbsp;<a href="https://www.boston.com/news/national-news/2017/05/01/ap-uncovers-17000-reports-of-sexual-assaults-at-schools-across-us" target="_blank">abuse in schools</a>, raising&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/30/us/reading-scores-national-exam.html" target="_blank">reading scores</a>, and getting more than&nbsp;<a href="https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/04/23/8th-graders-scores-drop-in-history-geography.html" target="_blank">15 percent</a>&nbsp;of students to be proficient in US history. Child advocates, educators, and policy makers should help these schoolchildren by making government schooling safer and more effective, while leaving homeschooling families alone.</p> </div> Wed, 10 Jun 2020 09:17:56 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/upcoming-debate-harvard-professor-who-wants-presumptive-ban-homeschooling Kerry McDonald discusses Harvard’s Elizabeth Bartholet’s attack on homeschooling on Fox News Digital https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-harvards-elizabeth-bartholets-attack Thu, 28 May 2020 12:01:25 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-harvards-elizabeth-bartholets-attack Kerry McDonald discusses the attacks on homeschooling on Freedom Media Network https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-attacks-homeschooling-freedom-media-network Tue, 26 May 2020 11:21:33 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-attacks-homeschooling-freedom-media-network The CDC’s Guidelines for Back‐​to‐​School Under COVID Sound Traumatizing https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/cdcs-guidelines-back-school-under-covid-sound-traumatizing Kerry McDonald <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>When schools reopen in the US amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they will be even more restrictive than they already were. Schools have long controlled students’ movements and imposed constraints on where they can go, when, and with whom. With virus concerns, those controls will increase in quantity and intensity.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p><em>NPR</em>&nbsp;recently&nbsp;<a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/04/24/842528906/what-it-might-look-like-to-safely-reopen-schools" target="_blank">proclaimed</a>&nbsp;that “disruption from the pandemic constitutes an ‘adverse childhood experience’ for every American child.” While many children are sad to be away from their friends and activities, being home with their family members for a&nbsp;prolonged period of time is hardly an “adverse childhood experience” for most American children. Returning to schools with extreme virus control and social distancing measures, however, could very well be traumatic for many kids.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Parents may prefer to continue homeschooling and distance learning. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html" target="_blank">recommendations</a>&nbsp;for school reopening, including encouraging daily temperature checks and/​or symptom checking, face coverings for all staff and children over two, desks spaced six feet apart, staggered schedules, no cafeteria or playground use, installed partitions and physical barriers, no field trips, no toy sharing, and restrictions on outside visitors, including parents.</p> <p>As&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/05/04/students-wearing-masks-return-school-some-countries-start-reopen-during-covid-19-crisis-heres-what-that-looks-like/" target="_blank">images</a>&nbsp;emerge from countries around the world that have reopened schools, US parents are getting a&nbsp;glimpse of what extreme social distancing measures could look like here, including the latest from&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/22/world/coronavirus-news.html?type=styln-live-updates&amp;label=global&amp;index=2&amp;action=click&amp;module=Spotlight&amp;pgtype=Homepage#link-2819ad5f" target="_blank">Chinese schools</a>&nbsp;in which social distancing “wings” are strapped onto children’s backs to ensure that they stay far apart from each other. It’s no wonder that a&nbsp;new RealClear&nbsp;<a href="https://www.federationforchildren.org/national-poll-40-of-families-more-likely-to-homeschool-after-lockdowns-end/" target="_blank">opinion poll</a>&nbsp;found that 40 percent of parents intend to choose homeschooling or virtual schooling for their children when the lockdowns end. And many European parents are&nbsp;<a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/20/coronavirus-back-to-school-272592" target="_blank">refusing</a>&nbsp;to send their children back to school.</p> <p>These strict social distancing efforts at schools arise as more evidence suggests that children are largely spared from the dangers of COVID-19 infection. Even as concerns have risen recently over a&nbsp;Kawasaki‐​like inflammatory disease related to COVID-19 that has impacted some children, the risk appears miniscule. According to&nbsp;<em><a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-evidence-on-kids-and-covid-11590017095?mod=opinion_major_pos1" target="_blank">The Wall Street Journal</a></em>:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>A study in the journal Lancet last week reported 10 children with the inflammatory syndrome in Bergamo, Italy—the city with the highest rate of fatalities and infections—about 30 times higher than the normal incidence. Most were older and suffered more severe cardiac symptoms than those typically found with Kawasaki. But the authors also estimated that probably no more than 0.1% of children who had been exposed to the virus were affected. All hospitalized patients had been discharged, and the authors recommend treating patients with steroids to calm their immune system.</p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p><em>The Journal</em>&nbsp;article goes on to state:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>During these times parents and doctors need to be especially vigilant. But as a&nbsp;society we also need to keep in mind that the risks to children from the coronavirus are small, especially relative to others. The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity projects that children under 15 are 6.83 to 20.07 times more likely to die of the flu or pneumonia than coronavirus—assuming 150,000 COVID-19 fatalities in the U.S. this year—and 128 times more likely to die of an accident.</p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>We should care deeply about children’s health and safety, but like much about this pandemic, it’s important to make sure that the response isn’t more damaging than the virus itself. Many parents and educators are rightfully concerned about&nbsp;<a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/05/14/855641420/with-school-buildings-closed-children-s-mental-health-is-suffering" target="_blank">children’s mental health</a>&nbsp;during these lockdowns, but when lockdowns end and schools reopen, children’s mental health could be worsened with extreme social distancing measures that remove any of the potentially enjoyable pieces of schooling, such as playground time, extracurriculars, and gathering with friends.</p> <p>Stripped of these accessories that can often compensate for the more oppressive parts of conventional schooling, it’s not surprising that some parents and students would choose to continue with homeschooling or virtual learning until the pandemic ends.</p> </div> Fri, 22 May 2020 09:38:03 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/cdcs-guidelines-back-school-under-covid-sound-traumatizing Kerry McDonald discusses unschooling on the Sage Family podcast https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-unschooling-sage-family-podcast Tue, 19 May 2020 12:12:58 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-unschooling-sage-family-podcast Kerry McDonald participates in the webinar, “Successes and Challenges in Home Education,” hosted by the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-participates-webinar-successes-challenges-home Thu, 14 May 2020 12:46:25 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-participates-webinar-successes-challenges-home COVID-19 and the Future of Educational Freedom https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/covid-19-future-educational-freedom Kerry McDonald <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>It is an odd juxtaposition that at a&nbsp;time when families are isolated in their homes, lacking the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2019/02/liberty-what-is-it-why-is-it-good-on-what-does-it-depend-2/" target="_blank">freedom</a>&nbsp;to go about the ordinary routines of life, many are experiencing greater educational freedom. As cities shelve compulsory attendance mandates, curriculum directives, and annual testing requirements, parents are catching a&nbsp;glimpse of education without forced schooling.<sup><a href="#_ednref1" id="_edn1">1</a></sup>&nbsp;They are leveraging a&nbsp;multitude of online learning resources and spotting the ways in which their child’s creativity and curiosity rebound when allowed to explore more individualized curricula.<sup><a href="#_ednref2" id="_edn2">2</a></sup>&nbsp;Many parents are seeing that their children are happier, more focused, and more imaginative when not required to spend their days attending traditional school, and some of these parents may want to continue supporting their child’s learning at home post‐​pandemic.<sup><a href="#_ednref3" id="_edn3">3</a></sup>&nbsp;In this period of confinement and social distancing, families are discovering the expansive education opportunities outside of conventional classrooms.</p> </div> , <h3 class="heading"> A&nbsp;Glimpse of Homeschooling </h3> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>In this period of confinement and social distancing, families are discovering the expansive education opportunities outside of conventional classrooms. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Because of COVID‐​19‐​related lockdowns, hundreds of millions of young people have been discharged from traditional school settings.<sup><a href="#_ednref4" id="_edn4">4</a></sup>&nbsp;Some are following the same curriculum and attendance requirements that they otherwise would, but others have been unleashed from such strictures. Some families are using this unusual circumstance to withdraw their children permanently from local school districts, opting for independent homeschooling instead of the “remote schooling” that many municipalities are offering. One such parent shared with me the e‐​mail he sent to his school district’s superintendent officially withdrawing his son. “His mood and vitality flipped like a&nbsp;switch when we told him this remote schooling was over,” he wrote. “It also uncovered his apathy toward [traditional] schooling in general.”</p> <p>The modern homeschooling movement began in earnest in the 1970s, first among countercultural leftists who were dissatisfied with government‐​controlled schools and chose not to send their children to them. The homeschooling population swelled during the 1980s and ’90s, particularly as religious conservatives began to educate their children at home and pushed for legal recognition of their right to do so. Over the past four decades, homeschooling numbers have soared to nearly two million students in the United States, moving from the sidelines to a&nbsp;mainstream education option.<sup><a href="#_ednref5" id="_edn5">5</a></sup>&nbsp;Today’s homeschoolers are more demographically and ideologically diverse than they were even a&nbsp;decade ago, and the homeschooling population is increasingly reflective of American society more generally.<sup><a href="#_ednref6" id="_edn6">6</a></sup>&nbsp;Although religion still plays a&nbsp;role in many families’ decision to homeschool their children, much of the recent growth in the practice comes from urban, secular families who value a&nbsp;more individualized approach to learning.<sup><a href="#_ednref7" id="_edn7">7</a></sup>&nbsp;According to the most recent federal data, more parents are choosing homeschooling out of “concern about the school environment”—specifically in regard to “safety, drugs, and negative peer pressure.”<sup><a href="#_ednref1=8" id="_edn1=8">8</a></sup></p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>And then there’s the often dismal academic performance of students in government schools. The most recent results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often called the “Nation’s Report Card,” reveal that two‐​thirds of American students are not proficient in reading, and U.S. history and geography scores have declined as well.<sup><a href="#_ednref1=9" id="_edn1=9">9</a></sup>&nbsp;Although current research on homeschooling has its limitations, given its reliance on surveys and a&nbsp;lack of control studies, most peer‐​reviewed studies show that homeschoolers outperform their peers and have more positive life experiences, including greater career satisfaction and personal fulfillment.<sup><a href="#_ednref10" id="_edn10">10</a></sup>&nbsp;Another recent study shows that today’s homeschoolers take greater advantage of the resources in their communities and thereby cultivate more useful knowledge and valuable relationships than many of their traditionally schooled peers.<sup><a href="#_ednref11" id="_edn11">11</a></sup>&nbsp;On average, they more often visit local libraries and museums, and they attend more cultural activities, such as musical, theatrical, and athletic events.</p> <p>As many are learning, homeschooling no longer requires a&nbsp;two‐​parent household in which one parent stays home to teach. Today, homeschoolers increasingly take advantage of hybrid homeschooling models; low‐​cost, in‐​home micro‐​schools; self‐​directed learning centers; virtual learning; community classes; and apprenticeship programs.<sup><a href="#_ednref12" id="_edn12">12</a></sup>&nbsp;These and other innovations make homeschooling a&nbsp;viable option for more families than ever. Education‐​choice mechanisms such as education savings accounts and tax‐​credit programs also help more families to choose alternatives to conventional schooling by defraying costs of learning materials, classes, books, tutors, and more.</p> </div> , <h3 class="heading"> The Future of Homeschooling </h3> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The government response to the COVID-19 pandemic clearly is accelerating the shift away from conventional schooling and toward homeschooling. A&nbsp;recent survey by EdChoice found that 52 percent of respondents have a&nbsp;more favorable view of homeschooling than they did before the outbreak.<sup><a href="#_ednref13" id="_edn13">13</a></sup>&nbsp;And with greater freedom to explore their interests, many children are learning to cultivate their passions and purpose like never before.</p> <p>Although homeschooling has been legal throughout the United States for about thirty years, opponents of homeschooling continue to push for greater government oversight and even “presumptive bans” on the practice.<sup><a href="#_ednref14" id="_edn14">14</a></sup>&nbsp;If parents and policymakers wish to protect and promote&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2019/02/liberty-what-is-it-why-is-it-good-on-what-does-it-depend-2/" target="_blank">liberty</a>, they must push back against efforts to regulate or ban this educational approach. Given the impact of a&nbsp;good education on a&nbsp;child’s life trajectory, those concerned with freedom and progress will be hard‐​pressed to find an issue more important than&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2012/11/new-abolition/" target="_blank">defending the rights of parents and children&nbsp;</a> to decide how best to pursue this value.</p> <p>In&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/who-is-ayn-rand/">Ayn Rand</a>’s&nbsp;<em>Atlas Shrugged</em>, protagonist Dagny Taggart witnesses children in a&nbsp;valley who learn outside of “educational systems devised to stunt a&nbsp;child’s brain,” noting that “they had the eager curiosity that would venture anywhere with the certainty that life held nothing unworthy of or closed to discovery.”<sup><a href="#_ednref15" id="_edn15">15</a></sup>&nbsp;Although, during a&nbsp;lockdown, we can’t venture far, parents nonetheless have an opportunity to help rekindle such eager curiosity in their children, giving them the setting, resources, and confidence to make the discoveries that will enrich their lives and ours.</p> </div> Mon, 11 May 2020 08:55:10 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/covid-19-future-educational-freedom Is Homeschooling Authoritarian? https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-daily-podcast/homeschooling-authoritarian Kerry McDonald, Caleb O. Brown <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p><em>Harvard Magazine</em>’s depiction of homeschooling as authoritarian stands at odds with reality. Kerry McDonald explains.</p> </div> Fri, 08 May 2020 18:07:01 -0400 Kerry McDonald, Caleb O. Brown https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-daily-podcast/homeschooling-authoritarian Kerry McDonald participates in the webinar, “Online Learning and Homeschooling Options for Parents and Children During the COVID-19 Crisis,” hosted by the Pacific Research Institute https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-participates-webinar-online-learning-homeschooling Mon, 04 May 2020 15:07:32 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-participates-webinar-online-learning-homeschooling Kerry McDonald on the future of homeschooling https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-audio/kerry-mcdonald-future-homeschooling Mon, 04 May 2020 10:35:20 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-audio/kerry-mcdonald-future-homeschooling Corey A. DeAngelis and Kerry McDonald participate in the event, “The Disinformation Campaign Against Homeschooling, “ hosted by Ideological Diversity, a Student Organization at the Harvard Kennedy School https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/corey-deangelis-kerry-mcdonald-participate-event-disinformation Fri, 01 May 2020 12:46:25 -0400 Corey A. DeAngelis, Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/corey-deangelis-kerry-mcdonald-participate-event-disinformation Kerry McDonald participates in the webinar, “Child Protective Services threat to Your Parental Rights,” hosted by the Freedom Hub Working Group https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/kerry-mcdonald-participates-webinar-child-protective-services Thu, 30 Apr 2020 12:11:27 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/kerry-mcdonald-participates-webinar-child-protective-services Kerry McDonald discusses Harvard’s attack against homeschooling on KONP’s The Todd Ortloff Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-harvards-attack-against-homeschooling Wed, 29 Apr 2020 09:52:00 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-harvards-attack-against-homeschooling Kerry McDonald discusses Harvard’s attack on homeschooling on the Josh Peak Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-harvards-attack-homeschooling-josh-peak Wed, 29 Apr 2020 09:50:30 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-harvards-attack-homeschooling-josh-peak Corey A. DeAngelis, Kerry McDonald, and Jason Bedrick discuss whether homeschooling is under attack on Project Forever Free https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/corey-deangelis-kerry-mcdonald-jason-bedrick-discuss-whether Mon, 27 Apr 2020 11:41:01 -0400 Corey A. DeAngelis, Kerry McDonald, Jason Bedrick https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/corey-deangelis-kerry-mcdonald-jason-bedrick-discuss-whether The Case against Homeschool Regulation https://www.cato.org/blog/case-against-homeschool-regulation Kerry McDonald <p>Even as over <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/infographic-covid19-coronavirus-impact-global-education-health-schools/">one billion</a> students around the world endure unchosen school‐​at‐​home during the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in authentic homeschooling has grown. A&nbsp;new <a href="https://www.edchoice.org/engage/polling-american-k-12-school-parents-about-covid-19/">survey</a> by EdChoice found that more than half of respondents have a&nbsp;more favorable view of homeschooling as a&nbsp;result of this global health crisis, while 26 percent have a&nbsp;less favorable view. As a&nbsp;homeschooling mother of four children and author of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Unschooled-Well-Educated-Children-Conventional-Classroom/dp/1641600632/"><em>Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well‐​Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom</em></a>, I&nbsp;can confidently say that what we are all experiencing now, being stuck at home with our children and isolated from our larger community, is nothing like genuine homeschooling, but it is nevertheless encouraging to see more favorable perceptions of the practice. For opponents of homeschooling, however, heightened public interest in this educational approach is triggering <a href="https://cap.law.harvard.edu/events-and-conferences/homeschooling-summit-june-18-19-2020/">calls</a> for increased regulation and even “presumptive bans” on homeschooling, as put forth in a&nbsp;recent <em>Harvard Magazine</em> <a href="https://harvardmagazine.com/2020/05/right-now-risks-homeschooling">article</a>. Here are some reasons that is a&nbsp;bad idea:</p> <p><strong>The “liberty interest of parents”</strong></p> <p>In the landmark 1925 US Supreme Court case <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/268/510"><em>Pierce v. Society of Sisters</em></a>, the court overturned an Oregon law banning private education, stating that the “child is not the mere creature of the State.” That case examined private education broadly and did not specifically address homeschooling, which was virtually non‐​existent at the time. As the modern homeschooling movement emerged in the late‐​1970s, courts grappled with how to interpret a&nbsp;parent’s right to educate a&nbsp;child outside of a&nbsp;conventional schooling environment, and the practice became legally recognized in all US states by the mid‐​1990s.</p> <p>As the number of homeschoolers swells to nearly two million US children <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/briefing-paper/homeschooling-educational-freedom-why-school-choice-good-homeschoolers">today</a>, courts continue to uphold parents’ rights to home educate their children. In 2018, the Georgia Court of Appeals overturned a&nbsp;lower court ruling against homeschooling, <a href="https://efast.gaappeals.us/download?filingId=14fff76e-98ea-43b3-85aa-c625b668e1f0">stating</a>: “<span>The liberty interest of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is the most ancient of the fundamental rights we hold as a&nbsp;people, and is ‘deeply embedded in our law.’ This cherished right derives from the natural order, preexists government, and may not be interfered with by the State except in the most compelling circumstances.”</span></p> <p>Compelling circumstances for government intervention include child abuse, where it is important to protect a&nbsp;child from harm. Homeschooling opponents argue that because homeschooled children are not in schools where there are “mandated reporters” of suspected abuse, they could be abused by parents and, therefore, homeschooling families require government monitoring or outright bans. Tragically, child abuse occurs everywhere, including in public and private schools. Singling out a&nbsp;particular group of people for increased suspicion and monitoring without cause simply because they choose to live and learn differently is a&nbsp;gross violation of privacy and liberty. Child abuse laws exist in all states and should be duly enforced, but subjecting an entire group to government oversight on speculation rather than proof is troubling.</p> <p><strong>Glass houses and stones</strong></p> <p>Abuse in public schools is disturbingly common; yet those who propose bans on homeschooling in the name of child welfare don’t suggest the same for public schools. According to a&nbsp;2004 <a href="https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/index.html?fbclid=IwAR3mxtqZGCpaE13t0KIn4EFv1YEoeP7LGK0dGGhDG8aQ_alNw6_9bCXvaes">report</a> by the US Department of Education, 1&nbsp;in 10 students will experience sexual abuse by a&nbsp;public school educator by the time they graduate from high school. Additionally, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/principal-teacher-charged-in-connection-with-alleged-abuse-of-special-needs-students-at-va-school/2019/12/16/2a9d5428-2037-11ea-bed5-880264cc91a9_story.html">physical abuse</a> against public school students by teachers and administrators also regularly occurs, as does <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2019/08/10/stop-bullying/1965145001/">bullying</a> and abuse by peers. Moreover, many students are deeply unhappy at school. A&nbsp;new Yale <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0959475218304444">study</a> finds that nearly three‐​quarters of American high school students have negative feelings toward their schooling. “Concern about the environment of other schools, including safety, drugs, and negative peer pressure,” is a&nbsp;<a href="https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2017102">primary motivator</a> for today’s homeschooling families who choose to refrain from sending their children to schools that they deem unsafe or undesirable.</p> <p>Families choose homeschooling for a&nbsp;panoply of reasons, but much of the recent growth in the U.S. homeschool population is being driven by <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/why-urban-educated-parents-are-turning-diy-education-64349">urban, secular</a> families who want a&nbsp;more personalized, less standardized learning environment for their children, as well as <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/the-rise-of-homeschooling-among-black-families/385543/">families of color</a> who want to escape low‐​performing schools and institutional racism. Bans on homeschooling or increased regulation of the practice force compliance with government‐​imposed education standards that, in many cases, are exactly what families are fleeing when they choose homeschooling.</p> <p>Homeschooling opponents, such as Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet, argue for bans on homeschooling, <a href="https://harvardmagazine.com/2020/05/right-now-risks-homeschooling">saying</a> it’s <span>“important that children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.” But recent </span><a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0161956X.2019.1617582"><span>research</span></a><span> on homeschooling by Daniel Hamlin at the University of Oklahoma finds that homeschooled children actually have higher participation in cultural activities than their schooled peers, spending ample time in local libraries, museums, and other cultural venues. This echoes earlier </span><a href="https://peabody.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/pje/pje_volume_88_issue_3_2013/medlin.php"><span>research</span></a><span> by Richard Medlin of Stetson University who found that homeschooled students exhibit strong civic engagement and social skills. </span></p> <p><span>While more research is needed, most peer‐​reviewed studies on homeschooling outcomes </span><a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15582159.2017.1395638"><span>show</span></a><span> that homeschoolers academically outperform students who are conventionally schooled. Meanwhile, the most recent results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, show lackluster academic achievement in conventional schools, particularly in </span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/30/us/reading-scores-national-exam.html"><span>reading</span></a><span> where two‐​thirds of American children do not demonstrate proficiency. Parents should be free to pursue an educational path for their children that is not tied to a&nbsp;government system of questionable competence, both in educating children and in securing their overall welfare. </span></p> <p><span>In the recent <em>Harvard Magazine</em> </span><a href="https://harvardmagazine.com/2020/05/right-now-risks-homeschooling"><span>article</span></a><span> against homeschooling, Professor Bartholet expresses concern about “authoritarian control” over children as a&nbsp;justification for banning homeschooling, but banning homeschooling is itself authoritarian. </span>Parents have an evolutionary imperative to ensure their child’s well‐​being. Indeed, they have been the ones most capable of sustaining our survival as a&nbsp;species for millennia. They may not always succeed, but neither does the state. Placing trust in families, and preserving their “liberty interest” in raising and educating their children as they see fit, is the preferred pathway toward a&nbsp;free and tolerant society.</p> Fri, 24 Apr 2020 16:03:38 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/blog/case-against-homeschool-regulation Kerry McDonald participates in the event, “Global Homeschool Leaders Panel,” hosted by the Global Home Education Exchange https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-participates-event-global-homeschool-leaders-panel Fri, 24 Apr 2020 12:09:08 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-participates-event-global-homeschool-leaders-panel Kerry McDonald discusses Harvard’s problem with homeschooling on the Acton Institute podcast https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-harvards-problem-homeschooling-acton Wed, 22 Apr 2020 12:03:19 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-harvards-problem-homeschooling-acton Kerry McDonald discusses homeschooling during COVID-19 on Libertarian Party TV https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-homeschooling-during-covid-19-libertarian Thu, 16 Apr 2020 12:36:53 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-homeschooling-during-covid-19-libertarian Kerry McDonald discusses alternative education strategies during the quarantine on Kibbe on Liberty https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-alternative-education-strategies-during Wed, 15 Apr 2020 11:59:51 -0400 Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/kerry-mcdonald-discusses-alternative-education-strategies-during Corey A. DeAngelis and Kerry McDonald discuss the differences between unschooling and homeschooling on the Educational Freedom Institute’s podcast https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/corey-deangelis-kerry-mcdonald-discuss-differences-between Fri, 10 Apr 2020 10:52:29 -0400 Corey A. DeAngelis, Kerry McDonald https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/corey-deangelis-kerry-mcdonald-discuss-differences-between