Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Beware of well-meaning, uninformed ‘experts’

- JOHN ROSEMOND Write to family psychologi­st John Rosemond at The Leadership Parenting Institute, 420 Craven St., New Bern, N.C. 28560 or email Due to the volume of mail, not every question will be answered.

In his November 1863 address at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the men who lost their lives on that battlefiel­d had done so in order that “government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Lincoln was restating a principle first set forth in the Declaratio­n of Independen­ce, a principle es- sential to the preservati­on of our historical­ly unique form of government.

Then and now, American political and cultural tensions have boiled down to an ever-escalating tug of war between those who believe in the power of government and those who believe in the Founders’ original vision. Exemplary of the former is Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet, quoted in a Harvard Magazine (May/June 2020) article titled “The Risks of Homeschool­ing.”

Bartholet’s animus toward homeschool­ing is palpable. She believes it exposes children to abuse, not to mention inferior educationa­l standards, not to mention undemocrat­ic values, not to mention “authoritar­ian control” exercised by parents who largely believe in female subservien­ce, white supremacy and a biblical view of creation. She wants it outlawed.

Bartholet opines, “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people (parents, that is) in charge of the powerless (children), and to give the powerful ones total authority.”

Yes, well, so do I. Every feature and expression of democracy is fraught with potential danger. Human nature is not a pretty thing, and the ugliest expression­s of human nature are almost always committed by people in positions of power. But history teaches that the greatest abuses are perpetrate­d by those who deny the realities of our nature and harbor utopian visions. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Brandeis put it best: “The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachme­nt by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understand­ing.”

Bartholet essentiall­y advances the propositio­n that government is a more trustworth­y caretaker of children than their parents. It is “dangerous,” she says, for a child to spend his entire day, day after day, with his parents. With that absurd notion, she qualifies as a well-intentione­d person of zeal who is dangerousl­y lacking in understand­ing. On the basis of an uber-small number of homeschool­ing parents who abuse the right to direct their children’s education, she would assign all children to the vagaries of a government-run bureaucrac­y that is — as are all bureaucrac­ies, ultimately — more interested in self-preservati­on than the preservati­on of our flawed but unsurpasse­d system of self-rule.

In a rebuttal to Bartholet, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly asks, “Can fair-minded people not acknowledg­e that parents have every right to choose their child’s educationa­l route?”

Indeed, fair-minded people can acknowledg­e what fair-minded jurists have affirmed, but people who believe in “government of the bureaucrac­y, by the bureaucrac­y, and for the bureaucrac­y” are not fair-minded. Their well-meaning zeal so narrows their point of view that, as in Bartholet’s case, the big picture ultimately disappears.

When all is said and done, the best regulator of the homeschool­ing parent is other homeschool­ing parents, motivated by desire to preserve their own and everyone else’s freedoms. Long may they run.

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