To ban or not to ban, that is the homeschooling question.

Professor Elizabeth Bartholet  seems to be a bit confused about the jaw-dropping recommendation to ban homeschooling written in the law review article ascribed to her. A few days ago, the program she directs at Harvard Law School tweeted a statement in response to the “many hundreds of comments and questions related to my position on homeschooling.”

In her statement, she says, “I am not in favor of a ban of homeschooling, but I do support regulation of homeschooling to ensure every child’s right to protection and education.” She then says her Arizona Law Review article is “[t]he original and most detailed version of my position.”

Hmmm. Something does not quite add up.

Original Text

Her statement suggests that she has never supported a ban of homeschooling. Yet her law review article says quite explicitly, “The new legal regime should impose a presumptive ban on homeschooling, allowing an exception for parents who can satisfy a burden of justification.”

It also says, “The new regime should deny the right to homeschool, subject to carefully delineated exceptions for situations in which homeschooling is needed and appropriate. Parents should have a significant burden of justification for a requested exception.”

Perhaps she hangs her hat on the thin distinction between a total ban and a presumptive ban with extremely limited exceptions. But it was she who supposedly wrote the words “presumptive ban on homeschooling.”

Shades of Meaning

There is little comfort in the distinction between a total ban that would reduce the number of homeschoolers to zero and a presumptive ban that would reduce the number from millions to hundreds.

If she has had a change of heart and has moved from “ban” and “deny” to merely “regulate,” we welcome her step in our direction, even though it’s small. If that is the case, rather than sending us to the offending article as the best statement of her views, we would prefer a retraction of the law-review article.

We are not holding our breath.