This past Monday, unschooling mom and homeschooling advocate Kerry McDonald took on the Harvard professor, Elizabeth Bartholet, who recently called for a "presumptive ban" on homeschooling. Their debate was sponsored by the Cato Institute, and you can watch it here.
I give Professor Bartholet credit for engaging in the debate. It is rare that those of the–let's just call it "authoritarian"–persuasion are willing to engage in open debate with those who do not share their worldview. But to be frank, Kerry (very politely and very professionally) stomped her into the pavement and then ran back and forth over her with a steamroller.
As Kerry points out in her follow-up commentary, this debate is not only about homeschooling. It is fundamentally about the relationship of all of us to the state:
While this event was framed as a discussion about homeschooling, including whether and how to regulate the practice, it is clear that homeschooling is just a 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 Arizona Law Review article that sparked this controversy, Professor Bartholet makes it clear that she is seeking a reinterpretation of the US Constitution, which she calls “outdated and inadequate,” to move from its existing focus on negative rights, or individuals being free from state intervention, to positive rights where the state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 much more active role in citizens’ lives.
To get a peek into the mindset of those who believe wholeheartedly in both the rightness and the capability of the state to direct every aspect of our lives–and also to see the feebleness of that position exposed–it is worth watching the whole thing.
Kerry was a guest on my podcast earlier this month, talking about how we can give our kids "old normal" lives, and she will be back on next week talking about this debate and its significance not only for homeschooling families but for anyone concerned about freedom.