Saturday, March 25, 2023

Stop Trying to Take Away Options From Parents Like Mine

I attended multiple public schools, I was homeschooled, then I finally found my place in a private school. I was in an environment when I was bullied and couldn’t truly focus on my learning. I was more concerned with trying to avoid a “knuckle sandwich” than understanding multiplication. My parents fought tooth and nail to get me out of my zoned school because it simply didn’t work for me. My parents were tired of waiting for that moment where the school was going to “eventually” improve. They put me in a school where I could truly excel and now I see the positive impact that has had on my life. That was the best option for me.

My parents knew it. And they know what’s best for my brothers. 

Growing up, I was taught to ignore ludicrous claims. Why give perpetuators of ridiculousness a platform? But now I realize remaining silent can be an irresponsible way to live life.

Recently, Harvard Magazine published an article in which Professor Elizabeth Bartholet recommends a presumptive ban on homeschooling. She claims the practice puts children and society at risk. The article states that homeschooling, “not only violates children’s right to a ‘meaningful education’ and their right to be protected from potential child abuse but may keep them from contributing positively to a democratic society.”

Let me tell you, this does not sit well with parents and students who actually benefit from homeschooling. 

My parents are strong advocates for homeschooling. It allows them to be present in my siblings’ formative years. My two younger brothers have never been in a public school and they are excelling right from home. One wants to be a real estate agent, the other an astronaut. They have great social skills and hang around kids their age with no problems. Bartholet says children should “grow up exposed to…democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.” This only works if children have a firm foundation of their own values first. And parents are a child’s first teacher.

Bartholet worries about a lack of regulation and that homeschooled students will be denied a “meaningful education equivalent to that required in public schools.” She goes so far as to claim this as a threat to our democracy. Are we seriously using traditional public schools as the barometer of how we measure a meaningful education? Does this include the public schools that never close even after failing millions of students year after year? 

Harvard has cancelled a previously scheduled anti-homeschooling event. It’s hard to say how much the untimeliness of the pandemic influenced their decision. But do not be fooled: the elite who were likely never forced to attend a failing school or send their children to one will continue to strip parents of the fundamental right to control their child’s education. There is no perfect system, but it is asinine to claim one system is the best option for all children. 

Parents should be in the driver’s seat of their child’s education. During this time of uncertainty and change we need more options, not less. 

Walter Blanks Jr
Walter Blanks Jr. is the Press Secretary for American Federation for Children (AFC) and a private school choice program beneficiary. From a young age, Walter recognized that many children are still stuck in underperforming schools and wanted to do something about it. Before joining AFC full-time, Walter was chosen for the first cohort of the American Federation for Children Future Leaders Fellowship, a year-long advocacy and professional development program for graduates of private school choice programs. Before moving to Washington, D.C. to join the national team, Walter championed educational freedom and shared his story across the country serving as a 2018 50CAN National Voices Fellow, an advocacy fellowship that aims to find, connect and support young leaders in education. At AFC, Walter leads both the Voices for Choice and Future Leaders Fellowship programs. These flagship programs of the National Communications team elevate the voices of students, parents, and educators who have benefitted from school choice programs across America. Walter also serves as a spokesperson for AFC and frequently appears in local and national print and news media. A gifted and in-demand speaker, Walter travels across the country sharing his story and advocating for expanding educational opportunities to more children and families. Walter received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Media Production from Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, Ohio.



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