Harvard Symposium to Challenge Parental Rights

Do you believe that children are better served when fit parents have the liberty to raise, nurture, and educate them? Or do think children are better off when the decisions of loving parents are influenced, modified, and sometimes replaced by the opinions of state-appointed experts, who believe they are acting in the best interests of your child?

That is the question of our age, as more and more of the zones traditionally left to fit parents are intruded upon by an ever-growing state mechanism that thinks it knows best.

One bold example of this intrusion can be seen in an upcoming Harvard event that looks to challenge the role of parents by questioning their right and ability to educate their children.

The event is called “The Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform.”

You and I know that the liberty to homeschool stands on the right of parents to direct the education of their children.  Yet the speakers for this summit make arguments for regulating homeschooling out of necessity, which would amount to invading the zone of parental decision-making that I mentioned above.

One of this summit’s co-organizers is James Dwyer, a law professor at the College of William & Mary. He is the professor famous for claiming that “the reason parent-child relationships exist is because the State confers legal parenthood . . .”

Dwyer went even further in his 1994 law review article “Parents’ Religion and Children’s Welfare: Debunking the Doctrine of Parents’ Rights” (82 Calif. L. Rev. 1371), arguing that “the claim that parents should have child-rearing rights—rather than simply being permitted to perform parental duties and to make certain decisions on a child’s behalf in accordance with the child’s rights—is inconsistent with principles deeply embedded in our law and morality.”

This is just an example of how the co-organizers of this event disregard the rights and importance of parents.

The other co-organizer, Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet, is working on a draft law review article called “Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection,”  in which she is critical of those of us (some called out by name) who hold the traditional view that children are best protected when parents are presumed to be acting in their child’s best interest.

That view is hardly “absolutist.” But it is both traditional and, according to what the Supreme Court has said for decades, the correct legal view. Yet, even though both the Supreme Court and tradition are on our side, there are still those who want to take these basic rights away from parents.

Elitist opinions like those held by Professors Dwyer and Bartholet are why ParentalRights.org exist, and why we have worked to amend the US Constitution to include the right of parents to raise, nurture, and educate their children.

We will be following the Harvard event with interest. In the face of these arguments against the natural bonds of families, we stand for the rights of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.

But we cannot do this without your support. Would you be willing to partner with us today as we continue to spread awareness and affect change in support of parents’ rights?

People like Professors Dwyer and Bartholet will continue to push against our work – and the work of like-minded organizations. But the generous support of partners like you enables us to keep responding to threats, passing good legislation, and fighting for families across America.

To learn more about the Harvard event and its Child Advocacy Program, visit this site.


James Mason