An Open Letter To Homeschoolers

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As a father of three children, who my wife and I homeschool, I am deeply disappointed with the recent endorsement for President of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, by an organization which has helped a lot of us over the years. The Home School Legal Defense Association has come out in favor of a candidate who has touted his Christian beliefs and support of homeschoolers, but whose record belies that support.

Like me, you probably view any government involvement in your children’s education with a jaundiced eye. We’ve seen the literacy and graduation rates plummet year after year in our nation’s public schools while special interest groups constantly pass blame for this onto parents, taxpayers and a lack of enough centralized control.

HSDLA has for over two decades been a great help to homeschoolers and has advocated against those who have stood in opposition to our goals. Their staff members advised my family when local Child Protective Services personnel wanted to investigate a mother who we’d taken in. Their advice was invaluable and saved us from a potentially perilous situation. But the advice they are providing with regard to the Presidential election is a poor example of scholarly research and appears to run counter to the ideals they’ve promoted for so many years.

As a homeschooling parent, I hold that the state has no authority to dictate what my children should learn or the methods by which my wife and I teach them. In short, the state does not own my children. Mike Huckabee, whom the HSLDA has endorsed, does not feel this way in spite of statements he has uttered supporting that view. As Governor of Arkansas, Huckabee showed a poor understanding of this fundamental truth and advocated that parents be forced to submit their curriculum choices to the state for approval while claiming that the law in question was an increase in freedoms for homeschooling parents. HSLDA has typically advocated that families shouldn’t be required to get permission from the state to homeschool their children.

Huckabee’s record is at odds with their general principles. He has played politics with the issue and tried to please both unions and homeschoolers in his state. In order to keep homeschoolers’ objections at bay, he appointed leading homeschooling advocates to the state board of education. Like Bill Clinton, Mike Huckabee is a very slick politician. Maybe we need less slickness and more uncompromising principle on the matter of schooling.

If Mike Huckabee is such a strong advocate for homeschoolers as some suggest, how could the organization which said the following (pdf) about homeschooling have justified their endorsement of his candidacy?

The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.

The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools. The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting. (1988, 2006) pp. 45 B-75

That is taken directly from the NEA’s charter. The NEA is one of the largest anti-homeschooling organizations in the U.S., yet its New Hampshire organization has endorsed Mike Huckabee. Does something seem wrong with this picture? Before you imagine that this was somewhat random, Huckabee in fact actively sought the endorsement.

Just how is it that Huckabee can be perceived as a homeschooling advocate? The actual record isn’t as pretty as the flowery words he uses to describe it.

  • During his term as Governor, Huckabee signed into law increases in mandatory vaccination schedules and expanding coverage from public schools to private daycares.
  • During the Univision debate, held in Florida, Huckabee reiterated his strong support of the federal Department of Education, an agency which has no legitimate authority dictating curriculum to the states, much less existing.
  • He has advocated that federal funds be distributed to pay for arts and music studies in state schools as a “reform” to the No Child Left Behind act, a position — a big hit with the teachers unions.
  • In 1999, Mike Huckabee signed into law a bill which added major restrictions on homeschooling parents and which was opposed by the HSLDA.

There are also other areas where Huckabee shows poor judgment, specifically, US foreign and monetary policy. Over the past 60 years, the United States government has not only encroached on our personal lives, but also the lives of citizens in other countries. Our military has been used to intimidate and bully other nations. Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations he has called for continued U.S. intervention abroad because it is in our “national interests” to do so.

Unfortunately, these national interests do not include you and me. Because of this belligerent meddling, there are fewer countries where we can safely take our families to visit. When I first imagined the prospect of homeschooling my own children, I was excited to think that I could travel around the world with my children, giving them a rich experience which would enhance their knowledge and increase their imaginations.

This is becoming less and less likely for my family. Central and South America have been destabilized by a foreign policy which has installed brutal dictators, only to see them finally ousted by violent revolutions; resulting in leaders as bad or worse than the U.S. installed puppet regimes. The Middle East, with its fantastic sights and holy places, is now an unwelcome region for anyone carrying a US passport. It was not always this way. Europe is financially out of reach for a middle class family due to our federal government’s horrendous monetary policies.

The main reason I write this letter is because there is a candidate on the Republican ticket who has been a champion of policies which would enhance the lives of any homeschooling family as well as those families who chose to send their children to public schools. That Candidate is Ron Paul. Ron Paul, unlike Mike Huckabee, will probably never receive an endorsement from the NEA. That is because Ron Paul has never pandered in his entire political career.

As a Congressman, Ron Paul has been a consistent champion of educational choice.

  • Introduced the Family Education Freedom Act which would provide parents a $3000 tax credit to spend on private tuition or homeschooling curriculum.
  • Opposed The No Child Left Behind Act.
  • Has encouraged homeschooling in speeches and statements during his 10 terms in Congress.
  • Sponsored legislation which would abolish the federal Department of Education.

In addition, Ron Paul bases his positions upon basic founding principles of this country. His consistent and dogged defense of those principles has continued in spite of the ridicule heaped upon him by detractors who fundamentally disagree with those principles. That consistency has produced a groundswell of support unsurpassed in history. So powerful are the ideas that he’s promoted over the course of his career that enthusiasm for their possibilities has spread beyond our borders to other countries.

I can’t tell you how to vote, nor would I engage in such presumption. But for all the reasons I’ve laid out here and more too numerous to include in this letter, I believe that Ron Paul has a far superior record compared to anyone who might claim they support homeschooling. Won’t you please investigate for yourself why so many in this country have shed their apathy and cynicism to support him?

Sincerely,
Rick Fisk

P.S.: If you can afford it and do chose to travel abroad with your family, I suspect that you could find yourself in status as a minor celebrity were you to tour your destination wearing an item of clothing with Ron Paul’s name on it. Ron Paul’s positions on foreign policy and military interventionism have inspired thousands upon thousands outside our borders. An excellent homeschool project would be the production of a YouTube video documenting foreign public reactions to Ron Paul’s stated positions on U.S. Foreign Policy.

Rick Fisk [send him mail] is a 45-year-old software developer and entrepreneur. He is married, has three children and resides in Austin, TX.

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