Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Freedom of Education: Huckabee vs. Ron Paul?

Does Huckabee or does Ron Paul really stand for freedom of education? The Cato Institute's discussion of Huckabee as a big government conservative, featured on Fox News and reprinted here, gives us a good idea of which one of these two candidates really supports the rights of parents to make their own school choices. As the article points out, Huckabee is oriented to spending on public education:

"Because he believes that "art and music are as important as math and science" in public schools, he wants these programs funded -- and thus, directed and administered -- federally. Huckabee is, incidentally, the only Republican candidate for president who opposes school choice. Huckabee has called for increased federal spending on a variety of programs from infrastructure to health care."

In contrast to Huckabee is Ron Paul, who is a signatory for the Alliance for the Separation of School and State's Public Proclamation: "I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education." (You may sign it too, if you wish, by going to

What's wrong with government involvement in education is that "money for schools" comes from taxes, and increasingly we are seeing taxation without real representation. Legislation that affects schools is often whisked through state and federal governments before parents and communities have a chance to see what's happening.

The money that was given to schools under the No Child Left Behind Act was given under the presumption that local and state schools could no longer manage their own affairs. Increasing federal control means reducing local control, and reducing local control means less parental involvement and a weakening of the bonds of schools to neighborhood and community.

Consolidation and centralization of schools is carried out in the name of rescuing supposedly "failing" schools, or, as in the case of Huckabee's plans in the name of providing more "arts and music" for the students. In a similar case two days ago in Birmingham, Alabama, it was suddenly announced that 18 local elementary schools were to close in order to provide more "arts and music" in a consolidated setting for their students. Members of the Birmingham City Council, as well as concerned citizens not only asked for "more transparency" from the local and state boards of education, but were obviously angry at a decision that, as Ronald Jackson, head of Birmingham's Citizens for Better Schools, stated: "...benefits no one...but the banks." (Birmingham News, Wednesday December 12, 2007)

In order to protect our right to send our children to the school of our choice, as well as our right as a parent to influence and be involved in our child's education,
we must not be dazzled by government promises to put more money into schools. How much time does the government need to prove that increased centralization improves the learning process? Our government has had 150 years to prove its point, and studies have definitively shown that parental involvement, local control and coherent communities are the key to better education. Please join Ron Paul in signing the Alliance for the Separation of School and State's proclamation, and please join me in voting for Ron Paul, a candidate who will really protect freedom of education.

Fox News on Huckabee

There is an article on Foxnews talking about how Huckabee is a big government conservative.,2933,316496,00.html

One statement really jumped out at me:

"Huckabee is, incidentally, the only Republican candidate for president who opposes school choice."

I guess that is why Huckabee got an NEA Endorsement from NH.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

NEA to Endorse Huckabee!

Today the NEA announced that it will endorse Clinton on the Democratic side, and Huckabee on the Republican side.

Keep in mind that that the NEA has said things like:
"Home Schools Run By Well-Meaning Amateurs
Schools With Good Teachers Are Best-Suited to Shape Young Minds"


"We know that parental involvement is imperative for school achievement, but delegates were concerned that home schools were not required to use state-approved curricula. They agreed that homeschooled students have done well on national tests and were the top spellers in the National Spelling Bee two years ago, but felt home school instruction should meet certain state education standards."

and issued a resolution:

"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."

Etc., Etc.,

I think Huckabee was chosen on the Republican side despite his past support of Homeschooling because of his strong support for NCLB, further nationalization of Education, and opposition to school vouchers. And since he was the first governor to sign into law a restriction on Homeschooling, they must know that when push comes to shove, he’ll be willing to sacrifice his support of Homeschooling if need be.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Homeschoolers vs. the European Union

Homeschooling vs. The European Union

Europeans who want to homeschool look to America as a place where it is legal to homeschool, and a place where homeschooling thrives. Certainly, horror stories are coming out of Europe (Germany, Belgium, Holland) about bans, crackdowns and prohibitions on homeschooling. A German federal court recently upheld the view that homeschooling constitutes child endangerment, leaving it possible for the state to deny custody to the parents of German homeschooling children, whether they are in Germany or not.

I suggested in my last blog that some homeschooling families have decided to make an issue of homeschooling, accounting for some of the publicity. However, another aspect of the problem is the fact that homeschooling and private education in general is not in accordance with European Union policy. An army of EU thinktanks is steadily marching forward with a 5-year plan (2007-2013) to “internationalize” education. These policy-making organizations claim to be concerned with freedom of education. However, the more important agenda is to “internationalize” by strengthening international networking in education throughout Europe, and carrying out such monumental tasks as “funding (of) trans-national projects” and supporting “large manifestations, studies, communication and information events which are able to reach a large audience (to) make Europe more concrete for its citizen,” as well as creating a new European Union citizen. (This appears in a document entitled “Mapping European Union Policy” published by the Socires organization, which describes itself as a private Christian initiative (see This policy document also goes on to state that the European Union contains no programs which are designed to strengthen civil society. Does this imply that internationalization does not strengthen civil society, or did I misread the text?

Here is a short list of some of the EU organizations promoting internationalization in education: The European Platform for Dutch Education ( in the Netherlands which claims it has a mandate to internationalize. Not surprisingly, it is in the Netherlands that census lists are compared to school lists to ensure compliance with compulsory schooling requirements. The European Platform in turn belongs to a “national agency” called Lifelong Learning Program (LLP) (formerly known as Socrates and Leonardo). According to the website this is also the “national support centre for the eTwinning programme” which is related to a program entitled “Europe as a learning environment in schools” (Elos). Other related organizations are the “Free program for catholic education…at a European level,” ( and The European Foundation for Freedom in Education, as well as BBO in the Netherlands. The website of BBO states that it is a private organization financed entirely through “commissions,” which “aims at impacting the whole process of policy making." An essential part of this strategy is the strengthening of the relations between civil society and the policy makers.” In addition, the European Council of National Associations of Independent Schools (ECNAIS) seeks to bring together independent schools of all faiths and confessions under its wing. Other organizations which would have on impact on education are, of course, the European Parliament and programs for creating “active European citizenship” such as “Europe for Citizens 2007-2013,” as well as the development of the European constitution.

What does the European Union’s constitution have to say about freedom of education? The European Union’s constitution promotes “freedom of education,” but it is a freedom of education that is given as a privilege by the EU government, and includes the privilege of receiving a “free compulsory education” and the privilege of founding private schools in accordance with national laws and policies. This would have to contrast with freedom as defined in the U.S. Constitution as an inalienable right, essentially a gift of God. Dr. Ron Paul mentions the importance of a constitution which specifically through the 10th amendment leaves all issues that aren’t the province of the federal government to be determined by individuals and states: "Amendment 10 - Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791.The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The European Constitution has not yet been ratified by European nations, but policy-makers are marching forward undeterred to submit a “Reformed” Constitution which would, according to the Wikipedia article I referenced, “superate” national laws, although technically not replacing them.
The word superate was new to me, so I looked it up in an online dictionary, but did not find it there. Further research showed me that the word derives from the Italian verb “superare” meaning to “overcome” and that it is sometimes in use in philosophy texts, for example, to mean “overcome” or “defeat.” The above-cited Socires article confirmed that even though the EU constitution has not yet been ratified by member states, it would still go into action as a kind of “soft law.” I also found the concept of a “soft law” unfamiliar.

In any case, the EU policy makers are to some extent succeeding in changing policy in Europe, and it is not clear to what extent national leaders are going along. In any case, some of the policies involve resistance to the rise of home and private education, and both lowering the age of compulsory school entrance, and sometimes raising the ages for leaving compulsory schooling. The Plan can be seen at work, for example, in Norway, where only 9 years of schooling had been required prior to 1997 (now it’s 10), and children started school at 7 (now at 6). In addition, the first year of Norwegian school is now to involve an integration of traditional play school with academic instruction, whereas previously it had been more of a traditional play-oriented kindergarden. Many rural and local schools in Norway have been closed, supposedly for economic reasons, forcing parents to send their children to centralized or urban schools farther from home (hence some of the interest in homeschooling, which has seen a 400% rise in Norway just in the last two years.)

We have seen developments like this in America as well, under Mike Huckabee’s 10-year governorship in Arkansas, for example, in which the compulsory school entrance age was lowered to age 6 and truancy laws were strengthened in such a way that more work was required to take one’s own child out of school. A number of states have considered legislation lowering school entrance age, and the prevailing long-term trends in elementary school and even pre-school education -- as promoted by various private initiatives calling themselves national organizations -- call for reduced play (in many cases minimal or no recess) and increasingly early work with letters and numbers, as well as, of course, general training in following orders.

The national laws themselves don’t seem to support these EU policies. Home education is still legal in nations throughout Europe. My research led me to a German homeschool information website updated in September of 2007 which documented laws pertaining to education in 16 countries. ( According to this information, homeschooling is not against the law in any of the 16 European countries under consideration, even in Germany. In a couple of cases, local authorities have jurisdiction, and in other cases the central government retains jurisdiction. Nevertheless, in no case, does the law actually forbid home education. In other words, the national laws go back to a recent time period in which home education was a private issue.

The fact that homeschooling is legal throughout Europe, while being stringently prohibited in places such as Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, suggests that European Union policy makers are working so fast it may not even be clear to anyone how much authority the local and national authorities have. In addition, local and national authorities haven’t even had a chance to develop a good game plan. A German spokesman’s much-publicized excuse for cracking down on a few harmless Baptist families is that the families by homeschooling threaten to constitute a “parallel society.” In view of the fact that 20% of Germany’s citizens are of non-German descent, a group including predominantly Turks and Poles, with 65% of the German population Christian and 4% practicing Islam, it’s hard to understand the concern with Christian parallel cultures unless a new “unity” is in the program.

Obviously, education is a crucial area within which a community, nation or union, develops attachment to its policies, programs and goals, and the EU policy makers have made their program clear. This program calls for internationalization under the wing of the EU, an emphasis on compulsory schooling, and a severe limitation of homeschooling. This appear to entail, as regards the child and the community, a reduced field for “play,” and increased emphasis on “early learning,” together with a weakening of family bonds, a weakening of national bonds, and a general weakening of civil society.

To what extent do European nations plan to go along with this program? Some commentators, such as former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, warn that the new co-operation of the European Union and European nations is a “shotgun marriage” (interview in The Brussels Journal, Mon. 2006-02-27 22:13). Is this the case? I don’t know the answer to this question, but I do think it’s useful to consider the European resistance to homeschooling, historically a harmless, private issue, in the context of European Union policy-making. This is a good explanation for why there is such interest in Ron Paul all over Europe – thanks to a new response to my last blog, you can see below some useful sources of information on the enthusiasm for Ron Paul in Europe, including the Strasbourg Tea Party!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Homeschoolers Worldwide - for Ron Paul?

Homeschooling and the right of individual families to raise their children according to their own lights is presupposed in the constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a right whose champion is Ron Paul. The following notes suggest that homeschooling is on the rise. These notes are intended also to point to the interconnectedness of the homeschool movement worldwide as well as to the importance of supporting Ron Paul, so he can in turn support the homeschool movement.

Homeschooling Worldwide – For Ron Paul?

Worldwide, homeschoolers should be supporting Ron Paul. Why should they? Well, because homeschoolers worldwide are basically facing the same issue, the issue of liberty.

Homeschooling is an international concern, even though my Microsoft Word spellcheck still won’t accept the word. Only 200 years ago, homeschooling was the norm throughout the western world, not to speak of the worlds beyond the “West.” Homeschooling in those days would be typically followed by apprenticeships or professional activity, or the continuation of productivity within the home.

Increasingly, government schools became an option. Today, the idea of government schooling has become associated with modernity and modernity with literacy and literacy with democracy. Government schooling is called “public education” in America, the underlying assumption being that this is education by the public and for the public, and that diversity consequently thrives under its wing. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The terms “government schooling” and “state-mandated compulsory schooling” are much more precise. Government schools are no longer an option: they are compulsory.

In addition, the connections between government schooling and democracy, literacy and modernity are tenuous, or even arbitrary. Both literacy and democracy can thrive and flourish without government schooling. Neither literacy nor democracy depends on schooling, and, going a bit further, I would say truthfully that government schooling, as it is presently organized, usually suppresses or even suffocates the seeds of democracy and the vital spirit that leads to active citizenship. The underlying goal of compulsory schooling is not to raise a citizen, but to eradicate the local, the ethnic, the national, the religious individual, to eliminate the bonding to family and community which underlies citizenship.

So what does all this have to do with Ron Paul? It has to do with the fact that homeschooling raises the fundamental issues that unite homeschooling families worldwide of any and all religions and persuasions: namely, the issue of liberty, the freedom to raise one’s own family according to one’s own lights, regardless of religious persuasion or cultural or ethnic background. It is impossible to erase the underlying reality that people are mammals; mammals raise their young in families and organize their affairs largely on the basis of deep and ineradicable intuitions, often with the aid of mothers; families, in turn, thrive in communities, and communities often find their strength in deities. This is true everywhere. The only question is how political, religious, or other self-appointed authorities can arrange to accommodate themselves to this fact.

In view of the tremendous amount of communication at work in our highly interconnected world, what generalizations can be made about homeschooling worldwide?

On the surface, it looks bad. German homeschooling families have recently been the object of special attention. Homeschoolers in Germany have been taken into custody or subjected to crippling fines, and some have lost of custody of their children. In August of 2006 a Baptist mother of 12 (!) was arrested for homeschooling, while her husband took the children and went to Austria., based on information from The Brussels Journal- In another recent case, fathers of several German Baptist homeschooling children were held in coercive detention, and pressure was brought to bear on them for years; ultimately, they were permitted to form a private school. A 15 yr. old homeschooler (Melissa Busekros) was taken into the custody of the JugendAmt (Youth Office) in February of this year, although she was ultimately released, no psychological damage having been found as a result of homeschooling. Belgium was in the news in 2006 for harassing a prominent Belgian journalist and his wife, a member of the Belgian Federal Parliament, for homeschooling their children. Outside of Europe, the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa has also been the focus of attention for its repudiation of homeschooling. In sum, public attention has been drawn to the fact that the freedom to homeschool one’s own children is threatened. There are governments in Europe, but elsewhere as well, who consider it their right and duty to impose compulsory school attendance on children.

Much publicity has been devoted to these cases, and the publicity has been fanned by the Home School Legal Defense Association, under the direction of Mike Farris, and the WorldNet Daily, under the direction of Joseph Farah. These two organizations, sometimes in tandem, issue frequent urgent reports regarding the repression of homeschoolers. (See, for example, WorldNet Daily’s report referring to “Police state. Germany” at WND has publicly condemned the harassment of homeschoolers with and without religious persuasion in Germany, for example.

While this type of publicity probably has benefits in terms of making people aware of specific instances of repression of homeschoolers, it appears to be much more confusing when it comes to providing guidance on what to do about it. The above-cited WND article opens by advising readers, for example, that “continuing legal challenges won’t work,” (according to an unidentified expert). Says who? Since when do “continuing legal challenges” of any kind not work? Whereas it is implied that Farris may be the expert who thinks legal challenges won’t work, he is later quoted as saying: "To win, a legislative solution is needed. And in order to convince a German legislative body to change the law in favor of homeschooling, public opinion in Germany will have to be changed." Mike Farris and the HSLDA provide a significant stream of advice on how, where, when and why to pose political or legal challenges to repression of homeschoolers and/or when to back down and hold off with the letter-writing, and when to just “pray” for a government to change its mind. Meanwhile, Mike Farris publicly condemns the United Nations Rights of the Child Convention, which he claims poses a threat to the rights of parents to homeschool their children. However, the United Nations also publicly condemns Germany for its repression of homeschoolers.

The result is that if homeschoolers look to the HSLDA or the WorldNet Daily or even the United Nations for their political marching orders, they will be in a more or less constant state of confusion. The case of H.R. 6, in which Mike Farris stirred up large numbers of homeschoolers to a campaign of political action regarding an issue that ultimately would not have affected them, resulting in over-reaction, is a case in point.

An additional problem with the above-cited ongoing publicity is that it could lead one to suppose that, as suggested above: “continuing legal challenges won’t work.” Underlying this supposition is the idea that repression is growing, unfortunate as we may feel it is, but that realities are realities, and we in the United States may end up having to be glad with what we have, even if it means increasing legal restrictions on homeschooling in the United States. In other words, whoever you want to believe, and whoever you want to take your marching orders from, the ongoing publicity on the part of WND and the HSLDA suggests that homeschoolers face a dim future.

Some careful research shows us a different picture. First of all, some of the repression, in Germany and elsewhere, as well as some of the increasing anti-homeschooling legislation in the U.S., are actually due in part to the simple fact that homeschooling is on the rise:

1. more and more parents want to homeschool;

2. more and more parents worldwide are homeschooling and are availing themselves of a multiplicity of homeschooling organizations to support them;

3. more and more publicity is appearing about the benefits of homeschooling, the possibilities of homeschooling, and the disadvantages of compulsory state education;

4. more and more legislative action is being successfully undertaken throughout the world to support the needs of homeschoolers; and finally,

5. a number of significant cases of repression are due to the fact that parents, empowered by the publicity and the international connectedness offered by e-mail and blogging (not to speak of text-messaging) have simply decided not to knuckle under any more, but rather to go public with their situations: the Neubronners have been quoted as saying that they have decided not to pay the exorbitant fine, not only because it is exorbitant, but also as a challenge to the very idea that they should be fined at all.

In other words, one significant cause of the recent repression is exactly the fact that homeschooling is on the rise. Parents worldwide no longer trust compulsory state-mandated schooling. By way of a few examples, in 2004, the Shanghai Star published an article pointing to the rise of interest in home schooling and the existence of a Shanghai homeschooling organization. Meanwhile, according to reports in a homeschool blog ( earlier this year (2007), the Czech ministry is now allowing 6th to 9th grade students to homeschool. In Alabama, legislation has been considered to enable homeschooled students to take part in public school activities, which would pave the way for an a la carte approach to schooling, as well as allow for mutual influence of public schooling and home schooling. In Nevada, for one example, and in Scotland, legislation has been considered that would make it easier to homeschool. These are just a few among many examples.

I would summarize my thoughts about Ron Paul and worldwide homeschooling as follows:

· homeschooling is on the rise, not on the wane;

· legal challenges may or may not work, but they may be valid and necessary approaches;

· to decide whether or not to undertake a particular legal challenge, one should depend on one’s own research, and one should not allow oneself to be overly influenced, panicked or driven by any particular call to action;

· the issue in the resistance to compulsory schooling is liberty -- freedom from government intervention is Ron Paul’s platform -- so work, donate, and vote for Ron Paul!

November 21, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Who is Mike Huckabee?

The Wall Street Journal's Opinion section just released this piece on Huckabe:
There are quite a few quotes from various people that will be difficult to brush aside. For example:

Betsy Hagan, Arkansas director of the conservative Eagle Forum and a key backer of his early runs for office, was once "his No. 1 fan." She was bitterly disappointed with his record. "He was pro-life and pro-gun, but otherwise a liberal," she says. "Just like Bill Clinton he will charm you, but don't be surprised if he takes a completely different turn in office."

Phyllis Schlafly, president of the national Eagle Forum, is even more blunt. "He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party a shambles," she says. "Yet some of the same evangelicals who sold us on George W. Bush as a 'compassionate conservative' are now trying to sell us on Mike Huckabee."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ron Paul Talks to NH Homeschoolers

On Sep 30, 2007, Ron Paul talked to a group of homeschooling parents in New Hampshire. The fact that he would make an effort to talk to homeschoolers on his busy day and a half trip is a testament to his commitment to homeschooling. In fact he emphasizes that homeschoolers are a key ally of his since homeschoolers understand the Constitution, and value freedom.

Part 2 - Constitution, last few seconds start discussing homeschooling
Part 3 - Discusses homeschooling
Part 4 - Abortion/Federal Reserve
Part 5 - Non-interventionist Foreign Policy, Christian Just War theory, Free Markets
Part 6 - Questions begin, National Banks/Federal Reserve, North American Union, Out of Iraq?
Part 7 - Handicapped, Role of Government, 1984, What could he get done as President, Gay Marriage, Regulate Pornography on internet?
Part 8 - Militarization of Police, Draft?, Militia
Part 9 - World Government, End of Life Issues

Monday, October 1, 2007

Congressional Control of Health Care is Dangerous for Children

From Dr. Paul on 1 Oct, 2007:

This week Congress is again grasping for more control over the health of American children with the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Parents who think federally subsidized health care might be a good idea should be careful what they wish for.

Despite political rhetoric about a War on Drugs, federally-funded programs result in far more teenage drug use than the most successful pill pusher on the playground. These pills are given out as a result of dubious universal mental health screening programs for school children, supposedly directed toward finding mental disorders or suicidal tendencies. The use of antipsychotic medication in children has increased fivefold between 1995 and 2002. More than 2.5 million children are now taking these medications, and many children are taking multiple drugs at one time.

With universal mental health screening being implemented in schools, pharmaceutical companies stand to increase their customer base even more, and many parents are rightfully concerned. Opponents of one such program called TeenScreen, claim it wrongly diagnoses children as much as 84% of the time, often incorrectly labeling them, resulting in the assigning of medications that can be very damaging. While we are still awaiting evidence that there are benefits to mental health screening programs, evidence that these drugs actually cause violent psychotic episodes is mounting.

Many parents have very valid concerns about the drugs to which a child labeled as “suicidal” or “depressed,” or even ADHD, could be subjected. Of further concern is the subjectivity of diagnosis of mental health disorders. The symptoms of ADHD are strikingly similar to indications that a child is gifted, and bored in an unchallenging classroom. In fact, these programs, and many of the syndromes they attempt to screen for, are highly questionable. Parents are wise to question them.

As it stands now, parental consent is required for these screening programs, but in some cases mere passive consent is legal. Passive consent is obtained when a parent receives a consent form and fails to object to the screening. In other words, failure to reply is considered affirmative consent. In fact, TeenScreen advocates incorporating their program into the curriculum as a way to by-pass any consent requirement. These universal, or mandatory, screening programs being called for by TeenScreen and the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health should be resisted.

Consent must be express, written, voluntary and informed. Programs that refuse to give parents this amount of respect, should not receive federal funding. Moreover, parents should not be pressured into screening or drugging their children with the threat that not doing so constitutes child abuse or neglect. My bill, The Parental Consent Act of 2007 is aimed at stopping federal funding of these programs.

We don’t need a village, a bureaucrat, or the pharmaceutical industry raising our children. That’s what parents need to be doing.

Friday, September 21, 2007

HSLDA endorses Huckabee: why not Ron Paul?

Since Mike Huckabee was recently endorsed by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) there has been some discussion about why it didn’t endorse Ron Paul. Why would HSLDA endorse Mike Huckabee? The question is: if you wanted to safeguard your right to homeschool, who would you vote for – Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul? The following is a summary of some explanations for this endorsement as suggested by members of a Homeschoolers for Ron Paul meetup group, together with some thoughts of my own, and an attempt to answer this question.

Among the suggestions made by the meetup group were as follows. It was suggested that the Home School Legal Defense Association believes Mike Huckabee, as previous Governor of Arkansas, would have a better chance of being elected, than Ron Paul, and that HSLDA, which has defined itself as a Christian organization, would support Mike Huckabee as a Christian pastor. It was also suggested that neither Huckabee nor the HSLDA share Ron Paul’s idea of liberty, in spite of the fact that they use the word.

My research suggests, first of all, that Huckabee is not as strong a supporter of homeschooling as his campaign might suggest. It is true that he demonstrated his support for homeschooling in 1997 when he signed into law a House bill favoring homeschooling. Huckabee saw to it that a good deal of publicity surrounded this event. Prior to the 1997 legislation, home schooled students had been required to receive a passing grade on annual tests. Currently students are only required to take standardized tests along a schedule similar to that of the public schools, and they are not required to pass the tests. In addition parents are not asked to pay for the testing. In other words, the 1997 law provided relief for home schooling families, but didn’t represent a dramatic change.

However, this reform occurred only at the beginning of his governorship (1997-2007) and Arkansas laws pertaining to homeschooling were already very restrictive. In the following ten years no additional relief was provided to home schooling families, and in fact, more restrictions followed. A home schooling family who didn’t want to have their child tested could still be charged with truancy. In 1999, additional legislation was enacted in Arkansas and signed by Governor Huckabee that imposed greater rather than less restrictions on home schoolers. The restrictions could potentially cause problems for students whose families are undecided. The 1999 legislation called for a two-week advance statement of intent to home school or truancy charges would be filed. In addition the restrictions do not permit students to be withdrawn from school for the purpose of home schooling if the students are facing disciplinary violations. The compulsory attendance law was also revised during Huckabee’s governorship to require that attendance in school be required beginning at age 5, not 6, as previously. In an article entitled “Homeschoolers Lose Ground” of July 20, 2007, HSLDA itself stated its vigorous opposition to this legislation. In other words, Huckabee’s avowed support for homeschooling must be seriously questioned.

If Huckabee’s agenda doesn’t seem to be as forcefully pro-homeschooling as it looks at first, the HSLDA’s agenda and political activities are not entirely focused on home schooling issues either. HSLDA states that it is an explicitly Christian organization with a strong political orientation and interest in promoting certain candidates. The Patrick Henry School and Generation Joshua are involved in political activity. The HSLDA claims it is “organized as a 501 c 4,” which means that it is exempt from the rule that 501 c 3 non-profits are expressly forbidden to actively support political causes, and implies that it doesn’t have legal status as a non-profit anyway.

For example, currently the student teams associated with HSLDA's PAC, are organizing support for the candidacy of Bobby Jindal for Governor of Louisiana. Who is Bobby Jindal? Jindal is described as a social conservative, and his bio indicates that he converted from Hinduism to Catholicism while in college. Jindal has been given low ratings by environmentalists and, according to Wikipedia (September 19, 2007): "Jindal is an enthusiastic supporter of the war in Iraq." Since Jindal is not known to have any particular interest in home schooling, the Home School Legal Defense Fund appears to be focusing its attention on a candidate who has nothing to do with home school legal defense!

The above notes point to the fact that the agenda of both Huckabee and the HSDLA doesn’t manifest a strong orientation to the rights of home schoolers in general.

Does their agenda reflect a strong orientation to the freedom of the individual? Is freedom from government regulation really an underlying goal for Huckabee or for the HSLDA’s leadership?

Ned Ryun, Generation Joshua’s director and director of HSLDA’s federal political action committee thinks not. On his blog he recently wrote (September 19, 2007) that Mike Huckabee has a poor social and fiscal record, and in particular mentioned that he has recently introduced legislation to ban smoking in public places. Ned Ryun commented as follows: “In a free market/capitalistic society, and by the way, a free society, the government should not be regulating when and where people smoke.” I have recently received a report that Ned Ryun quit the directorship of Generation Joshua due to the HSLDA’s endorsement of Huckabee.

Another way to consider the question of whether Huckabee and the HSLDA are seriously interested in safeguarding individual freedoms would be to look at their analysis of other questions. It seems that both HSLDA and Huckabee would be willing to use the law in the service of a moral principle or moral truth as they saw this truth. Huckabee and HSLDA would consider legislation in the service of morality, possibly undermining the separation of church and state. Ron Paul, on the other hand, would insist that we are “endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.”

In addition, the view of homeschooling described under descriptions of Generation Joshua on the HSLDA website strongly suggests a purposive orientation for homeschooling on the part of this organization: “However, few of us homeschool just for the sake of homeschooling. We homeschool our children because we believe it is the best path for their own future and for the impact that they can have on our nation and the generations that follow. Yes, we want our children to have excellent skills and godly character. But skills and character are designed to equip our children to accomplish great things for God and for the good of our nation.” In other words, according to the HSLDA homeschooling is not primarily a freedom, a right, with inherent value in itself as such. For HSLDA, homeschooling is mainly a value insofar as it is promotes a pre-defined and established good or truth. From a constitutionalist viewpoint, homeschooling is a value insofar as the right to school one’s children as one sees fit is entailed in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For the HSLDA there is a good greater than liberty –one truth, morals as they interpret morals; for Ron Paul, homeschooling is entailed in liberty.

My research can be summarized in the following way:

  1. Neither Huckabee nor the HSLDA are strongly motivated to focus on the agenda of homeschoolers, although the endorsement is designed to advertise their concern with homeschoolers;
  2. HSLDA and Huckabee would legislate to promote an agenda in spite of its impact on individual freedom, whereas Ron Paul would argue against the use of government restrictions to promote an agenda, regardless of how moral he considered the agenda to be;
  3. The fact that homeschooling is considered a means to an end differs from the viewpoint that the right to home schooling, as other freedoms, is an end in itself; thus Ron Paul would protect the right to home school as a matter of principle; Huckabee and the HSLDA would protect their agenda first, quite possibly letting the principle of individual rights suffer;
  4. Ron Paul has consistently proposed legislation which would give greater autonomy to home schoolers.

These points suggest that if you want to be homeschooling years from now and doing it your way, your best bet is to vote for Ron Paul (and not Mike Huckabee).

For those of you would like to do more research, please see the following:

UPDATE: One comment pointed out that they didn't see an endorsement of Huckabee on HSLDA's web site. This is because the website is part of the HSLDA which is non-profit and can't endorse candidates. But HSLDA has a PAC, which can, and you can see the endorsement here:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Family and Ron Paul

I got the chance to meet Dr Paul when he came to my town of Strafford, NH for the Strafford County GOP picnic. He took the time to shake every single hand of the 208 people who voted for him in the straw poll (winning 72% of the votes). My family has homeschooled since the first grade, and have come to realize how important educational freedom is. Dr Paul understands this as well, and has been outspoken in defense of the right to homeschool.

Paul Praises Homeschoolers

From September 27th, 2000
Sponsors Resolution Designating National Home Schooling Week
Washington, D.C.

Representative Ron Paul praised America's home-schoolers this week, acknowledging parents for their sacrifices and achievements in educating their children at home. Paul co-sponsored H.Res. 578, legislation presented on the House floor this week that would designate the first week of October as "National Home Schooling Week." Paul, in a written statement included in the Congressional Record, told his Congressional colleagues that they should recognize the efforts of home-schooling parents, and strive to help them provide a quality education for their children.

"As a Congressman, I have had the opportunity to get to know many of the home-schooling families in my district," Paul stated. "I am very impressed by the outstanding job these parents are doing. Home schooling has produced outstanding results in my district and across the country. For example, a 1997 study indicated the average home-school student scores near the 90th percentile nationally on standardized academic achievement tests in reading, mathematics, social studies, and science! Home schoolers, regardless of race or gender, also consistently score above the national average on both the SAT and ACT exams."

Home schooling has become a popular option for parents across the country. Texas alone has approximately 75,000 home-schooling families, with an average of three children per household. Home-schooling parents have formed numerous organizations to provide their children ample opportunities to interact with other children. Recent data indicate that almost 50% of home-schooled children engage in extracurricular activities like sports and music, while many others are involved in volunteer work in their communities.

"Home-schooling requires tremendous dedication to family and education," Paul continued. "Congress should allow home-schoolers and all parents to devote more of their resources to their children's education. I introduced the 'Family Education Freedom Act' ( H.R. 935) with the goal of allowing education dollars to be spent and controlled locally by parents."

The Act provides all parents, including home-schoolers, with a $3,000 per child tax credit for K-12 educational expenses. Parents choosing to send their children to the local public school may use their credit dollars to help buy educational tools or fund extracurricular programs for the school, while parents with children in private schools may use the credit for tuition.

"The best way to improve education is to return control to the parents who know best what their children need," Paul concluded. "Congress should empower all parents, including home-schoolers, to control their children's education. I urge all of my colleagues to support the 'Family Education Freedom Act.'"