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
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
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
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:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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: