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:


Dar said...

Thank you for your research. I will be supporting Ron Paul.

Perhaps HSLDA supports Huckabee simply because he is "safe" for Generation Joshua youth projects.

(And I joke that the name "Mike" might be a factor.)

For me, I'd rather my children and grandchildren see me stand for what is right, not for what is safe.

Carrie Sandblom said...

Excellent article Robin, Ron Paul is the clear choice for homeschoolers!

Carrie Sandblom said...

One more comment- you mention a homeschoolers for Ron Paul meetup this in NH by any chance? I'd love to connect with other NH homeschoolers.

Jim said...

The meetup group is national and relatively small in numbers. But there are plenty of RP homeschoolers in NH - I am one.
is a good email list be on in general for homeschooling in NH.

Colin Shannon said...

Hey, great article. I did a little googling and found that HSLDA campaigns against same-sex marriage (see: Google: "same-sex marriage"). It's hard to see what that has to do with homeschooling.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog doing a Google search and commented on your most recent post but had intended to comment here. As you said in this post: "for Ron Paul, homeschooling is entailed in liberty" -- for me it *IS* a right, a freedom, it begins there. I am supporting Ron Paul.

Thank you for this information and your blog.

Anonymous said...

Mike Farris sent out a "personal" letter pushing hard for Huckabee, requesting donations (use Farris's DONOR CODE so Farris will know which of his friends gave $ to Huckabee). Ron Paul was not mentioned once in the letter. And Farris says only a governor or a vice president can win (he's looking at the record since 1960, he says). He's obviously discouraged by the support given to Thompson by NRL and to Giuliani by Robertson.

Let's educate Farris!! Send him letters! And spell Giuliani right--Farris did not.

Rebecca said...

Since we have a special needs child, I went ahead and joined hslda after many years of never being a member. I am an 11year vet of hs'ing with kids on both ends of the spectrum. I received the email endorsement from Farris trying to get donations and blew it off. I get a little suspicious of any group endorsing a candidate, then expecting us to blindly follow along. Hs'ing endorses thinking for one's self, but in this case they would rather you not do so.

David said...

Thank you for your research I would like to make a recommendation that you add a link to the meetup group in your sidebar. but for those who have asked here it is.

Jim said...

Sidebar added.

crunchymama said...


I am a homeschooling mother of 5, I was homeschooled myself, and I am a fervent supporter of Ron Paul. We are also christians, sporadically attending an open and affirming UCC church.

Your article is a well written and informative one on why Huckabee is not supportive of homeschooling, as well as a stinging indictment of HSLDAs behind the scenes conservative christian bias against alternative families.

Perhaps a follow up article, "HSLDA board president uses mailing list to send political spam?"

However, when I went to HSLDA's website I could find no mention of their endorsing a particular candidate.

I did find that they had interviewed Mick Huckabee and that they stated that they had extended the invitation for an interview to all presidential candidates.

From the other comments, it seems that Mike Farris, lawyer, cofounder of HSLDA, and also the current board chairman of HSLDA, sent an email requesting support for Huckabee.

Whether Farris sent this as a letter to all those on the HSLDA mailing list, and in any official capacity, or from his personal contact list remains to be seen. I don't know, I didn't get the letter.

A link to your well written article has been bumped onto Lew Rockwell, here is the URL:

We do not need inaccurate reporting on such a popular Ron Paul site, no matter how well written! If HSLDA has not in fact issued an official endorsement for Huckabee, please redact your excellent article to reflect that truth.

Alison Murphy

Jim said...

crunchymama - I added up update to the bottom of the article with a link to the endorsement.

crunchymama said...

Thank you Jim!! I obviously failed to apply google-fu. Oh for the unsend button! Great article Robin! Ron Paul for President!

Bear Man said...

Good reading on the topic:

Obviously HSLDA is not our friend in all respects.

David Jesse said...

Roll the clock back 28 years to 1980 when there was a REAL choice in candidates with President Reagan or back another 16 years when there was a dramatic choice between Barry Goldwater and LBJ. Since then, the GOP has given us either lukewarm "semi-conservatives" or disguised liberals, those who would simply take us on a slower trip into socialism than the radical Democrats whom they faced. It has been a sorry charade, a choice between two evils and certainly nothing to raise any enthusiasm in this old fella…

CHANGE ALL OF THAT, friends…This year there is a choice-rather than an echo-with a man combining the best beliefs of a Reagan and the toughness of a Goldwater. Quite frankly, the Republican establishment would like for you not to hear about him, though he has spent 20 years as a Republican congressman from Texas. Fox News excluded him from their TV debates, a man who embarrassed the very dickens out of the GOP "moderates" and liberals in the other debates in which he participated! What is more, this man is the first "constitutionalist" to run for the office in decades, a man who says that if that old contract of government, the Constitution, does not provide for a proposed law, then we are not to do it, at least without changing that Constitution. In other words, we would have government by forethought rather than by media propaganda and manipulation! Wouldn’t that be great???

We indeed have a great one this time, and his name is (Dr.) Ron Paul, a physician and ten term Congressman from Lake Jackson, Texas, a man who has delivered some 4,000 babies and has stood with his finger in the dike in Washington for a long, long time. He is a statesman rather than a "politician." The typical Washington arm twisting and the hordes of lobbyists simply do not move him, friends. This is a man of principle, and he is very, very smart! …

I had the joy of taking Ron to dinner at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee in 1986 and then had the further privilege of introducing him for his fine talk on economics that evening. In recent years, he has been more than a "match" for Fed chairman Alan Greenspan when that "guru" has appeared before Ron’s congressional committee. We are looking at a very well qualified fellow here. In order for you to know why I so enthusiastically endorse him, despite NOT being either very "political," per se, and certainly not a mere Republican loyalist, I would suggest that you click on a couple of the links below. You will convince yourself.

Ron Paul on the Issues

Ron Paul and the New York TImes

If on the other hand, you would simply like to see some quick reasons for my advocacy of Ron Paul as our President, here are my thoughts:

1. We ARE losing our country, and the hour is indeed late. We are rotting from within, and our people are operating in political ground fog. A wake-up call has long been needed.

2. Since I don’t delude myself with wishful thinking, I know that "we," the people who wish to see this tragic trend reversed are NOT likely to win this election, but we CAN—and must—win the campaign! There is a big difference!. An election is like hanging out a thermometer; it merely measures the existing conditions! Our job is to reach and teach millions of newly awakening people by simply using Ron’s campaign, his great material and websites, his talks and our influence—and to change those conditions!

In four years, a younger, more "charismatic," more contemporary man or woman, one sharing Ron’s exact principles and as totally committed as he is, CAN win that election. He or she will be starting from a much higher base, and with Ron’s unqualified endorsement, can win! Our nation’s problems will not be solved in 90 days of partisan political frenzy…

3. Moreover, that horrible Hillary will have frightened and educated millions more Americans, the hard way, but perhaps the ONLY way! Don’t despair about that virtual certainty, friends, because our goal is not to react emotionally but rather effectively! America unfortunately needs a "shock treatment" to come to its senses and is about to get one! A liberal Republican, on the other hand, will proceed for several years virtually without opposition (We don’t have another 4-8 years to waste!), whereas Hillary the Horrible, will stir up a bee’s nest of frenzied opposition! I studied her thoroughly and did numerous radio interviews on her radical programs back in the 90’s and can tell you that she positively WILL generate powerful opposition!! She is one totally radical operative, a thoroughgoing unAmerican!

4. Ron Paul, on the other hand, is a man of principle. His positions will stand the test of time and will look even better in four years than they do today…He is not merely a "crowd chaser" like most of the others, who pretend to be leaders while all of the time trying to discover what the people want to hear. (Isn’t this why our Founding Fathers wanted us to have a constitution and a republic rather than mob rule or government-by-impulse?

5. Ron Paul, brainy and principled—and virtually unknown until three months ago, is going to STAY around to comment upon every deviant step of the next President, you may be certain, and we desperately need that!

6. Paul supporters are passionate, love our country, and are-politically speaking-the kind of people around whom a new form of political action will grow. Greta van Susteren, the late night TV interview pundit, said the other night that she gets tons of e-mails from "Paulites" but none from backers of the other candidates. Does that say something to you? It was clear that she thought that it was quite significant…

In short, I think that it is time to trust our ideals, our values rather than to run after the pied pipers of pragmatism once again and buy into that old, self-defeating trap of voting for the lesser of two evils. One doesn’t need a $300 compass to determine that the lesser of two evils is still evil…

Comment by John Selck Posted by