In the 1980s home schooling was still a concept with which most people were unfamiliar and with which many elected officials were not comfortable. In fact, I often quote former Texas Attorney General Jim Maddox, who said that he did not believe parents were qualified to raise their children, much less teach them at home. In that environment, home schoolers were very happy with an elected official who simply said he supported the right of a parent to home school.
That was then, and this is now. Almost any elected official or candidate for office today will say that they “support home schooling.” Unfortunately, what that often translates to is not a supportive position on the home school political, legislative, or legal agenda. In fact, that phrase is often used just before the official tells us he opposes the parental rights or home school position.
I have been corresponding recently with the chief of police for the city of Euless regarding an incident in which Euless police officers stopped some home school children who were walking to their grandparents’ home. These officers took the children into custody, took them back to their home, went inside to examine the home, asked to see their curriculum, and told their adult brother they were going to call CPS to report them. This was all done under the Daytime Curfew Ordinance of the city.
In his first response to my letter asking him to investigate this situation, the chief began his letter by telling me he supported home schooling and that his wife taught classes at a home school co-op. He went on to tell me that there must be something else to the story and he declined to investigate. I guess he thinks that because he purportedly supports home schooling we should accept his lack of action regarding the egregious actions of his officers, which violated the policies and procedures of the city and police department.
During the recent Texas legislative regular session Republican Senator Kel Seliger from Amarillo opposed SB 929, which would allow home schoolers to participate in extracurricular activities in public schools. He did everything he could do to oppose the bill and would give no reason for his opposition. In a newspaper article, however, he said that he supported home schooling but that if home schoolers wanted to participate in UIL activities, they should attend a UIL school. Of course, he does not seem to have a problem with the two affluent Texas private schools that UIL has allowed to participate for the last decade. Seliger was one of only two Republican senators to vote against the bill.
While we are talking about legislators, State Representative Jimmie Don Aycock, chairman of the House Public Education Committee, told me he loved home schoolers, was supportive of us, and would be open to giving us a hearing on the Tim Tebow bills if we would make certain changes. However, in the end he told me he would not allow the bill a vote and only relented after the speaker of the House asked him to do so. Since two of the bill’s supporters were absent, the bill died. So, in spite of Chairman Aycock’s assurances that he supports home schooling, he killed one of its key pieces of legislation, but when it looked like it might pass, he wanted credit for making it happen. With these kinds of friends, who needs enemies?
Many of these elected officials are very “supportive of home schooling” while they are running for office, seeking the votes and support of the Texas home school community, but their real colors often come out after the election. A district judge in Houston, who was elected with the help of home schoolers, recently ruled in a divorce case that the mom would get custody of the children but that the father, who for many years had supported home schooling and was now arguing that it was not in the best interest of the children, would be allowed to make the educational decisions for the family. Test scores for the children showed them all doing very well academically, but the judge ruled that the unfaithful father will be allowed to make the educational decision for the children, which is tantamount to ruling against home schooling. This same judge made a ruling in another case in her court that was obviously wrong and was overturned on appeal. However, she issued a “gag order” to prevent anyone involved in the case from talking about it publicly. Sounds like a judge trying to protect herself from the consequences of her rulings in an upcoming election next year.
As we stated in our video summary of the 2013 legislative session, we had wins and losses in the legislative session this year, but it’s over now. That is clearly evidenced by the calls we are getting from candidates for legislative and statewide office seeking the support of THSC in their campaigns for election or reelection. So, while the 83rd regular legislative session is over, the campaigns for next year’s elections have begun. We will have an opportunity not only to educate candidates on parental rights and home school issues, but we may also have an opportunity to oppose the election or reelection of some officials who give mere lip service to the support of home schooling and parental rights. The battle for freedom is never over. As we say in Texas, “Talk is cheap!”