Historically, home schooling has been the primary means of education for children all over the world. However, as public schools have expanded in the West, parents have increasingly sought education for their children in a public setting. This expansion, naturally, has caused some clash with home schooling rights as evidenced throughout the 1990s in Texas, when the government prosecuted numerous parents simply because they were exercising their liberty in deciding how to best educate their children and care for their families. Home schooling hit a legal snag at that point, but has since had a resurgence. Following the 1994 Leeper decision that finally recognized home schooling as legal in Texas, home schooling has grown: there are currently over 320,000 home school families in the state, and that number is growing rapidly.
In June, Governor Abbott appointed Donna Bahorich, a former member of the State Board of Education (SBOE), to the position of SBOE Chair. This has drawn some criticism from the public school lobby and those connected to it because Donna is a former home school mother. However, THSC and many in the home school community rightly recognize this appointment as a broader recognition of the need for legal respect and policy consideration to extend to the ever growing school choice movement–a movement that not only includes home schoolers, but parents who choose to educate their children through other non-public school venues like private or charter schools.
The State Board of Education “sets policies and standards for Texas public schools,” according to the board’s website; and while some may criticize Bahorich for her educational background, those dissents simply demonstrate the need for increased diversity of educational ideas in the public school arena–and, perhaps more significantly, the lack of such diversity currently. Being open minded about policies and being willing to embrace some of the benefits of alternative forms of education are important steps that Texas can take to improve its public school system. Texas currently outspends many other states in terms of education, but fails to achieve the same level of performance of many other states, and one of Bahorich’s first priorities will be to work on reducing the costs of that education.
The appointment of Donna Bahorich, a former home school mom and an experienced educator, to the Chair of the State Board of Education is yet another action on the part of Governor Abbott’s administration that demonstrates his willingness to protect the interests of a rapidly growing group of Texas citizens. Previously, the Governor worked with THSC on several bills, and in vetoing Senate Bill 359, which could have seriously jeopardized parental rights for many Texans. The growth of home schooling has clearly reached such a height that high-level government officials are increasingly seeing the need to extend a welcoming hand to the home school community, and the Texas Home School Coalition is proud to be at the forefront of that growth, working continually to Keep Texas Families Free.
Do you want to join the Coalition in this ongoing fight for progress? THSC is both a membership organization and a non-profit that welcomes your membership and support. Consider joining or supporting Keeping Texas Families Free today.