Monday, December 17, 2007

Huckabee and Homeschoolers

With the Presidential primaries coming up, I've received many emails asking what I think about Mike Huckabee. This post (cross posted at The Old Schoolhouse blog) is my attempt to answer that question.

With Mike Huckabee surging in the polls many are asking the obvious question, "What caused his rapid rise?"

ABC News examined the reasons and came up with at least one obvious reason, homeschoolers.

Home-schoolers Help Propel Huckabee

"'They stand for the same things, and they trust each other,' said Christine Hurley, a Pleasant Hill Republican active in the state's home-school network."

"'I think that's what's happening with the Huckabee thing,' said Hurley, who supports Huckabee. 'When you understand he's a Baptist minister, you don't have to ask what he stands for.'"

Is being a Baptists minister a reason NOT to question what a candidate for President stands for? I think not. So I'll ask the question Hurley decided not to ask...

Do homeschoolers stand for the same thing as Mike Huckabee?

There is no doubt in my mind that on abortion and marriage, Huckabee is rock solid in agreement with most Christian homeschoolers.

He values life and has defended our belief that marriage is between a man and woman. But what about another issue that is very important to homeschoolers--education?

Let's take a look at Huckabee's record and his policies.

Huckabee's Homeschooling Record in Arkansas

Mike Huckabee was elected Governor of Arkansas in 1996. In 1997, he helped ease restrictive homeschool laws in Arkansas. While governor, Huckabee also appointed the first homeschooler to the Arkansas state school board. As a homeschooler, I give Mike Huckabee credit for these achievement. It looked like he was off to a great start in Arkansas. That success, however, was short lived. Just two years later, in 1999, Mike Huckabee signed into law House Bill 1724 that undid many of those initial gains.

Here’s how the Homeschool Legal Defense Asssociation (HSLDA), Court Report tells it,
Home Schoolers Lose Ground with New Law
"The enactment of House Bill 1724 on April 5, 1999, gives Arkansas the unique distinction of becoming the first state in the nation to add restrictions to its existing home school law."
At a time when many states were easing requirements, Arkansas was sadly moving in the wrong direction. Huckabee signed HB 1724, known as Act 1117 that made homeschooling MORE restrictive. HSLDA’s website provides an overview of the new restrictions here and comments:
"Arkansas is now one of only 12 states to impose a deadline for beginning home schooling or requiring parents to provide advance notice to public school officials of their decision to do so. Because of this restriction, parents who encounter intolerable conditions at the public school, such as imminent danger to the safety or welfare of their child, will have to wait at least 14 days before withdrawing the child to begin home schooling or else face truancy charges for unexcused absences during the 14-day waiting period. No such restriction exists for parents who decide to immediately remove their children to attend a private or parochial school in Arkansas. This raises serious issues regarding the right of parents to direct the education of their children and equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution."
HB 1724 was introduced because Democrats in the legislature threatened to impose even more restrictive measures. HB 1724 was a compromise measure introduced by a homeschooling father to keep that from happening.

HSLDA opposed the compromise, "Home School Legal Defense Association opposes any effort to increase state regulation of home education and did not support H.B. 1724."

Despite HSLDA’s opposition, the bill was passed by the legislature. That left it up to Governor Huckabee to defend the rights of homeschool parents in Arkansas. But he didn't.

Huckabee and his supporters claim that signing the bill was his only option. But is that really true? No. He could have stood on principle and used his veto powers and challenged the legislature to override the veto. Or at the very least, he could have let the measure pass without his signature signaling his opposition to the state restricting the rights of homeschool parents. He did neither. Instead, he signed the law that added restrictions to homeschooling in Arkansas.

Huckabee’s signature demonstrates that he is not opposed to compromising our freedom to homeschool in the face of Democrat pressure. Do we want a President who will so easily surrender his principles in the face of sure opposition by Democrats in Congress?

As a homeschooler, I want a President that is not afraid to fight against and veto any legislation that would compromise our ability to homeschool no matter who introduces it. Our children do not belong to the state and no parent should have to wait 14 days before pulling their child out of a government school.

Despite Huckabee’s record on homeschooling as a Governor of Arkansas, HSLDA-PAC has endorsed Mike Huckabee for President. But when you consider that he also gained the endorsement of the liberal education group, NEA – New Hampshire, it makes you scratch your head in bewilderment. How did Huckabee manage to convince Christian homeschoolers he’s "one of us” and convince the liberal NEA he’s “one of them" too? He’s pulling a fast one on someone, do homeschoolers want to wait until Huckabee is in the White House to find out which one? Not me.

Huckabee has said, "Education has to stop being a [horizontal] issue - left and right, liberal and conservative. Education must be a vertical issue - it will either move our country up or take us down."

Huckabee's statement of unity seems a bit naïve. Most Christian homeschoolers believe education is not a "vertical" or neutral issue. We understand there are politicians and reformers whose faith rests in the power of the state and who are actively attempting to move this country away from the principles of our founding and toward socialism and a planned economy; where our children are viewed simply as workers to compete in the global economy. The NEA routinely opposes parent directed home education. The 2007 - 2008 NEA Resolutions makes this abundantly clear,
"The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state
curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. 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." "

It seems as though the only one who wants to compromise and make education a "vertical" issue is Mike Huckabee.

It's been exactly one year since I retired my blog and I don't plan on returning long term, but I will be posting my thoughts regarding Mike Huckabee and homeschoolers. This is the first post in that series.

UPDATE II: I have begun calling Huckabee's homeschool revisions while governor the "Huckabee Homeschool Hustle" because he has somehow convinced homeschoolers in Arkansas that increasing regulation on homeschooling was their only option; even over the objections of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. That's a pretty good hustle, when you can convince homeschoolers that you know better than the organization whose purpose is to defend them!

UPDATE I (editted):

My previous posts on Huckabee and homeschooling
Part One. The Huckabee Homeschool Hustle
Part Two. Huckabee and state reform
Part Three. Huckabee and federal policy
Part Four. Huckabee and global citizenship
Huckabee responds
Ned Ryun's statement on homeschooling.
Ned Ryun's statement on HSLDA.

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