Thursday, January 17, 2008

Freedom or Compromise

Homeschooler's support of Huckabee is weakening as voters find out how he compromised in Arkansas. I received another email today,

First of all, I want to thank you for the information regarding Mike Huckabee. I had just about decided to vote for him, when someone on a homeschool mailing list I belong to posted the URL to your blog. What a revelation!
I didn't set out to necessarily change votes when I wrote my posts, I wanted to inform others about what I had discovered and and learn more myself. That's why I was more excited to learn that other homeschoolers are doing exactly what I had done and checking out my facts to make sure that that we all get the best information. Jim O'Donnell did exactly that and spoke directly with JoNell Caldwell, the homeschool mom that Huckabee appointed to the Arkansas school board.

"While at the meeting I asked Mrs. Caldwell about House Bill 1724. She explained that while this Bill WAS a compromise, Huckabee signed the law because the alternative was the greater of two evils..."
I understand this bill was a compromise measure and said that in my first post, however if all liberal Democrats have to do is intoduce threatening legislation to get concessions from Huckabee, then what’s going to happen when he gets before hostile Democrats in Congress?

Already the New York Times is setting the stage for exactly that type of show down. Here's their headline from a few days ago, Lack of Supervision Noted in Deaths of Home-Schooled

The lack of supervision of the home-schooling process, some experts say, may have made it easier last year for Ms. Jacks to withdraw her children from school and the prying eyes of teachers, social workers and other professionals who otherwise might have detected signs of abuse and neglect of the girls.
Do we want a candidate who compromises at the federal level? Remember this law was passed even though though HSLDA opposed it. (And when you consider he was also endorsed by the NEA, how much help will HSLDA be if he gets elected?)

Putting that aside for the moment; didn’t the first positive piece of lhomeschool egislation get passed by many of the same Democrats in 1997? How is it that in less than two years into office all of that apparent goodwill was lost? Was it just a backlash from an angry mother who pulled her son out of school to homeschool as some of my emails and forums are suggesting? Not according to Huckabee, he cited his 1998 legislation as the cause,
With the implementation and success of the Smart Start program some legislators wanted to reverse what we had done for homeschoolers in 1997 and put in place very severe restrictions.
Why would successful legislation, seemingly unrelated to homeschooling, cause a reversal of the previous year's homeschool law? I address part of the reason in this post. But could it be that there were deals made and promises to keep with other consituencies which required Huckabee to compromise? It is something to consider given the nature of politics and Huckabee's reason.

It is also worth considering given the concern Dr. Ray Simon, then head of the Arkansas Dept. of Education (a Governor Huckabee appointee) expressed with the growing homeschool movement. Dr. Simon has a school finance background and openly worried to Time Magazine that homeschoolers were a threat to public education funding.

"A third of our support for schools comes from property taxes," says Ray Simon, director of the Arkansas department of education. "If a large number of a community's parents do not fully believe in the school system, it gets more
difficult to pass those property taxes. And that directly impacts the schools' ability to operate."
The article also quotes another Arkansas adminstrator, Kellar Noggle, who expressed concern that the 12,000 homeschoolers were "eroding support" for public education. Any legislation to stem the flow of money would obviously viewed as a positive. So would imposing a waiting period help? It certainly couldn't hurt.

I am fully aware that there were hostile politicians in Arkansas who would like to deny the fundamental rights of the parents if it helps public education, but Huckabee has the Arkansas Constitution on his side. Article 2 says,

“Freedom and independence. All men are created equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; amongst which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and reputation; and of pursuing their own happiness. To secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. ”
Are the citizens of Arkansas free or not? Freedom and independent means that a parent who believes that the family’s best interest is no longer served by having the child in a state school is FREE to pursue another arrangement. They DO NOT need the state’s permission to educate their child in a manner they see best nor must they wait 14 days to do so.

If Huckabee lacks the leadership, political skills, or courage to explain to the Arkansas legislature and those he represents why the bill they introduced denies the freedom and independence of parents, then he should have let it go without his signature and at least he would have expressed some measure of principled opposition. But he didn’t even do that. Refusing to sign it would have at least shown that he recognized that the state has no jurisdicition making such a demands upon parents. Or he could have vetoed this as well and forced the legislature to overcome one more hurdle even if all it took was 51%, but he didn’t. He signed it.

Some like JoNelle Caldwell may consider this good political strategy, but I don’t think denying the natural rights of parents or our fundamental freedoms is ever a good political strategy; at least not without explaining his fundamental opposition to such legislation based on the fact that the parent should not have to wait before taking their child out of a situation they believe is harmful to the child.

Huckabee may have been forced into a compromise, however he still had options available to demonstrate that he believed the fundamental rights of the parent had been violated. We don’t see any such recognition. Nor do we see any further attempts to remove such requirements in Huckabees time in office.

The natural rights of the parents to educate their children is a fundamental right. There are those within our government who would like to deny that right through increased regulation. Huckabee’s compromise in the area of homeschooling was a short term solution to prevent a more strigent bill from passing. However, Huckabee’s signature makes him complicit in a compromise that cemented in the minds of the Democrats and the people of Arkansas that the state has the compelling interest and the authority to deny parents their natural right to direct the education of their children. This was passed inspite of a state Constitution which says that men are free and independent to pursue their own happiness.

If Huckabee had not signed it and stood up to the Democrats and fought it with the power of the Constitution and his persuasive, articulate speech, I believe he could have defeated it or at least been on record as strongly opposing it, but he didn't.

Instead, Huckabee compromised and protected his political power and the expense of homeschoolers' rights.

But this is not just a homeschool issue. It is a philosophical discussion of how Huckabee will govern if elected President. When I hear him say he wants to employ "vertical" politics that is neither left or right and evangelical Christians cheer him, I want to cry. There is no lukewarm in the fight for our freedom. The "left" wants to bring our country down and destroy our fundamental freedoms including the right to direct the education of our children. If homeschoolers in Arkansas accept a Governor who compromises their freedom, who am I to argue? But that doesn't mean I have to accept him as the Republican nomineee for president.

(JoNelle Caldwell also talked about the IBO, I answered her assertion of "local control" in a comment here.)

No comments: