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World Magazine ^
| Joel Belz
Posted on 10/17/2003 2:31:50 PM PDT by anniegetyourgun
Homeschoolers may become to conservative Republicans what labor unions are to Democrats
YOU'VE HEARD A LOT RECENTLY ABOUT THE tightening presidential race for 2004. The huge lead George W. Bush had just three or four months ago, according to some usually reliable polls, has vanished. With almost 13 months still separating us from the next election, of course, all such speculation is pretty squishy; but nobody likes to see a big advantage melt away.
What you may not have heard much about is a potent weapon increasingly available to conservative political candidates. That weapon, to be sure, is by no means fully developed. It's nowhere nearly as potent now as it's likely to be in 20 years. But if you were a liberal running for office sometime soon, you'd take no comfort from the fact that this is still a new and unpolished tool.
I'm referring to the homeschool movement. But I'm not talking in terms of the broad, generic, educational, and philosophical influence the movement is likely to exert on society. That too is real, and almost certainly beneficial.
But I focus here instead on the fact that homeschooling families tend to be politically active by margins that should scare the daylights out of anyone whom those homeschoolers might want to take on.
For example, just 29 percent of all 18- to 24-year-olds voted in national and state elections over the last five years. But among former homeschoolers who are now in that age bracket, a whopping 74 percent went to the polls. In the next age bracket up (25- to 29-year-olds) the margin is even bigger: In the population at large, 40 percent voted, but among folks with homeschooling backgrounds, 93 percent went to the polls.
While those are impressiveeven staggeringdifferences, a tough-minded critic might still come back with a scornful "So what?" After all, best estimates are that there are only 2 million homeschoolers in the United States right nowor maybe as many as 2.5 million or at most 3 million. What are they among the 80 million to 100 million who go to the polls in a typical national election? Besides, homeschooling is still a relatively young phenomenon, which means that only a relative few of its products are out there in the political milieu.
But anyone who argues that way is setting himself up for a fall. For it's not just on the voting front that homeschoolers will affect the political process for years to come. They carry two other potent weapons.
First, former homeschoolers are at least two or three times as likely as others to be financial contributors to political candidates, parties, and causes.
Much more important, however, is that homeschoolers are two to 10 times as likely as the population at large to be on-the-ground workers for political candidates, parties, and causes.
"Those are astonishing numbers," says Michael Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association. "Anyone with any political savvy can see that something is happening with homeschooled children to turn them into the greatest single source for political activism our nation has seen in a long time."
Mr. Farris points out that this is not just about some future potential, but already-organized reality. In Missouri last year, he says, a team of 90 students (including 40 from Patrick Henry College, where Mr. Farris is president) helped secure the narrow victory of Republican Jim Talent for the U.S. Senate. The top party official in Missouri commented: "The Student Project in southwest Missouri allowed us to win.... Our voter turnout increased by at least 15 percent in the area where the students were working."
Similarly, in New Mexico, a team of 60 students helped conservative Steve Pearce rack up a 12 percent victory margin in a House district where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 50,000 voters and where the race had been called a dead heat just 10 days earlier.
All that means, of course, that homeschoolers' extraordinary activism eclipses their relatively small numbers. And activism is almost always what makes a difference in political contests.
Might homeschoolers come to be for conservative Republicans what the labor movement has traditionally been for Democrats? That is the goal of HSLDA and its new federal political action committee called Generation Joshua. Mr. Farris hopes the strategy will help "train tomorrow's political leaders by enabling them to participate in electing today's leaders." The growing group (anchored by homeschoolers, but by no means limited to those with homeschooling backgrounds) is especially targeting U.S. Senate races next year in Florida, South Dakota, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
Heading the new group is Ned Ryun, graduate of the University of Kansas and son of Kansas Congressman (and former track star) Jim Ryun. He doesn't remind you much of a union boss. But the tools quietly at his disposal may prove him every bit as politically potent.
TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: homeschooling; hslda; michaelfarris; patrickhenrycollege
Doubtful as homeschooler politics run the gamut.
True, but they certainly are easy to mobilize when their basic freedoms to educate their children at home are threatened. And let's face it - Dem operatives hate that idea.
Several reasons could be suggested why the homeschooling movement is positive.
a. Many homeschoolers are Christians who fear that schools will corrupt their kids.
b. Many homeschoolers resent repeated attempts by liberal teachers' unions to limit or end homeschooling or otherwise to make them jump through hoops for permission to homeschool.
c. The Public schools and colleges are virtually machines for brainwashing kids and turning out good little liberals. Just keeping kids out of these systems is bound to be a big plus.
posted on 10/17/2003 2:45:44 PM PDT
I'm pretty sure I already know the answer to this one but I would like to see the stats for the political leanings of homeschooled persons.
posted on 10/17/2003 2:45:52 PM PDT
(I hear the voices in my head, I swear to God it sounds like they're snoring...)
Might homeschoolers come to be for conservative Republicans what the labor movement has traditionally been for Democrats?
Best of all, true union membership is declining while the number of home schooling families is growing at an accelerating rate.
Home schooled loyalty is a conservative natural. These kids are not indoctrinated into politically correct and "current fashion " ideas. They get the real and the classic.
Yep, they're ours.
posted on 10/17/2003 3:00:24 PM PDT
I can only speak for the 100 or so homeschooling families I know in CT, GA, IL, CA and WI. They are all Republicans, though not all totally conservative. In addition, about 75% of them, us included, used the 2002 campaign as a focal point of study that year. Sonny Perdue and Saxby Chambliss in Georgia had offices that were filled with homeschoolers almost every day for at least an hour or two. They (we) were in all the parades, lit drops and events. I am convinced it isone of the main reasons both men won here. My, at the time, 9 year old visited 500 houses (with me trailing in the car.)
We sat down with all the literature and went to the debates to choose wich candidates to supportas a family (Libertarian, Republican and Democrat), I did not make her choose. Interestingly, she opted for Perdue while I was leaning toward another contender. She had to drag ME to the events more often than not. When we run in to the Gov. now, it is my kids he recognizes and pays attention to, not me or my husband.
As a result of the impact all of my kids feel like they had, they are very interested and invested in the process and I think that will last a lifetime. We are growing in numbers every year. Liberals should be very afraid.
posted on 10/17/2003 3:07:17 PM PDT
(Al Franken is a pimple on the butt of liberalism)
I agree, but there are as many if not more homeschoolers that are hard core liberal. Not bad, IMO, but aside from the educational freedom issue, you may find little common ground.
I haven't had that experience. One thing I will say, however, is that there is only one political party that supports a variety of schooling choices and it isn't the one liberals hang their hats on.
posted on 10/17/2003 3:50:59 PM PDT
(Al Franken is a pimple on the butt of liberalism)
My wife and I recently started homeschooling. What we've discovered is that the vast majority of homeschooling families in our area (Bellingham,WA) are ultra-conservative. Amazingly, many of the homeschooling parents we know are/were teachers and their experience in the public schools has motivated them to find a better way of raising their own children. It's a bit ironic to think that these friends of ours are/were members of the NEA.
posted on 10/17/2003 4:16:09 PM PDT
I have discovered a lot of educators homeschooling as well, I am one of them. I student taught in a public school, but went to work in a wonderful private school. I left to raise my babies and we moved to Georgia where I have not been able to find affordable, quality private schools. The Catholic school we came from near Chicago was $1950 a year, here the diocisian (sp??) ones run about $5800 and the independent Catholic schools are over $8000 (and frankly a little too conservative for us).
We made the mistake of trying a Methodist school for a while, but found them far, far, far too liberal for our tastes. When they decided to not discuss "contorversial" topics Biblically, or even morally, it was enough. I had already been in a moral and spiritual vaccum in the public schools. We thought we'd take a break from the system and give ourselves time to really research other Christian schools. And the kicker??? Turns out that we love homeschooling and have found that it may bethe perfect choice for us long term.
posted on 10/17/2003 5:54:29 PM PDT
(Al Franken is a pimple on the butt of liberalism)
Unfortunately it's not the republican party either.
"...former track star) Jim Ryun.."
This doesn't begin to tell the story. Jim Ryun broke the World record in the mile when he was 17 or 18 years old and still in High School. Quite a young man!
posted on 10/17/2003 9:16:48 PM PDT
by Chu Gary
You have the best tag line...
... she says while blowing coffee from her nose...
posted on 10/17/2003 11:27:05 PM PDT
(I smell... COFFEE! coffeecoffeecoffeecoffee! COFFEE!!)
Just when I was beginning to think the world IS going to hell in a handbasket, I read this and it's like a breath of fresh air. Thanks for posting this!!!
posted on 10/17/2003 11:48:12 PM PDT
("Everyone who is for abortion HAS been born." Ronald Reagan)
Which proves what the dems (socialists) already knew. Don't teach about the govt and people will not vote - the dems win.
However .. when the Homeschoolers study about the founding fathers, the govt, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, THEY VOTE!! Because .. they understand what's at stake.
posted on 10/18/2003 12:19:54 AM PDT
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