November 14, 2017

Has Home Schooling Growth Stagnated?

Over the last 20 years, the U.S. Department of Education has periodically polled the public on education issues. Included in that polling has been a query on how many families teach their children at home.

These surveys usually result in news stories about how homeschooling continues to dramatically grow. Unfortunately, there are other news stories that attempt to discredit the rise of homeschooling.

In 2012, the Department of Education estimated that nearly 2.0 million U.S. families homeschool their children, making up roughly 3.5 percent of school-age children. This represented 62 percent growth from the period of 2003 to 2012. The data supported the conclusion that more of the public is accepting homeschooling as a viable educational alternative.

Recently, the U.S. Department released the results of its 2016 survey. The report noted that the number of homeschool families was essentially flat from 2012. Some outlets jumped on that report to claim that the public’s love affair with homeschooling was over. This was not a surprise to me, as the public school sector has argued since the 1980s that parents are not qualified to teach their children and should be strictly regulated by the state.

However, Dr. Brian Ray with the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) released some interesting data questioning the U.S. Department’s conclusions. Dr. Ray also suggested that the poll was an “outlier” and not representative of the U.S. homeschooling community.

Dr. Ray reported the following:

– While the overall school-age population in the United States grew by about 2.0 percent from Spring 2012 to Spring 2016, data from 16 states from all four major regions of the nation showed that homeschooling grew by an average of about 25 percent in those states.

– If the data from these states is representative of what happened in the other states during those four years, then homeschooling is continuing to grow in both absolute numbers and as a portion of the overall school-age population.

To further support Dr. Ray’s argument, THSC has anecdotally noted an increase in homeschooling activity in the state of Texas. Over the last two years, THSC has seen a 30 percent increase in calls and emails that we have received inquiring about homeschooling.

Despite what the public education lobby hopes, homeschooling is continuing to grow in this country. This is especially true in Texas where a new generation of homeschoolers have seen for themselves that homeschooling is a great option for their family.

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November 21, 2017

Choosing (Between Two) Good Candidates

THSC Association has been working its process of vetting candidates for public office in Texas for legislative, judicial, and local campaigns. You can find a list of THSC’s 2018 endorsements here.

We take candidate vetting very seriously for several reasons, the most important of which is to find out what candidates believe about homeschooling, parental rights and freedom for the family. It’s also an opportunity to educate candidates about the issues that are important to the families of Texas.

Sometimes this job is easy. One of our committees recently interviewed a candidate who said that he thought homeschoolers should be regulated by public school districts. He believed that public school officials should oversee curriculum and testing of homeschool students. He also stated that any family member should be able to sue parents for access to their children without demonstrating lack of fitness or harm.

Not only will we not support this candidate, we will actively oppose his election by passing on his comments to the homeschool community during his campaign. This is one reason it is so critical that all homeschoolers vote!

Other times the process is more difficult. In Senate District 16 near Dallas, two candidates who are both friends and supporters of homeschooling and THSC, Angela Paxton and Phillip Huffines, are running for Texas Senate. Angela Paxton and her husband Ken Paxton homeschooled their children and have been long-time supporters of THSC. Phillip Huffines’ family members have also homeschooled for many years and are long-time supporters of THSC.

So what do you do when there are two good candidates in the same race?

Our vetting process includes asking candidates to complete a questionnaire and sit for an interview with a local vetting committee. This is how we go about finding the best candidate who will stand strongly for the family at each level of government.

As opposed to times when candidates clearly state that they oppose freedom, other times when we find ourselves in a position to determine which of good two candidates we should support. The race between Angela Paxton and Phillip Huffines is one such instance. While we respect Phillip Huffines and recognize that he is a good candidate, at the recommendation of our local committee we are endorsing Angela Paxton.

Texas homeschoolers have long been a major political force in Texas because of our dedication to our principles and our willingness to vote and work hard in defense of those principles. Do you know of candidates who THSC should interview in your area?

View this page to see how THSC’s endorsement process works and let us know if there are candidates you believe that THSC should consider.

Are your friends registered to vote? Let’s work together to elect godly leaders who will stand for Texas families as we work together Keeping Texas Families Free.

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November 28, 2017

Defenders of Freedom in the Crosshairs

Over the years, people have asked me why homeschoolers in Texas seem reluctant to work with local school officials. I always explain that this response is directly related to the aggressive and sometimes personal nature of opposition in the 1980s and 1990s by school districts against homeschool families.

I was reminded of that recently when I read an article describing the all-out effort from public school groups to organize and motivate their people to vote in the Republican Primary. As you may know, the Republican Party has not been the natural political home of teacher unions. These groups, however, clearly understand that the only thing standing between them and families having more choices regarding the education of their children is Speaker Joe Straus, who has announced that he will not stand for re-election.

This, of course, means that there will be new leadership in the Texas House and that leadership could follow the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas in supporting legislation that could give Texas families more choices for the education of their children. Consequently, these public education groups have targeted many conservative legislators in the upcoming primary to run in opposition against.

One such group noted in their opposition to a conservative legislator that all you needed to know to oppose him was that he was a homeschooler.

Earlier this year, a homeschool friend in my city told me that a public school teacher shared with him very negative comments that a public school official in our city made about me, in particular, as well as legislation that would give families more choices for the education of their children.

While the homeschool community in Texas strongly supports such legislation, as does the public in general, the Democratic Party and public school lobby are vehemently opposed to that kind of freedom. They are planning to make every effort to elect legislators who agree with them and unseat those who do not.

It is critical for the Texas homeschool community to participate in the electoral process of choosing legislators. It is especially critical to support legislators who support homeschooling and parental rights. Failure to do so could result in the loss of friends in the legislature, replaced by those who oppose freedom for families of Texas.

I strongly urge you to be sure that you are registered to vote and that you vote in the primary to help us elect defenders of homeschooling and parental rights in Texas. This is how we can work together Keeping Texas Families Free.

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