by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If you enjoyed Terry Stoops’ analysis of the latest N.C. homeschool data, you might appreciate Matthew Hennessey’s National Review Online article about a homeschool-related issue in Texas state government.
Should a homeschooler be trusted with setting policy and standards for a state’s public schools?
That’s the question being asked in Texas, where Republican governor Greg Abbott recently appointed Donna Bahorich chairman of the state board of education. Bahorich homeschooled her three now-grown sons from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Progressives have been both predictable and vicious in their criticism. Despite Bahorich’s decade of work in Texas politics, a Texas Public Radio headline derisively dubbed her a “home-school mom.” The Austin Chronicle labeled her positions “extreme” and criticized her as “a vocal advocate” for “right-wing friendly curriculum standards.”
“If you only look at the superficial, perhaps there’s not a straight line connecting homeschooling and public schooling,” Bahorich told me in an interview last week. “I understand people are confused. To pretend that I’m not ‘out of the box’ would be crazy. All I can say is I didn’t get this job for no reason — it’s based on my track record.” …
… In 2012, Bahorich won election in her own right to the state board of education against an opponent, Traci Jensen, who was both a former classroom teacher and an education professor with a doctorate in curriculum and instruction. Evidently, the 1.7 million residents of the state board of education’s District Six liked Bahorich’s policy credentials just fine. …
… National progressives noticed Bahorich’s appointment, too. From the fortified redoubts of the People’s Republic of Brooklyn, Slate’s Amanda Marcotte offered her two cents: “Texas is bent on undermining public schools, not fixing them. This appointment only serves as further proof.”
This view of homeschooling is endemic on the progressive Left, which has long fetishized compulsory public education as the most exalted expression of democratic values and civic commitment. Homeschooling, by contrast, is viewed by leftist panjandrums as a social illness fueled by class privilege and leading inevitably to theocracy.