December 24, 2004


Power center driven by religion to reshape nation (Doug Oplinger and Dennis J. Willard, , Nov. 19, 2004, Akron Beacon Journal)

Founded in 1983 as a legal-aid society for home-schooling parents, [Home School Legal Defense Association] has become much more. It has taken on the appearance of a political party in its own right, with an evangelical Christian mission to shape the American culture and change the face of government, the news media and international affairs.

While many Americans know little or nothing about home schooling and HSLDA, the resources of this new army of northern Virginia played an important role in the moral-values campaign that ushered George W. Bush into a second term and elected conservative Republicans to Congress.

The Home School Legal Defense Association has its own political leadership, its own fund-raising structure, a carefully screened battalion of college students and thousands of volunteers across the country who share a conservative vision of saving America from its sinful ways.

Charitable donations from some of America's wealthiest conservatives and dues from the organization's 81,000 member families are the financial backbone.

HSLDA leaders control a political action committee.

Families who buy memberships for the legal protection also are buying into an organization that takes positions on behalf of states' and individual rights. It works against liberal judges and politicians, homosexual rights and abortion. [...]

Patrick Henry College is the training camp of the home-schooled fundamentalist Christian movement.

The school requires its students to commit nearly half of their junior and senior years to fieldwork for political interests. Because charitable contributions support the four-year-old college, the political involvement pushes the legal limits for a nonprofit organization.

In the school's short history, Patrick Henry students already have worn a path down Route 7 to the nation's capital. Last spring, they claimed seven of the 100 college internships at the White House, the Bush administration confirmed. They also worked with U.S. intelligence agencies and such conservative think tanks as the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

Patrick Henry's students permeate all levels of government, writing e-mail alerts to members of Congress on behalf of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum or handling questions from citizens back home for U.S. senators. On weekends, it's not unusual for the Republican National Committee to transport students to distant locations to help with targeted campaigns.

Michael Farris is president of Patrick Henry College and chairman and chief counsel of the Home School Legal Defense Association.

Education Week magazine has named him one of the 100 most important faces in education in the 20th century.

Farris was a leader in Pat Buchanan's 1992 effort to be a viable third-party presidential candidate. The ordained minister and lawyer has argued -- and won -- pivotal cases before the U.S. and state supreme courts regarding religious freedom and individual rights.

"We're the balance'' in higher education, Farris said in an interview with the Akron Beacon Journal. "You won't find people here who are advocating socialism or Marxism. That's not the case in most colleges. You will find people there that are socialists.

"We are unashamedly Christians, trying to train high-level, academically qualified students who have a deep Christian conviction who will go out and do good things for this world,'' Farris said. "You will not find political correctness here in any way, shape or form.''

Once the secular State loses its monopoly over the minds of children...

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 24, 2004 8:24 PM

I'm waiting for the boilerplate anecdote stating that home-schooled kids are anti-social retards...

Posted by: Randall Voth at November 22, 2004 4:28 AM


I've seen lots--handwringings by the public education industry about how homeschooled kids lack "socialization skills". The trouble is that homeschoolers tend to react defensively by insisting that their kids are every bit as well socialized instead of just looking at them blankly and saying: "and your point is?"

There are few things more disagreeable than a well-socialized six year old.

Posted by: Peter B at November 22, 2004 8:30 AM

I suppose if a parent wanted to 'socialize' his children in the way that public schools do, he could wait for his kid to go to the bathroom, then beat him up and take his lunch money.

Posted by: Bart at November 22, 2004 11:48 AM

One of the women in my Tuesday tech discussion group runs a business supplying curricula to home schoolers.

Although there are exceptions, it's pretty clear that most home schooled kids are getting the kind of science education that I got in Catholic school. Namely, none.

They may make great lawyers, but they're going to be also-rans in the productive society.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at November 22, 2004 8:59 PM

No one uses science in their working life except scientists, who don't use anything they learned in grade school.

Posted by: oj at November 22, 2004 11:27 PM

Not quite true. To function in what you call an idea society, you at least have to recognize science when you see it.

Few home schooled kids are going to be able to.

If I were planning on a career as a con artist in the mid-21st century, I know exactly who my targets would be. We are heading into the Second Golden Age of Snake Oil.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at November 25, 2004 1:58 AM

As a homeschooling mom who has been very active in homeschool groups in
three different states, I can attest that many homeschool families do a
lot of good science study. I'm currently working with my two teenagers
on a high school level biology study complete with labs. I also have a
seven year old who does a lot of science exploration, and he will have
continuing opportunities for science study. Even if none of my
kids pursue a science-related field, I feel that all three will have
more scientific background than many of the kids that I talk to who
attend public schools. My seven year old is already asking about why
light, when it is refracted, separates into different colors (we'll have
a new set of inexpensive prisms before the week is out - lost the ones I
used with the big kids) and is on a hand-washing spree ever since we
identified multi-celled but not-visible-to-the-naked-eye rotifers in our
bird bath.

Some families use homeschool group resources or form co-ops for science
study, others use the wonderful science museums, zoos, and other
community resources, and still others use a child-led exploration to
study science. There may be some homeschool families out there who
don't do science, but among the hundreds of homeschool families I have
known fairly well, I have not known any where the kids learned "nothing"
about science. And I've known a number, whose kids demonstrated a
particular proclivity for science, who have done an extremely good job
preparing their children for science-related careers. There are
excellent resources out there, and science is so interesting, that it's
just not hard for homeschooled families to find ways to complete this
part of their children's education.

Posted by: jen at December 29, 2004 10:28 PM