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  1. Now THAT is one fine example of ‘a picture being worth a thousand words.’

    Muslin….isn’t that some kind of cotton fabric?

  2. I read that the Perry campaign folks didn’t allow anyone to bring signs into the arena. Instead, campaign workers placed “handmade” signs around the seats. I’m assuming that a grown-up campaign staffer made this, not an actual home-schooled kid

  3. Not all Texas homeschoolers are ignorant, crazy, Republican or even Christian. I appreciate the irony of the sign, but please don’t stereotype homeschoolers as a whole. This heathen, liberal leaning, highly educated homeschool mom will most definitely NOT be voting for Perry in the Republican primary this year. I’m far from the only homeschooler of my kind either. Even in Texas.

    TFN, of all folks, should understand that I choose to home educate my children because there is actually TOO MUCH religion and politics in Texas public education for me. I don’t want the SBOE to EVER get their insane-o claws on my children’s minds. So instead we homeschool and you better believe that our biology standards include an in-depth study of evolution.

    1. Homeschooling Mom,
      You are absolutely correct in noting that the political and religious views of homeschooling parents run across the spectrum. We simply thought the photo was deeply ironic, particularly considering the governor’s outrageously anti-public education policies over the years.

  4. Sorry, you’re absolutely right.
    Maybe we could start a “homeschooling olympics” to highlight the possiblity for quality homeschooling.
    Sort of like the spelling bee.

  5. I am a big fan of TFN but I take exception to the implications in this “pic with no commentary.” It is true that many homeschoolers are rightwing nutcases but the fact is Perry has worked very hard to turn public schools into places only a right-wing Christian could love.

    I am a Buddhist/atheist. I took my kids out of school because of the strongly Christian atmosphere of their local school. It was that, the very poor education and the Orwellian security system that they used, along with a general good’ol boy attitude that forced my wife and I to keep our kids at home for two years. The school runs immediate background checks through several state and national databases every time a person visits. Parents visiting students and teachers are checked every time, without proper notice. The school treated us like we were their surrogates. And of course there was no end to Christian influence through out the year from rallies by Christian “speakers” to Christmas celebrations.

    In my opinion Texas public schools are as a whole the worst possible place for a kid to go, whether or not there are good teachers. The system is horrible, emphasis on tests is worse, paranoia is rampant. We reluctantly put our little kids back in public school recently because we had little choice considering our present situation but we’re paying for them to go to a better district than ours because its administrators are impossible to deal with and the school itself is horrid.

    No doubt schools in other parts of the state are better, I at least hope so. Here, however, religious conservatism has just as strong a hold on schools as it does on every other aspect of community life. This is especially true for the rural schools like the one in our district.

    Honestly I do not know of any good reason religious conservatives have to homeschool. There may be mention of “disagreeable” subjects in text books, etc., but in places like our local school they’re skipped over and derided regularly from pulpits and by the parents of most kids. What I’d like to see is an elimination of all standard tests, return to basic education, a complete ban on all religious observances of any kind, and an end to all Christian influence altogether.

  6. Yes, Progressive/Liberal/Secular Home Schoolers, we know you exist, but you are a *distinct* minority, and the negative stereotype exists because you are NOT representative of MOST home schoolers, m’kay?

    “I am a Buddhist/atheist. I took my kids out of school because of the strongly Christian atmosphere of their local school.”

    …So why didn’t you do something for the betterment of your fellow atheists in the community and SUE the bastards instead?
    What if Madalyn Murry O’hair had decided to do what you did instead, back in the day? Y’know, eternal vigilance, price of liberty and all that?

    The best argument/formula for homeschooling I ever heard was by Peter Sacks, in his book _Standardized Minds_ which is a thorough critique of the shortcomings of standardized testing…declare that you will home school, but then enroll the child in the local public school. Then they (students as well as their teachers) are freed from standardized testing, etc. If everyone did this, argues Sacks, we could stop “teaching to the test” and let teachers actually educate students. Interesting thought experiment if nothing else.

  7. Ted,
    Your point about stereotyping homeschoolers is well taken. I apologize.
    However, as someone who is suspended between the Christian and Buddhist spheres, I would ask you to find compassion for Christians.
    Christianity as I know it, as my parents practice it, is diametrically opposed to the political movement that has hijacked the Christian faith, again (this isn’t the first time that “Christianity” has become a function of power-lust).
    These people can be divided into two groups, the “sheep”, (they’re fools), and the “wolves” (the power-hungry).
    The world is changing faster than these people can handle, and it’s getting crowded (we’re rubbing elbows, culturally), faster than they can handle.
    Anyone who’s taken a introductory course in the history and [hilosophy of sociology, know that societies not only change, but they are in a constant state of flux. They’re as evolutionary as the living species that comprise them.
    We’re in an unprecedented epoch of change and social upheaval, as a function of the development of technology, our own success in overpopulating the world, etc. These people are looking for dark and supernatural forces to blame. They’re looking for the “other” on whom to focus their fear and loathing.
    We have to stand up to them.
    We also have to ease their fears.
    As for your critique of current social trends, I agree. I’m determined to see to it that it’s a temporary phase.

  8. JJR, I’ll sue them if you’ll pay the legal fees. What would it accomplish? Not much. It would not change the attitudes of Christians. It would merely create a more hostile environment for those who are not Christians.

    David, my wife, inlaws, and everybody else I know are Christians. Most are not right-wingers, just good ol’ folks raised Christian. No problem with them. It’s the folks who TFN try to keep out of power that I have a problem with. It’s not their religion, it’s their judgmental attitudes and their disregard for non-Christians whom they write off as reprobates or whatever term they use. We outside the “fold” will always be a minority. I worry, though, that if the wrong people get in the wrong positions of power we will be the most repressed minority in the history of the nation. A white atheist appears lower on the rating scale than minority Christians to the ultra-right-wing.

  9. Although there are exceptions to just about everything, I believe that homeschooling all across the United States is driven PRIMARILY by Christian Neo-Fundamentalist parents who want to rescue their children from love and truth. They have managed to purge both from their own personal lives and churches. They are now seeking to purge them from the lives of all Americans—indeed the whole world. The great irony is that God is both of those things. Therefore, they are trying to purge the world of God in the name of God. The Bible says a dark time will come when evil will be considered to be good and good will be considred to be evil. Certainly, this is true in many ways of American society at large. It would be fair to say that it has been true throughout all of human history in one place or another. However, and this is the real tragedy, from all that I have seen and observed in studying the Religious Right for the past 20 years, this scripture applies equally well to their beliefs and the beliefs of the Christian Neo-Fundamentalist churches. Satan has finally made the church something that it never was before in this country—a place he can visit in comfort and have his evil prejudices preached to him and others as God’s truth.

  10. Hi.

    I just started following this blog and was hoping I could make a polite request.

    As a vision impaired person, I am unable to see the images posted. Where feasible, could the poster9s) please include a caption describing the image and any relevant text from the image?

    I thank you in advance, and keep up the good fight against religious ignorance.

  11. Sorry, Charlie,

    I can’t see all that much difference between what you write and fundamentalist rhetoric. Sounds much like two sides of the same coin; change I’ll prefer not to have in my pocket.

    I frankly believe that there would be many more non-religious and non-Christian homeschoolers, and homeschooling because of the poor quality of education in local schools if parents had the time to do it. I regret the necessity of returning my children to public schools. If enough parents paid attention to their children’s education and actually cared about it maybe the schools would change. Until they do they’ll continue to be influenced by such aggressive groups as fundamentalist Christians and remain bureaucratic nightmares that focus on tests rather than students.

  12. Hi, eckythump,
    The image is a picture from a Rick Perry rally with a supporter holding a sign that reads “Homescholers for Perry”.

    Charles, I’ve been doing a little re-reading about “Simulacrum” and “simulacra” recently. This has been a debate back into early philosophy, but I was looking into the history around the 7-800’s and the debate about the nature of icons in the church.

    What we have is an attempt to replace Christianity as I knew it, and as I think it has been generally understood through history, on a level on which I think even Martin Luther and the Pope could agree.

    What is Christianity? has been a pertinent question throughout history, but it seems there has never been a time in which there was so little emphasis placed on the actual teachings of Christ and there are bookstores full and hours of tv programming everyday on issues that have a tenuous relation (at best) to those teachings.
    It’s Orwellian, obscene, and a threat to every American’s freedom.

  13. Ted, Charles, our country needs to look at all the real reasons public schools are failing in this country.
    While I think we need better teachers, I don’t think they deserve all the blame, and we would have better teachers if we paid them a better salary.
    We need to focus on the effect that television has had on our individual attention spans, as well as our family cohesiveness, and culture in general.
    We need to recognize the assault on the middle class that has come about as a result of globalism, automation, etc, has required families to have 2 incomes in order to survive.
    We also need to recognize that our economy has been driven by credit spending on junk that we don’t really need.
    We also need to remember the revolt against property taxes that sucked the education system dry.
    The public school system has been part of the glue in America that has held us together as a people, and more than any other institution, it has been the “melting pot” that has made our country great.
    While I think parents should be able to provide the best education for their children, and that includes home schooling, if necessary, I think it’s sad and scary for the future of this country to see public schools fail.

  14. I’d like to see the data that supports the claim that the majority of all home educating families are neoconservative fundamentalist Christian. The secular home educating population is much, much larger than our general culture gives us credit for. Much larger. It actually always has been a very diverse community, but a very deliberate, very effective PR campaign by extreme Christian factions within the homeschooling community, led by the HSLDA and their associates has created a terribly myopic cultural view of home education today.

    In 2007, the US Department of Education’s NCES conducted research that showed only 36% of the home educating families they surveyed chose religious/moral reasons as their primary reason for home educating. The other 64% chose reasons directly related to the failure of American public education as their primary reasons for home educating– reasons like the safety of school environments, a lack of quality education within the classroom and a desire to pursue alternative educational theories and models. Within the 36% that chose religion/morality as their primary motivation, no distinction was made between Christian families and families practicing a different faith or for that matter, secular humanists who wanted to give their kids a strong moral foundation.

    The nutjob homeschoolers are NOT the majority. Don’t perpetuate that tired stereotype unless you’re prepared to prove it.

  15. Dear Mom,

    I accessed the 2007 National Household Education Survey report published in NCES Issue Brief ( Dec. 2008) on home schooling through this link.

    According to this document, the number of parents who homeschooled their children for religous or moral grounds rose from 72% in 2003 to 83% in 2007.
    That doesn’t mean they’re all nutjobs, of course. However the published data conflicts with your post.
    I looked up the HSLDA and its parent group, the Home School Foundation, and all of the other associated resources. Virtually all of them were Christian based.
    I looked up secular homeschooling and found lots of resources, but as one prominent site blurbed, “Finding homeschool curriculum without references to religion can be a challenge.”
    It’s obvious that religious homeschooling is dominant.
    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    Parents shouldn’t have to surrender their kids to an inferior education environment.
    However, if we continue to drain off resources from poor school districts that are already beset by systemic deprivation, we will reinforce the perpetuation of an uneducated and therefore not-self-reliant underclass. This is a problem that is not restricted by race, and is increasingly a characteristic of rural America.
    Also, homeschooling parents have to be responsible for the performance of their children as well as their capacity to fit into society.
    We need EVERYONE in this country to be educated to the utmost of their capacity to learn. It impacts the national economy, and it’s a matter of national security. On top of that, we’re systematically depriving children and adults of unlucky demographics, (such as having a teenage mom), of their dignity. It’s not about having a nanny state. It’s about not engaging in social darwinism and rigging the selection process.
    We’re going to have to figure something out here.

  16. Only 36% chose it as their PRIMARY reason for home educating. Survey respondents could chose more than one reason, but were asked to identify their primary motivation. A majority of homeschoolers chose to place a different motivation above religious/moral concerns. Would extremist Christian homeschoolers do that?

    Home Education Magazine, a nationally distributed secular magazine in publication since 1984, gives some background to the systematic brain washing of American culture into believing this major myth about home education by extremist homeschoolers here: Yahoo discussion groups for secular homeschooling show membership numbers in the thousands. In fact, using the term “secular homeschooling” returns the option of 529 different groups to explore joining. There are a host of organizations dedicated to protecting homeschool freedoms who oppose HSLDA and are secular in nature. Many states (admittedly not Texas) have secular advocacy organizations who have good reputations in their state legislative circles.

    While I’m at it, I’d also like to debunk another myth about homeschoolers– Many home educating families actually do care about public education reform. Just because we’ve chose not to put our children in it does not mean we don’t care very deeply about reforming the system. We know that only a small percentage of American children are home educated and that our children will grow up to live and work alongside graduates of public education. We understand that improving opportunities for ALL children will benefit our own children in the future as well. My neighbors’ kids deserve the opportunity for a quality education just as much as my own children do. Hence why I’m actually involved in volunteering for a SBOE candidate’s campaign in my own district.

  17. I stand corrected on the 36% as offering religious/moral reasons as the primary reason, although it should be noted that that percentile is the highest of all reasons offered.

    I looked at the Home Education Magazine website as well. Apparently home schools are beset by the same issues that public school systems are coping with, narrowly focused, intolerant Christian groups seeking to exert control over the whole homeschool population.
    However, it seems that their major gripe at this site is that these HSDLA associated groups are going to bring greater governmental attention to homeschooling, more regulation, etc.

    At any rate, thanks for correcting my misperceptions about homeschoolers, we need to include your community in the dialogue when we’re discussing the influence of the radical right-wing on education.

  18. Here’s a laudable quote from Home Education Magazine:

    ‘The rationale that urges an exclusive hierarchy is the rationale for religious domination, which serves to encourage a climate of religious intolerance within the hierarchy itself. It is often advantageous to skirt the issue of religious domination, those who draw their political power from exclusive hierarchies demonstrate that there can be very tangible rewards in fanning the flames of religious intolerance. Neither domination nor intolerance will lead in any way to a greater degree of freedom for any of us.”