Public Education Hater Rick Santorum to Speak at Texas Home School Coalition Gala

by Dan Quinn

It’s one thing to support the right of parents to educate their own children at home. But are right-wing groups like the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) simply hostile to the concept of public education altogether? Sure seems like it considering that former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum will be the featured speaker at a major THSC fundraiser next month in Lakeway west of Austin.

Santorum’s extremist views on issues like opposing LGBT equality and birth control have made him a hero among religious-right activists. For example, Santorum has compared marriage equality to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and argued that overturning sodomy laws would lead to “man on child, man on dog” sex. (He went on to lament the fact that government “doesn’t have the rights to limit individuals’ wants and passions.”) He has also suggested that states should have the authority to ban people — everyone — from using birth control.

But Santorum is also hostile to public education, something else that thrills religious-righters. Santorum and his wife home-schooled their children. During the Republican presidential nomination contest in 2012, The Hill reported about Santorum’s education views:

Santorum devoted more than 50 pages of his best-selling 2005 book, It Takes a Family, to the topic, including an extended argument in favor of home-schooling and a sharp critique of “mass education.”

In the socialization of children, he wrote, mass education “is really the aberration, not home-schooling.”

“Never before and never again after their years of mass education will any person live and work in such a radically narrow, age-segregated environment,” Santorum wrote. “It’s amazing that so many kids turn out to be fairly normal, considering the weird socialization they get in public schools.”

But Santorum didn’t always home-school his kids. Five of his kids were enrolled in an online public charter school in Pennsylvania while they lived in Virginia during Santorum’s years in the U.S. Senate. After officials in the Pennsylvania school district discovered that Santorum’s kids didn’t even live in the same state, they asked him to repay much of $100,000 cost of educating them from 2001 to 2004. He refused, withdrew his children from the program, and left it to state (and state taxpayers) to reimburse the district.

An unrepentant Santorum continued attacking public schools. Here’s what he said on the presidential campaign trail in 2012:

“We didn’t have government-run schools for a long time in this country, for the majority of the time in this country. We had private education. We had local education. Parents actually controlled the education of their children. What a great idea that is.”

He said this in 2011:

“Just call them what they are. Public schools? That’s a nice way of putting it. These are government-run schools.”

Officials with the Texas Home School Coalition must think that kind of sneering contempt for public education will go over well with their supporters.

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