OPEN LETTER TO DR. MICHAEL FARRIS AND THE HOME SCHOOL LEGAL DEFENSE ASSOCIATION
Please pass along.
Dear Dr. Farris, Michael Smith, and the HSLDA,
My name is *SK Johnson and I am an 18 year old home educated student from *************. I have been home schooled my entire educational career, and am preparing to graduate this coming May. During my time as a home schooler I have been impressed with your organization and its tireless work to defend home schooling. I know your organization to be a true friend to families who want to have the ability to raise their children in their own homes.
I am a very politically aware and involved individual, and was interested to read your letter endorsing Governor Mike Huckabee for President in 2008. I was excited that the HSLDA was taking an early interest in the upcoming election. At the time I received your letter I had been supporting a different candidate, but your letter did encourage me to take a closer look at Governor Huckabee. I liked a lot of what I saw in his positions and rhetoric. Yet, and I say this with the utmost of respect for you and your organization, the more I investigated the more baffled I became by your endorsement.
The first thing I noted was Governor Huckabee's own words from his book, From Hope to Higher Ground. He states in this book, "While many elected officials pontificate proudly about their deep interest in and commitment to public education, so many put their own children in private schools. If the public schools are so deserving of their (and our) support, why aren't they deserving of the ultimate support--having confidence enough in them for their own children to be educated there?....Although the teachers' union in Arkansas never supported me (mainly because they have so long been controlled by the machinery of the Democratic Party) improving education in the public schools has understandably been a priority for me." I was somewhat bothered by this statement, especially because of the point that he makes that the reason the teachers' unions never supported him was because of politics, but not because of differing policies. So I decided to dig a little deeper.
At Governor Huckabee's State of the State address to the Arkansas legislature of January 9, 2001, Governor Huckabee said these words about teachers' salaries: "Our basic constitutional responsibility is to provide for free, equitable and adequate public education for students through the 12th grade. I would recommend that we set for ourselves the task of raising teacher salaries in this state by $3,000, recognizing that’s not enough and it’s not the finish line but it’s a good starting point. If we don’t raise those salaries at least by that kind of money, we are going to be further and further behind."
In defense of Mr. Huckabee, some have argued that he was forced by the Arkansas judicial system, and by the State constitution to raise taxes to go towards the public educational system. On this issue I am not an authority, and have no strong opinion. I however find it telling that regardless of the circumstances surrounding these decisions, Governor Huckabee took the liberty to 'brag' about these decisions and actions. The quote in the last paragraph is one example, as is Governor Huckabee's speech to the National Educational Association (an organization, as you know, that is vehemently against home education, and many of the HSLDA's main positions). A clip of the speech can be found here: ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hO4_5XOSzKk ). Whether he was forced to do it or not, he was proud of it.
I have subsequently been made aware that Governor Huckabee has been specifically against many of the HSLDA's positions on education. The HSLDA website says the following, "It is HSLDA’s firm belief that federal government spending on education is unconstitutional and must be eliminated. While we support the position that the federal government should not be involved in education at any level, we also support measures that incrementally reduce the control of the federal government over education.” This is in complete contradiction with the quotes stated above, in addition to Huckabee's initiation of the Smart Start program in Arkansas that increased funding to the public schools. He also has supported mandated testing, which the HSLDA has been against. Governor Huckabee said, “You wouldn’t go to the football game or the basketball game or the baseball game and say, ‘Just turn the scoreboard off,’ and neither could we realistically say we’re really interested in improving the quality of education, but we’re not going to keep score. So do we need tests? Yes.”
At this point in my research into Governor Huckabee's history on education I came to the conclusion that although his support of public education goes against my personal views and the views of the HSLDA, perhaps his support of homeschooling was what matters. I read with keen interest the news stories about Huckabee's home school legislation, and when he appointed a home school mom to the school board. I have immense respect for those actions. Yet, once again, some more frustrating information came to my attention. There is an article on the HSLDA website from around the year 1999 when Arkansas gained the "unique distinction of becoming the first state in the nation to add restrictions to its existing home school law....The new law, among other things, establishes notification deadlines and imposes a 14-day waiting period before parents are allowed to withdraw their children from public school to begin home schooling mid-semester." * The article commends Mike Huckabee's original work to support home schooling, but clearly points out his support of Act 1117 (the legislation mentioned above), which he signed on April 5th, 1999. Even Mike Huckbee's true commitment to home schooling is questionable.
I think it is also noteworthy, though possibly grasping at straws and/or coincidental, that before your organization's endorsement, Mike Huckabee's position paper on his website stated that "I believe that every child in America has the right to a quality public education"
You are correct when you make the point that a moderate nominee can not win the 2008 election. The Republican party MUST elect a consistently conservative candidate if they are to have any chance to win the 2008 election. In my investigation into Mike Huckabee's prior actions and positions, I continue to be convinced that Mike Huckabee could be more easily exposed as a moderate liberal than even Rudy Giuliani. Could Hilary Clinton be just waiting for Huckabee to get the nomination, knowing how easy it would be to beat up on him?
For one thing, while Governor in Arkansas, Huckabee initiated and supported the ARKids First program. This program was a child healthcare initiative that has been compared to the S-CHIP. Similarly, when the candidates were asked if they supported President Bush's veto of the S-CHIP, Governor Huckabee kept his hand down. Once, in Arkansas, Governor Huckabee stood side by side with John Tyson of Tyson foods applauding our government's 'open door policy' and joking about the fact english speaking, white men would soon become a minority because of all the hispanic workers we NEED. He also believes that there is not a problem with mexican workers taking our jobs. He was against legislation in Arkansas that would deny public benefits and the right to vote to illegal immigrants, saying it “inflames those who are racist and bigots and makes them think there’s a real problem. But there’s not.” He also made it clear that he did not think the Bush-McCain-Kennedy immigration bill was amnesty. He has also supported allowing homosexuals to serve in the military, smoking bans, food content regulations, and public funding for alternative fuel sources.
Although Mr. Huckabee has been relatively steadfast on social issues, I was surprised to find the following quote about abortion made by Governor Huckabee in January of 2001, "I'm pro life, but I know not everyone agrees with me on that particular topic, and I respect that." He also said on a more recent occasion, "You know, I've never hated the Clintons. I still don't, I have great respect for them."
The loss of jobs, the discovery of dangerous materials in Chinese products, and the current trade debt because of increased trade status with China is quickly becoming a hot button conservative issue. More and more conservatives are against our current free trade policies and are advocating more Reagan-like trade policies. Governor Huckabee said this about trade with China in April of 2007, "The good news is that China is becoming much more a part of the mainstream. In its economic development and even in giving greater liberties to its people." Ironically, it was announced just yesterday (at the time of this writing) that China would not allow Beijing Olympic attendees to bring in more than 1 Bible into the country. Christian persecution has not ended in China, and neither has countless other human right violations that occur in that country. Beyond that, China is sending our trade dollars to make weapons going to Iran, which is ending up in the hands of Hezbollah, Afghani insurgents, and Iraqi insurgents. Some of the weapons, however, came directly from China and not through Iran. These statements by Governor Huckabee are naive and dangerous to say the least.
Although the bulk of my letter has been in opposition to Mike Huckabee, I would like to take a moment and discuss the candidate I am supporting: Congressman Duncan Hunter.
Duncan Hunter has spent his career standing up for families, freedom, and for a strong and secure country. He is considered the 'father of the border fence,' as he has been the leader for immigration reform and border security. He was Chairman of the Armed services committee, where he worked hard to make sure our troops got the support and equipment they have needed to keep us safe. He accurately predicted the dangers that would ensue with increased trade with China, and has been against our current trade deals with them from the beginning, himself advocating Reagnesque mirror-trade. He authored the bill to define life at conception over 5 times, and once stood up the ACLU's attempts to take down a cross at a veteran memorial. Focus on the Family commended Congressman Hunter on his creation of the Parents' Empowerment Act which gave parents the right to sue organizations over pornographic material that is too accessible to children. He was also an original co-sponsor of the Fair Tax.
Duncan Hunter has perfect ratings from Americans for Better Immigration, the Eagle Forum, the NRA, the National Right to Life, and Concerned Women for America. He has been labeled the most conservative member of Congress in the race. Ann Coulter has already announced her support of him, and Michael Reagan said Congressman Hunter is "everything conservatives want." According to trusted friends of mine, Michael Reagan even compared Duncan Hunter to his father, Ronald Reagan, in a conversation with him after a particular debate.
When it comes to home schooling and education, Hunter has always supported school choice endeavors, decreased federal involvement in public education, and the rights of home schoolers. He is rated 17% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes and he said the following about home education, "Taking into consideration that approximately 2 million children are taught at home, it is important that we make every effort to ensure these students have the same access and opportunities to federal benefits, such as financial aid, as those who attend public school."
It is not too late for Duncan Hunter to gain massive support. Ronald Reagan himself was at a similar position at this point in his campaign for the 1980 presidency. Congressman Hunter won the Texas straw poll by a landslide with only a few days of campaigning, beating Fred Thompson (the runner up) 2-1. According to selectsmart.com, Duncan Hunter is the candidate most consistent with the general public's positions 69% of the time. Congressman Hunter can still win, and it is up to us to put him in the White House.
I have no doubt that your endorsement was made with integrity, and I have great respect for your reasoning and your desire to become involved in this election. The upcoming election could be a very defining one for our country, and it deserves our utmost attention and involvement. I do not wish this letter to come as an embarrassment or a ridicule against you or your decision. I merely hope that you can consider either taking back your endorsement, making a second additional endorsement, or at least help promote the positions and viability of Congressman Duncan Hunter. He is a true friend of the family, of freedom, and of home schooling.
You and your organization are in my prayers, as is our country.