Duane Lester of the Missouri Torch recently attended a candidate forum  in Nodaway county, home of Northwest Missouri State University. Lester, a homeschool parent, listened to the candidates all spout their commitment to education, specifically their commitment to the public education system. They “vowed to be an outspoken advocate in Jefferson City for education,” according to Lester. Great stump words, but Lester asked a very important question of the candidates and got some very frightening answers.

I don’t need someone to go to Jeff City and be an advocate for education. I’ve spent enough time in the Capitol to know they’ve got plenty of lobbyists. I need somebody who’s willing to go and be an advocate for the parent and for the student. I’m a homeschool dad, so I need to know where each of you stand on homeschooling, charter schools, school choice in general. The freedom in education. Where are you on school choice?

The responses all revealed a distrust of the citizens to be able to run their own lives and be good caretakers of their children. And these responses came from Republicans.

“Ritterbusch basically said he was against school choice and government schools are where children belonged because it, in his words, “serves the public purposes of our nation,” whatever that means.

Kathy DeVault’s opinion is that teachers are better for the children, because they are “very well trained” to be teachers. She then told a story about when she was a substitute teacher and was unable to help a student who was in her class. Therefore, no one who isn’t a “very well trained” teacher could reach him. Also, some people are homeschoooling who aren’t that educated, so they can’t be trusted to teach. She said, “If you’re going to homeschool, it needs to be monitored very closely. Very closely.” She later said, “I don’t think it’s an all bad thing. It just needs careful monitoring.”

Roger Parshall said he was a strong supporter of teachers and said people have certain freedoms, homeschooling being one of them. But it needed to be monitored. “We have to monitor this. We can’t let anyone just do this. We gotta make sure our kids are getting an education. I think people should be able to have a choice, if they have the responsibility and if they are monitored. Maybe a test at the end of the year.”

You really should read the whole story. And these folks should read Dr. Brian Ray’s research at the National Homeschool Education Research Institute which show that, time after time, homeschooled children outperform their public school peers. Regular parents, with no special training, actually produce a better outcome than the highly trained professionals at a public school. Candidates should understand why that is before they go around spouting the talking points of, frankly, the left who do not want your child being fed anything but their point of view.

I found the candidates comments very disturbing but, unfortunately, not surprising. I heard similar comments from some in the capitol this last session which only serve to support DESE in decisions like the replacement of the Normandy District School Board and the sweeping changes being brought to Kansas City. The parents there just aren’t qualified to or capable of making the right decisions for their local school. The corollary is the belief that DESE is qualified to make these decisions, a belief which their track record on St. Louis schools just doesn’t support.  Such attitudes also support things like the MSIP attendance goals which are in fact arbitrary, and clearly eliminate parental rights and responsibility for their own children. The state will now determine if your child can stay home because their being in school “serves the public purposes of our nation.”

In our democratic Republic we get what we deserve, or at least what we vote for. It is sad when the field is full of candidates who have not taken the time to educate themselves on the real problems in education and think more central government control and “monitoring” are going to fix things.

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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