Ken and Angela Paxton: A Family for Educational Choice

In Texas, Ken Paxton is running for attorney general with the slogan “Proven Conservative Courage.” More than a politician, though, Paxton understands that Texas is a keystone for freedom in the United States, and that the 10th Amendment is a fundamental part of that freedom. Last month, he spoke at the Red State Gathering (you can watch the full speech here), and spoke frankly about the Constitution.

When he joined the Texas legislature 12 years ago, they mostly focused on state issues and law but, once Obama was elected, he says, all of that changed. “For all the time that Obama’s been in office,” Paxton said, “I’ve been trying to find something that he’s contributed good to our country, and now I’ve found it: he’s at least forced us to assert the 10th Amendment.” Paxton has now given up a safe Senate Seat in order to run for attorney general to ensure that the federal government doesn’t mess with Texas. One of the issues especially close to the Paxton family is education.

Paxton’s endorsement from Tim Lambert of the Texas Home School Coalition speaks volumes. “I support Senator Paxton for Attorney General because he is one of those rare legislators who is truly conservative and willing to fight for legislation that advances limited government, life, and individual freedom,” he said,  “As an advocate for home schooling and parental rights, I particularly appreciate that he has demonstrated on many occasions his strong support for the fundamental right of parents to direct the care, control, and upbringing of their children.” Ken Paxton doesn’t just give lip service to educational choice, his family has walked the walk.

At the Red State Gathering, Paxton talked about his family: his wife Angela, and four children (3 teenaged daughters and a 21 year-old son).  What many may not have realized, however, is that this family has tried various different types of education for their own children, so they really do understand that education is not one-size-fits-all. Choice matters, and must be available to all families.

Teaching runs deep in the Paxton family. Angela and Ken both had educators for mothers, and Angela knew it was always something that interested her as well from an early age. After college, she went into education, and is now a guidance counselor. Add in the fact that they are the parents of of four, and one begins to see that they have a unique perspective on education in America.

Growing up “I didn’t know anyone who went to private school,” said Angela, “school was public school.” When the Paxtons’ eldest child was 4, though, they knew that there were other options. Ken and Angela began discussing these, and decided to homeschool for kindergarten. They liked it so much that all four children began their education in the same way.

When Ken entered the legislature, with the unpredictable schedule that comes along with it, their children were 9,7,5, and 3. The family decided that the children needed more structure as they got older and tried the university model before landing in Christian school- the same Christian school where Angela is now a guidance counselor. They do not take this ability to try a variety of different schools for granted. “I’m glad we were able to approach it with ‘whatever is best for our kids.’” said Angela, who added that each of the models “have enriched our kids.”

She also realizes that not all families have these options or, if they do, are not aware of them. As education, said Angela, is “something that effects almost every family,” this needs to change. Parents need to be empowered. She credits a rise in homeschooling around America with reminding parents that the education of their children is up to them, so every parent “should make a deliberate choice on how to educate (their) children.”

School districts defined by geography do not work in the best interests of the children attending, as they don’t “take into account different kinds of kids or their needs,” said Angela, continuing that it is up to parents to know their children and “know where they will flourish.” This ability to choose the best school for one’s child is, of course, also a responsibility, and one that the federal government frequently wants to take from the citizens, who wants to enforce a one-size-fits-all solution to so many facets of our lives.

As human beings, said Angela “we like to have choices, we like to have some personal control over our destiny…and the partner to control is responsibility…you end up with a society that is more responsible when you give people choices and let them live with those choices.” While this seems like a simple enough recipe for a healthy society, “there are always people,” she said, “who think they know what’s best, and they want to control everyone else’s decisions.” This is why it’s important to fight for the expansion of school choice. The kids who are in school today will be the voters of tomorrow, and it should be up to the parents to ensure that they are educated in the best way possible, even if it means putting yourself on the line.

“I’m all in,” said Ken Paxton, “and I’m asking you all to be all in, because we’re at a point in our history where we have to be all in or we’re going to lose it all.”

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