In a piece published at Breitbart News and titled, “Don’t Believe the Lies that Ted Cruz Hates Homeschool Freedom,” Homeschool Legal Defense attorneys Will Estrada and Mike Donnelly share their opinion on the growing confusion surrounding Ted Cruz and his education policy.–
Estrada and Donnelly characterize the blogger as a “YUUUUGE” Donald Trump fan. That may be true but that is a distraction from the valid concern many homeschoolers have with Senator Ted Cruz and education legislation he co-sponsored. The social media storm was touched off last fall when homeschoolers learned that Senator Ted Cruz was a co-sponsor of S 306 Enhancing Education Opportunities for All Act. HSLDA attorneys Donnelly and Estrada claim the legislation was designed to “fix the unwarranted discrimination against homeschool families.”
HSLDA and Senator Cruz support the legislation which deems a homeschool a “private school” for the purposes of Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and allows Title I federal dollars to follow the student to a private school. This puts many homeschoolers at odds with both the organization that is supposed to defend them and, if elected, the next President of the United States.
Many homeschoolers disagree with the legislation and the intent to “fix” a perceived wrong. The federal government rarely fixes anything and often makes it worse. A large and growing number of homeschoolers just want to be left alone. We’re not a victim of discrimination. We are families who make the choice to educate our children free from government interference of any kind. That means that we cannot participate in public high school prom and federal education savings accounts. Most accept that trade-offs come with any choice.
In order to end the perceived discrimination, S 306 amends Section 530 of the IRS code to define a family that educates their children at home as a “private school” and allows the “private school” to deduct eligible expenses. Does the federal government have the authority to define a family as a “private school?”
In a conversation with a Cruz campaign official last fall, I was told that Senator Cruz wanted to “help” ease the burden of homeschool families. That is very compassionate. However, Senator Cruz is not running as a compassionate conservative but a constitutional conservative. Any “help” must first be passed through the filter of what is allowed under the Constitution. Senator Cruz has made his touchstone question, “What does the Constitution say?” So I respectfully ask Senator Cruz, “What does the Constitution say about defining a family as a private school?”
Categorizing a family as a private school for the limited purpose of Coverdell concerns many homeschoolers. Education is a state issue. Some states may already define a homeschool as a private school, but education is under their jurisdiction. Any “help” the federal government provides for homeschool expenses could come as they seek to define “eligible education expenses.” Do home educators really want the IRS auditing homeschoolers and deciding if a Bible is a legitimate educational expense? HSLDA attorneys claims this will “fix” the discrimination, I see it as creating a regulatory nightmare based on qualifying receipts.
Along with the Coverdell section, S 306 also amends the Elementary and Secondary Act to allow Title I funding to follow a child to a private school. Senator Cruz defended the policy and called education the “civil rights issue” of our day. Cruz’s desire to help low income families is noble, but once again Senator Cruz is sounding more like a compassionate conservative than a courageous constitutionalist. This expands the role of the federal government into private education at a time when we seek to eliminate it. Respectfully, I ask Senator Cruz, “What does the Constitution say about federal dollars following the child to a private school?”
Some have asserted that S 306 is dead and no longer a concern. I disagree. Bills represent ideas. Unless those ideas are challenged and defeated the idea could find its way back into future legislation. Therefore, the idea must be challenged, not just the bill.
The concern many homeschool parents have with Senator Cruz can be summed up in this quote by C. S. Lewis:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
We don’t accuse you of hating homeschoolers, Senator Cruz. It’s actually the opposite. We worry that you want to “help” us a little too much.
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” – Ronald Reagan
Karen Braun is a homeschool mom of six and a strong advocate for educational freedom. She is the lead content writer for the Stop Common Core in Michigan website. Karen has spoken on behalf of educational freedom for over 20 years. Her written work has appeared on the American Thinker, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Crosswalk.com, and other websites. All her opinions are her own. She can be reached via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SpunkyHomeschool.