Texas Homeschoolers: We Shouldn’t Have To Educate Our Kids If They’ll Be Raptured Soon Anyways

The parents of nine Texas children are suing the state over the fact that they were asked to educate their children in subjects like math and spelling and not just church hymns and theology. Their argument: Why waste our time on education, when the second coming of Jesus Christ is upon us.

Like many homeschoolers, the McIntyre family in El Paso was given wide latitude in their children’s education. They had almost no oversight from educators. They were never required to follow a curriculum or have their children take standardized tests like children in public (and most private) schools do. The results weren’t pretty: The children learned almost nothing they couldn’t learn in Sunday school.

Even when one of the children tried to flee, the ignorance made escaping the situation difficult. The family’s 17-year-old daughter ran away from home after years of social and educational neglect. The state found a public school to place her in, but while her peers were starting their senior year, she was sent to 9th grade, where educators worried she would struggle to keep up.

Other family members of Michael McIntyre grew concerned, as well. According to Texas’s ABC Affiliate KRGV, her brother reported to the state that his brother and his wife were clearly neglecting their children’s education – and flaunting it.

[P]roblems began when the dealership’s co-owner and Michael’s twin brother, Tracy, reported never seeing the children reading, working on math, using computers or doing much of anything educational except singing and playing instruments. He said he heard one of them say learning was unnecessary since “they were going to be raptured.”

When El Paso school district, the officials that are tentatively meant to keep an eye on homeschoolers in the area, finally began snooping around and asking the McIntyres to prove that they were at least trying to teach their children basic skills, the family sued them for oppressing their right to not educate their children.

The case wound its way to Texas’s Supreme Court, but the McIntyres – having been given almost every concession imaginable – are already slamming the (all-Republican) court as “anti-Christian.” They describe the idea that El Paso school district can inquire about the well-being of their kids as a “startling assertion of sweeping governmental power.” The claim, ludicrous as it is on its face, is made more so by the fact that the state’s ultra-conservative governor recently appointed a Christian homeschooler to lead its board of education. Bending over backwards to Christian homeschoolers appears to be high on Gov. Greg Abbott’s administrative agenda. He certainly isn’t targeting them.

There are legitimate reasons for families to have the option to homeschool, but for many conservative homeschoolers, the choice to keep their children out of school is specifically about limiting what sorts of information the kids can learn. Christians who take the tactic of forced ignorance do so to avoid uncomfortable questions that may undermine their ideological convictions. The effects are almost always damaging to the children, who grow up having learned almost nothing that will equip them to compete in the fast-moving, science and technology driven economy we now live.

Occasionally, the isolation gets so bad that the children have almost no connection with the outside world to speak of. In early 2015, a young woman from – you guessed it – Texas had to fight tooth-and-nail to prove that she was a real person. Her parents had never taken her to the doctors, never bothered to get her a birth certificate or social security number, and never enrolled her in school. When she, like the McIntyre’s 17-year-old daughter, finally fled, she was left with no identity at all.

Rachel Coleman, the executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, says that conservative lawmakers who constantly try to dismantle “big” government own a lion’s share of the blame for this current inability to control homeschoolers from not educating their kids. After all, according to the new fanatics in the conservative movement, government oversight – even in education – is “tyranny.”

“Part of the problem is, on the political right they’ll remove oversight to score points with their base and there isn’t a strong enough opposition to that on the other side,” said Coleman, who was home schooled in her native Indiana. “This happens especially in states where their legislatures are more conservative.”

States like Republican-dominated Texas certainly attest to that theory.

Feature image via Flickr/dcJohn