The right wing war on education continues. One of the most active organizations in the right wing’s fight against Common Core is the Home School Legal Defense Association. On the surface, this does not make sense. Why should the HSLDA a group for home schooling parents, care so much about standards that don’t apply to them?
We know why right wing twiddle dumbs like Glenn Beck hate common core. Educated people ask hard questions and expect answers based on facts and reality. Jingoistic hate speech is recognized for what it is. They won’t accept answers like “just believe.”
This presents a problem to authoritarian conservatives who believe that people who ask hard questions are persecuting them and people who think for themselves are a threat to their freedom to promote ignorance and hatred.
Even if GOPT lawmakers don’t know that common core is a state program to establish literacy and numeracy standards for schools within the state, they do know that opposing it keeps the Koch money coming in. Even if GOPT lawmakers know that common core does not apply to home schools, they will stoke the fears of unknowing parents to avoid the indignity of being Tea Party challenged Still, this doesn’t explain why an organization that works to defend the rights of homeschooling parents dedicated its time and resources to be one of common core’s most zealous opponents.
What does any of this have to do with the HSLDA? The short answer is it should have nothing to do with an organization that purportedly protects the rights and interests of homeschooling parents. The reality is the HSLDA is just another front group for the religious right. Once you understand that the HSLDA is an organization controlled by religious conservatives dedicated to advancing religious conservative ideals, the reasons the HSLDA fights so hard against common core become self-evident.
This is where the political history of its founder, Michael Farris becomes important. Farris joined J. Michael Smith to establish the HSLDA. Before that, Farris earned his credentials as a right wing fear monger while fighting passage of the ERA alongside Phyllis Schlafly and as a state-director for Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority.”
The HSLDA is a fundraising mechanism for right wing extremists and its primary objective is to advance the right wing agenda. Much of HSLDA’s activities have as much to do with advocacy for homeschoolers as the activities of Teabaggers in Congress have to do with addressing the American people’s needs and concerns.
The HSLDA uses its stated objective of protecting the rights of homeschoolers to advance the indoctrination of future right wing zealots. Much of its efforts and resources are used to advance right wing causes that have nothing to do with homeschooling or education. The HSLDA is part of the fight against birth control and same sex marriage. It lobbied against ratification of treaties, including U.N. Conventions on the Rights of the Child, the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The HSLDA also joined with Hobby Lobby and others to give corporations the power over women’s reproductive rights.
In the name of keeping a hold on their membership and with it the assurance that money will continue to flow its way, the HSLDA needs to give its members a reason to stay. That is where Common Core comes in. The HSLDA exploits its members’ fear of government using the same tactics employed by the NRA, the Tea Party and any other extreme right wing organization. Instead of saying the Federal government is coming after their guns, the HSLDA tells parents the Federal Government is coming after their hard fought freedom to homeschool. The organization’s website contains a fear-mongering article called “Will the Common Core impact homeschools and private schools.” Let’s just say the article is about as factual as the content on any other right wing website. The HSLDA relies on three main arguments to persuade its members the Federal government is coming after homeschooling and homeschoolers.
First, it claims, “Perhaps the most immediate threat to homeschool and private school students is the expansion of statewide longitudinal databases.” The article goes on to exploit the already fostered fears about the Federal government invading privacy and then it goes for the jugular.
It is utterly impossible to believe that these databases will not be mined and misused to serve the ulterior purposes of a centralized government intent on growing its own power.
The article goes on to instill the fear that common core threatens children’s post-secondary educational opportunities. It postulates that standardized tests will be aligned with Common Core. Children whose parents don’t use the Common Core curricula will do poorly on standardized tests and therefore will not get into college. Moreover, the article claims the government is pressuring colleges to alter their tests in conformity with common core curriculum.
Then the article resorts to the homeschool version of Animal Farm tactics. Children who take those examinations might “soon encounter progressive ideologies including social engineering and alternative life styles.”
If the parents knew that, in reality, states establish the common core standards for their state, they would not have a reason to pay the HSLDA a peace of mind fee to fend off the big bad Federal government. In the end, that is why the GOPT is anti-education. Education enables people to think critically, ask questions and fact check. An educated population would recognize that the GOPT and its satellite groups serve the usual puppet masters to the detriment of everyone else in America.
However, the parents who joined this organization are paying the HSLDA not only to act against their own interests, but also the interests of their children.
In other words, the HSLDA is just another right wing front group that sells empty promises they have no intention of keeping in exchange for money to advance ideas and policies that harms its members and their members’ children.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.