HOUSTON – U.S. Senator Ted Cruz announced this week in Iowa the formation of a new coalition supporting his presidential bid in 2016 – Homeschoolers for Cruz 2016.
The group represents homeschool communities across the country who are dissatisfied with their local school districts, the recent implementation of Common Core, or just wish to be more involved in their children’s upbringing.
“The federal government does not have any role in dictating the content of curricula. Education is a state and local issue and parents should have direct input and control of what’s being taught to their children. The single most important thing in a child’s education is parental involvement,” Cruz said.
“If you or I disagree with what some bureaucrat in the federal Department of Education says, you can’t change that, and that is not the way it should be. I have great faith in the leaders of this coalition, and the passionate supporters of homeschooling who are uniting for this cause – to take back power from the Washington Cartel and to restore choice to the people who know our students best: parents.”
The new coalition started out with 6,670 members, and will be co-chaired by Marlin Bontrager, William Estrada, and Vicki Crawford.
Cruz' campaign has been touted by numerous political pundits as a following traditional campaign strategies, by forming coalitions, organizing voter registrations at conservative churches and reaching out to groups that have been more recently ignored in the past few presidential campaigns.
This coalition, while seeming to be small, was a powerful, energized tool in the Bush 2000 campaign.
Homeschoolers for Bush 2000
Illinois homeschoolers originated a similar coalition for George W. Bush in 2000, in response to a sarcastic communication Vice President Al Gore's campaign released about homeschoolers – suggesting that he would work to make homeschooling illegal if elected president.
A homeschooling mom wrote to George W. Bush after seeing Gore's comments, and asked his position on homeschooling. Bush responded with a letter lauding parents that had chosen homeschooling, saying the Bible taught parents to "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Seeing that reply was all the Illinois moms needed to get involved in the 2000 election.
One of the organizing moms, Carol Severson of Malden, is now a grandmother and the kids she was teaching in 2000 are grown. She was delighted to hear the coalition was reforming in 2016.
"That is amazing. I am so glad it is continuing on," she said. "If they need anything I still have the plan we used…"
Setting up a website on an obscure Comcast URL, one by one, homeschooling families discovered the Homeschoolers for Bush coalition and the Bush campaign approved their association. The Illinois homeschooling moms developed a suggested curriculum for homeschoolers to use and developed a point system for projects completed during the last six weeks of the campaign.
Each day thousands of families would download curriculum ideas for the whole family that were fun and educational for their students – from preschool levels through high school. The ideas consisted of reading, making signs and setting up pro-Bush rallies, learning about the candidates' platforms, studying polling and debating, even organizing mock elections.
Sue Ellen Pratt of Arlington, Illinois and her family was also involved in the effort.
"It's hard to believe that it was 16 years ago that we pulled out the Homeschoolers for Bush. That was an exciting time and great experience – a wonderful way to get involved in a Presidential campaign," Pratt told Illinois Review.
"In all honesty, my kids still talk about it, as do the other students and parents in our local group. It was not only a good learning experience on politics and the Presidential campaign, but it helped unite and invigorate everyone involved.
"My kids have been involved in politics for as long as they can remember, not necessarily by their choice but because I've been involved, Pratt, now a busy grandmother, said. "Homeschoolers for Bush is what I believe is their best memory of involvement."
After the long wait of the final vote count in Florida that year, in recognition for the work completed, the newly-elected George W. Bush sent the homeschool study participants letters thanking them for their work – a thrill for each child that was involved to receive.
At final count, the Illinois homeschooling organizers said every state in the union was represented, adding up to an approximate 10,000 students.
Cruz' video introducing the homeschool coalition: