Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Home schoolers in politics ... a growing force

Generation Joshua.

Do you recognize that organization?

If you are a conservative home schooler, you are probably familiar with the Christian youth program known as Generation Joshua that takes many home school students under its wings to learn civics through hands-on work, often by helping conservative political campaigns throughout the country. Organized by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a majority of its participants are home school students including a number of SWAC area home schoolers who have been a part of Generation Joshua since its beginning in 2004, working campaigns throughout the country.

Did you vote for Ken Cuccinelli for AG at the recent RPV convention in Richmond?

If you are a conservative home schooler in Virginia, you probably supported the state senator who is a home school dad of seven. Home schoolers throughout the state worked on his campaign and may have made a difference in pushing him over the top in that race.

Home schoolers in politics ... some think it a new phenomenon. But it's not so new. A 2003 World Net Daily article discusses what was then considered the "new" political force.

At last weekend's annual Home Educators of Virginia (HEAV) convention, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling was to address the attendees.

Willie over at Virginia Social Conservative has a post about an article in the Washington Times describing home schoolers' involvement in politics. The article points out that it is not unusual for entire families to become politically involved because parents are activists by the very fact that they home educate ... many were involved in the process to gain the freedom to educate their children at home.

In the SWAC area, home school parents have been involved in politics since the 1990s. In 2000, home school students in the local SWAC area home school group gathered to work for Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush by constructing yard signs and distributing literature.

In 2001 the SWAC area home schoolers helped with candidate Chris Saxman's campaign for delegate. In 2004 they came out in droves to work for President George W. Bush's reelection by going door-to-door, working headquarters, sign waves on the streets of Staunton, phone banking, sign construction and distribution.

In 2005, home schoolers were there for the Jerry Kilgore for governor campaign; in 2006 they were on board for the George Allen reelection campaign as well as the Marriage Amendment.

SWAC area home school TARs (Teenage Republicans) have been busy the past decade, along with their parents and younger siblings, helping Republican candidates. They have stood up for local social issues such as Support the Troops rallies since 2003; rallying to save Weekday Religious Education in 2005; passage of the Marriage Amendment in 2006; and they got on board for the passage of adult ordinances in 2007 (Staunton) and 2008 (Augusta County) when an adult business opened in Staunton.

Not only do home schoolers work political campaigns, they vote. Students are encouraged to register to vote as soon as they are old enough.

A 2004 report by Homeschool World compares the general population versus home schoolers when it comes to voting:
Unfortunately, today's young people exhibit a disturbing lack of interest in government and politics. A 2003 CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll shows that voters under the age of 30 are far less likely to vote than those who are over 30. A current population survey revealed that only 36.1 percent of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2000 presidential election, compared to 59.5 percent of the general population.

Why the low voter turnout for this age group? Why the apathy? Well, habits of civic involvement are formed long before a person reaches the age of 18. If a student is engaged and involved before 18, chances are that trend will continue on into the adult years. But if a young person is not given an opportunity to participate in civic activities, he or she is less likely to be interested upon reaching adulthood.

In contrast to national trends, homeschool students and graduates tend to be very active in government and politics. Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute conducted a study of adults who were homeschooled to evaluate how well they fit into society. He found that homeschoolers are far more likely to be politically active. A full 74 percent of 18-24 year old homeschooled adults have voted in a national election in the last five years. When asked if politics and government are too complicated to understand, 35 percent of the general U.S. population said yes, while only 4.2 percent of homeschool graduates agree. Homeschool graduates in every age group are more likely to contribute money to a candidate, work for a political cause, attend public meetings, and write to an editor or official to express their opinions.

This finding that homeschool graduates are engaged in local and national governments is not surprising when you consider the examples of parents who fought for their right to homeschool all through the child's school years.
Home schoolers appear to be a growing political force, a trend that will most likely continue in the future.

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