Here’s an educational dilemma that says a lot about what’s wrong with Texas. The state has about 300,000 students who are being homeschooled — more than 1/6 of the total number in the entire nation. Many of those kids are from fundamentalist Christian families.
The ‘Rapture’ Cancels The Need For An Education
That second fact becomes a problem when parents don’t believe they have to teach their kids anything because the ‘rapture’ will soon take them to be with Jesus. They’ve been able to get away with it in Texas because the state is one of 11 that doesn’t require the registration of homeschooled children. It also doesn’t require any proof that the kids are making progress.
The educational requirements for homeschooling in Texas are so loose that they are unenforceable. While the law says that the curriculum must meet a basic level in reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and citizenship, without a method of showing progress, it’s meaningless.
Eleven years ago, Laura McIntyre started ‘educating’ her nine kids at the family business — a motorcycle dealership in El Paso owned by her husband, Michael McIntyre, and his brother, Tracy. Problems arose with the situation that eventually landed the McIntyres in court.
First of all, Tracy overheard one of the kids saying they didn’t need an education because “they were going to be raptured.” Plus, he never saw them doing any school work, although they did sing and play instruments. So he reported the family to the school district.
The kids’ grandparents, Gene and Shirene McIntyre, also met with school district official Mark Mendoza to express their concerns that the children were not being educated. Mendoza and other officials tried to get confirmation from the McIntyres about the studies they were providing. However, the couple refused to give any information about their curriculum — possibly because there wasn’t one.
A 17-Year-Old Runs Away To Get An Education
The following year, 17-year-old Tori McIntyre ran away from home because she wanted an education, but was unable to provide any information about what level she was at. The El Paso school district put her in 9th grade and asked the family to prove that their kids were getting a basic education. Requests to the parents for cooperation were rebuffed, so the district eventually filed truancy charges.
The McIntyres went to court, asking for “injunctive relief and damages.” In August, they lost the case, but next week their appeal will be heard by the Texas Supreme Court.
In the August decision, Chief Justice Ann Crawford McClure of the 8th Court of Appeals wrote:
“No parents have ever prevailed in any reported case on a theory that they have an absolute constitutional right to educate their children in the home, completely free of any state supervision, regulation, or requirements.”
What Force Does Secular Law Have In The Face Of The ‘Rapture’?
That kind of legal ruling doesn’t stop fundamentalist Christians from acting on their belief that they have a mandate from a ‘higher’ authority, or that the rapture will soon take them away from the secular world.
Rachel Coleman, executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, reinforced the court decision with this logical opinion:
“Parents should be allowed to decide how to educate their children, not whether to educate their children.”
Even Terri Melendez Barnes, founder of the El Paso Liberty Home School Network, agreed with the court that a home school curriculum needs to be verified. It would seem that the McIntyres have nowhere to turn but to their own idiosyncratic ideas but, in fact, there’s a Texas Home School Coalition Association that advises parents not to share information with school districts, other than to ‘verify’ that their children are receiving home schooling.
The McIntyres are arguing in court that the school district is biased against Christians and that its officials are engaging in a “startling assertion of sweeping governmental power” — because the district wants to ensure that the children are actually getting an education.
At this point, only one child remains in the McIntyre household and he is still being home schooled, though no one outside of the family knows what that means. If anyone should be in court for ‘relief’ and ‘damages’, it should be the other eight offspring who have left home. God only knows how well they are surviving without an educational foundation to stand on.