Texas court considers whether homeschooled kids have to learn anything at all

Texas’s Supreme Court is set to hear a case that will determine whether parents have a right to teach their homeschooled kids nothing at all.

Laura and Michael McIntrye, El Paso parents with a deeply-held religious belief that they don’t need to teach their children anything because the Rapture is coming soon, appealed to the judicial system after their local school district asked them to provide proof that their children were receiving some kind of education. Under Texas law, they were allowed to teach their children pretty much whatever they wanted, as long as they taught them something along the lines of reading, writing and math. The family appealed, lost and appealed again, putting their case before the all-Republican high court in the state.

According to the Associated Press, “the family’s eldest daughter, 17-year-old Tori, ran away from home saying she wanted to return to school. She was placed in ninth grade, since officials weren’t sure she could handle higher-level work.”

Open Bible, via Shutterstock

Open Bible, via Shutterstock

In their defense of their right to keep their children ignorant of everything except their coming ascent to Heaven, the McIntyres are claiming that the school district is — shockingly — biased against Christians. As the AP continues, “McIntyre said in court filings that she used a Christian curriculum to home school that was the same taught in the private El Paso religious schools her children attended before she began home schooling them in 2004.” If that curriculum is alright for private schools, why shouldn’t it work for private homes?

Which would be a sound argument, if it were true. But Michael McIntrye’s brother, Tracy, is saying that the family wasn’t even teaching their children that much. In his telling, the kids’ education consisted entirely of playing music, and one of the parents said that additional learning was unnecessary because “they were going to be raptured.”

This all sounds ridiculous, but in Texas it’s entirely possible that the McIntyres have a case. Not only is Texas one of just eleven states in which parents are not required to report to the state that they have taken their children out of the school system, it is one of just fourteen states with no set subject requirements for homeschooled children. Instead, it requires that parents adhere to a curriculum that is “designed to meet basic educational goals,” but even with that vague standard in place, the state doesn’t require students to prove any semblance of education attainment or go through any sort of testing or reporting. In other words, what few standards Texas does put on its homeschoolers have no enforcement mechanism. And the McIntyres are fighting to keep it that way.

So, depending on which account of the McIntrye’s homeschooling practices the Texas Supreme Court believes, Texans could soon have the right to teach their children practically nothing at all, so long as they claim that they are doing it all for Jesus and how dare you suggest they need to prove otherwise.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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38 Responses to “Texas court considers whether homeschooled kids have to learn anything at all”

  1. Baal says:

    Compulsory education has been a law in the US for a really long time. It is part of the reason we are not a third world country (yet).

  2. TruthNotReligion says:

    The more ignorant and Christian kids are when are growing up, the more likely they are to grow up to be . . .

    “traditional, Family Values, Christian Conservatives”

    . . . who believe that the Universe came about in 6 days. And who believe that the SUN revolves around the EARTH:


  3. therling says:

    Gee, then why even have a K-12 education system if all they need to do is take a few remedial courses at a community college?

  4. olandp says:

    They have the option to send their children to public schools at any time they want. I can just about assure you that they don’t pay anywhere near enough in property taxes (that go to schools) to pay for a quality private school education. Probably not even enough for a crappy private school education.

  5. mike31c says:

    That’s right TexASS. Keep your kids stupid and ignorant.

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  7. Grover says:

    If a shitty education = child abuse, there should be a lot of public school teachers and administrators and school board members sitting in jail.

    A kid can learn how to read in less than a year. A smart kid can learn to read at a 5th grade level in less than two.

    Even if a homeschool kid had a shoddy education from K – 12, if he or she is bright enough, they can quickly catch up to the average publicly-educated student. GED programs are a cakewalk.

    A couple of years in a community college, and then they can easily be accepted to any number of 4-year colleges throughout the nation to complete their degree.

  8. Calvinius says:

    Since when do Americans’ civil rights extend to child abuse?

  9. Grover says:

    Nope. Changing the laws requires violating civil rights.

    Sometimes you just cannot legislate away problems. You can only deal with them in a realistic and practical manner.

    The laws certainly aren’t stopping public schools from churning out complete [email protected]

  10. Grover says:

    I remember loving math. And in middle school I wanted to jump ahead, but the book was the most convoluted p.o.s. And that was nearly 20 years ago. Can’t blame it all on Texas.

    But textbooks are not the real issue here. Most kids don’t even read them anyway.

  11. mf_roe says:

    Texas basically tells the system what textbooks to offer schools in other states. MOST older Americans wouldn’t recognize the drek that is pushed down the throats of American youth.

  12. mf_roe says:

    It’s been at least two generations since public education has served the interests of the students. Bible thumpers are a big part of the problem, but so is the educational infrastructure that doesn’t want to examine its failures to remove poor teachers and worthless programs. The BUSINESS of education is even more of a cause as they reap huge profits for questionable products and services and want to keep that money coming.

  13. emjayay says:

    Misplaced from the Chick Fill Aye post?

  14. Demosthenes says:

    I know. I was bloviating.

  15. Baal says:

    Or change the laws in Texas that allow this to happen.

  16. Grover says:

    Yeah, and public assistance is “mandatory” in the sense that you can’t discriminate based on parents’ educational choices.

  17. Demosthenes says:

    Additional response: their withdrawal from the public schools is a voluntary act. Real estate taxes are mandatory. As it is with people sending their children to parochial or other private schools, these people have to, as a matter of law, continue paying real estate taxes.

  18. Grover says:

    Well, actually, kids don’t have the right to an easy life or even a top-notch education (if they were, all kids would be getting an education on par with Sidwell Friends–the Obama girls’ school).

    Where are the lawsuits against the public schools that are not adequately preparing teens for college? Where are the lawsuits against the public schools for wasting years of kids’ lives while they still read at an 8th grade level or less despite getting handed a diploma?

    Community colleges and Job Corp offer remedial programs for teens who for whatever reason were disadvantaged in life. And realistically that is the best we can do.

  19. Demosthenes says:

    I was being snippy. I am rather moody on Mondays.

  20. Grover says:

    You implied it by posing a negotiation of sorts.

  21. Grover says:

    Actually, there are other states where parents are not answerable to the government at all when it comes to education. My state is one of them. And we like it that way…especially when many children are graduating from the public high schools with about the same level of education as those homeschooled kids in this TX case.

  22. Demosthenes says:

    Who said I was trying to be fair?


  23. Grover says:

    Except those dimwits probably pay property taxes that go to the local public schools, and they never get that money refunded even though they are not sending their children to those schools. You can withhold public assistance as long as you don’t force them to pay for public schools. All’s fair, you know.

  24. Grover says:

    In the end, the “solutions” to prevent this rare situation from occurring requires stomping all over Americans’ civil rights.

    There are many high school graduates who still read at an 8th grade level or less (heck, a 5th grade level), and those are kids who attended public school from K – 12th grade.

    The best solution is to provide remedial education courses through community colleges for young adults who did not get an adequate K-12 education, whether that’s the fault of parents or the public schools. And as far as I am aware, community colleges all over the country already have such programs.

  25. Demosthenes says:

    How about this deal: these dimwits can refuse to educate their children in exchange for them being ineligible to collect any public assistance, since illiterate yahoos typically can’t get jobs.

  26. Indigo says:

    You have the right to remain ignorant. Regardless, you will be held responsible for scientific facts and subject to the law of gravity, whether you understand it or not.

  27. Quilla says:

    Child abuse, pure and simple.

    But, Because Texas, this foolishness is actually being taken seriously…??…!!

    Can’t wrap my head around this one.

  28. nicho says:

    “Never did hear of any unmanned cars causing accidents.”

    Where do you think these Google self-driving cars come from?

  29. JaneE says:

    At some point the parents will not be able to support them. I hope the kids got enough basic education to get some kind of job, or that they play music well enough to make money at it, because it is not likely that they will be able to hold any kind of decent paying job.

  30. JaneE says:

    About 40-50 years ago, about a dozen cars in my neighborhood started sporting bumper stickers that read “Warning: in case of Rapture this car will be unmanned”. Never did hear of any unmanned cars causing accidents.

  31. Baal says:

    What about the rights of the kids to not be put at this kind of disadvantage in life when the rapture doesn’t come and, at some point, they have to be on their own.

  32. nicho says:

    I use to work with a woman whose husband was a roofer. He had relatives whose roof was leaking, and they asked him to replace it. He explained that there were different qualities of roofing. One had a 10-year warranty and another had a 20-year warranty. They wanted to know if there was a cheaper one with a five-year warranty, because they were going to be raptured before that.

  33. MoonDragon says:

    But it’s only in the last 60 or so years that TV preachers have reached many of these people and assured them they aren’t dumbasses. They are so grateful that they give so much money to the preachers who then tell them to keep the kids away from the influence of education (exposing the parents as dumbasses) and the kids in turn will fork over big bucks to the preachers who will then assure them that they aren’t dumbasses and they must keep their kids away from education . . . lather, rinse, repeat.

  34. BeccaM says:

    This is child abuse, and it stems from the Christian Biblical belief — an unconscious cultural assumption — that children are the property of their parents, with no restrictions or obligations regarding how those kids are to be treated.

    The McIntyres aren’t even claiming they’re somehow commanded by their religious beliefs to raise their children to be the intellectual equivalent of turnips. They simply didn’t want to bother. It’s sheer laziness and sloth — at the expense of these kids’ entire futures.

  35. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Reading through this had me wondering how parents can do this to their children. Someone has always been expecting the Rapture for 2000 years.

  36. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    What is this?

  37. nicho says:

    Oh, these kids will be raptured alright, but not by whom the parents think.

  38. 2karmanot says:

    Capons are ungodly and Chick is feeding abominations to helpless haters!

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