What the Senate Candidates Think about Homeschooling

Spring 2022/Matthew McDill

Included in the midterm elections this year is a bid for a US Senate seat from North Carolina. This seat is one of the thirty-four seats in the Senate that will be contested. Republican incumbent US senator Richard Burr, who has served for three terms, will not be seeking re-election. To inform homeschool families in North Carolina about those who will be running for this seat, we have asked all the declared candidates to answer three questions:

  1. What is your view of home education?
  2. Do you believe any changes need to be made to our homeschool laws in NC?
  3. Will you help protect the right of parents to freely teach their children at home?

So far, four of the eleven candidates have responded to our questions. We have not heard from Cheri Beasley, Shannon Bray, Marjorie K. Eastman, Pat McCrory, Rett Newton, Kimrey Rhinehardt, and Mark Walker. In this article, we are including the answers we received in alphabetical order by last name.

Jen Banwart

1) Home education is a natural part of life. Parents are a child’s first teachers. Regardless of the schooling model, my parents always played a critical role in my education, my schooling, and my learning. I believe that the reinforcement, gentle guidance, and juxtaposition of our family’s values and culture provided me with the ability to think critically, to apply rigor and method when seeking truth, and to stand up for the things I believe are right. Any educational model requires a commitment of parents and guardians to some degree of home education, and I respect the rights of individuals to choose what works best for the children in their care.

2) I reached out to North Carolina parents who homeschool for support to answer this question because what really matters is what they think. Responses centered around three issues: whether homeschool parents should pay taxes for public school, whether homeschool students are presently able to participate in public school extracurricular activities like sports, and that communal homeschooling should be permitted (i.e., pods including a few families). Based on this feedback and the sheer amount of participation in answering this question, I would love to see a home education forum or summit to a) provide ground truth to homeschool parents about what the laws in North Carolina are surrounding homeschool issues and b) gather and organize the issues that should go forward for review, comment, and action by legislators.

3) Yes. As with any education model, as long as there are loose measures in place to ensure that students are being properly prepared for a future as capable and productive members of society, parents and guardians should have the freedom to choose whatever educational model is appropriate for their children.

Ted Budd

1) My wife and I are big believers in homeschooling. We homeschooled our three children and found the experience rewarding for all of us. We should always act to make homeschooling easier for parents.

2) I would support legislation that would reduce the costs associated with homeschooling, including allowing parents to deduct homeschooling expenses on their taxes. There are also several regulatory barriers for parents when they choose to homeschool, and I would support legislation easing those requirements.

3) Absolutely. I will fight for every parent’s right to have a say in the education of their children.

Tobias E. LaGrone

Strong families are the linchpin of our country. Parents are the first educators, role models, and heroes that our children encounter. I support creating policies that strengthen the family unit and encourage strong family values. Homeschooling is a powerful tool which can be used to create high character students who view learning as a privilege, a responsibility, and not a burden.

I have worked as a special needs educator and clinical therapist in the public school setting, and I am keenly aware of the complex learning needs of our children. Homeschools are a great example of how individualized learning environments and curriculum implementation empowers our children to succeed wearing shoes that properly fit their educational feet.

The advent of modern technology has empowered parents even more to gain access to a broad array of evidence-based curriculum. As the parents of a now first year law school student, my wife and I understood how important it was for us to be fully engaged in our child’s public school education. Public school educators are not substitutes for strong parental guidance, after school tutoring, and character education. Homeschooling is just that, a home where education is continuously taking place in some form. Hats off to those parents who have made the bold step to fully embrace the challenge, honor, and responsibility of homeschooling.

As your United States Senator, you will have a strong advocate for homeschooling and parental empowerment regarding the education of your child.

Kenneth Harper

1) I strongly support homeschooling. I think that part of what makes homeschooling great is that you’re able to educate your kids without the government’s intervention. Throughout this Senate race, I’ve seen a lot of what goes on in NC schools. A lot of it is revealing. All the way from school safety, which is the biggest concern, to the curriculums being used, and even parental consent in what is done with our children, homeschooling seems to be growing as the better option every day.

2) Currently, there are six critical factors to homeschooling in NC to my knowledge. I believe that the only changes we need are to remove two things. First, providing the required days of instruction. I don’t believe that it is the government’s business or right to dictate to a parent that their child must adhere to a specific schedule to homeschool. The second thing I’d change is the requirement of immunization records. Immunization records should not need to be released to anyone, not even the government. It is between you and your healthcare provider. A large reason why people decide to homeschool is to keep the government out of their lives, so these, I believe, are not necessary and even imposing on families.

3) Absolutely. I strongly support homeschooling, and will use my position to encourage it the best that I can. However, on the federal level, there shouldn’t be any intervention into homeschooling. The federal government doesn’t even have jurisdiction into education according to the constitution. I personally would stand for the Department of Education being completely abolished. Those powers should be left completely for the states to decide.

Matthew McDill and his wife, Dana, homeschool their nine children in Clemmons. Matthew is the executive director for North Carolinians for Home Education and continues to serve as president of the board. Through his ministry, Truth to Freedom (truthtofreedom.org), he teaches and writes about discipleship, marriage, family, parenting, home education, and church. Matthew holds a bachelor’s degree in communication along with two master’s degrees and a doctorate in biblical studies.

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