Last week many home schoolers in Dallas and Bedford joined other concerned parents and leaders of the ACLU in rallies protesting the current and proposed daytime curfews in those cities. At a meeting with PEACH (Plano Educational Association of Christian Homeschoolers) in Plano, I heard reports from one mom who reported that 40 home school parents testified against the proposed daytime curfew in a hearing before the Dallas City Council. This mother was surprised that the great number of phone calls from home school parents and testimony to the council did not seem to move the council members to change their position. The same has been true for dozens of parents in Bedford who have publicly opposed the daytime curfew of that city with little results to show for their ongoing efforts since October of 2008.
So what is the problem? In Dallas, one council member said that if this was truly a problem there would be an outcry from those living in Dallas, not just those who live in surrounding areas. Therein lies the problem. Many years ago I came to the startling conclusion that elected officials rarely make decisions based on the facts alone; rather they most often make decisions based on political realities. Political reality is what a majority of the voters who elect people to a particular office support or oppose. Most elected officials have as their main goal to be reelected, and if they become convinced that a majority of the voters support or oppose a measure they will, in most cases, change their opinion to fit that reality to avoid the wrath of voters in the next election.
So as we have heard in Bedford, most council members state that only a handful of home schoolers have a problem with the daytime curfew – and these people do not represent the opinion of a majority of the citizens of that fair city. The Dallas City Council members were essentially saying the same thing when they noted that opposition was coming from outside the city rather than from within it.
How then do we change the opinion of these elected officials? Most will only be convinced if several of those seeking election or reelection to the city councils are defeated at the ballot box in May elections by candidates who oppose the daytime curfews. That should now be the focus of those who wish to see these curfews defeated or repealed.
From a political standpoint, the reason that Texas home schoolers have gained influence in the Texas legislature is their active participation in primaries and general elections. As an example, in a recent special election for the Texas Senate, a political consultant told the Republican candidate in that race that it was critical to her success to have support of the home school community, because the voter turnout in such elections was so low that Republican voters were either pro-lifers, gun rights activists or home schoolers. The candidate recieved the active support of home schoolers and won that election decisively.
However, home schoolers have not generally participated actively in city elections because they have not seen them as important to their freedom to homeschool and have therefore ignored them. That must change. Home schoolers in Texas should talk to candidates (incumbants and challengers) and find out their position on daytime curfews while the campaigns for city council are now underway.
THSC PAC will endorse, at the request of local home schoolers, candidates who oppose daytime curfews and encourage home schoolers in the area to volunteer for these candidates and work hard for their election. City elections are very often low voter turnout affairs and can be influenced dramatically by volunteers who give time and effort for a candidate. The next thirty days will, in many cases, hold the key for the success of efforts to oppose daytime curfews. If candidates who oppose these curfews are elected to city councils, we will have a much better chance to defeat these ordinances and protect our freedom. Home schoolers can make that happen by volunteering in great numbers for candidates who oppose daytime curfews.