Governor Perry and Parental Rights

Many of my out-of-state friends have asked my opinion of Governor Perry since he has made such a dramatic entrance into the race for the Republican nomination for president of the United States. Since the attack on his conservative credentials has recently focused on what I would consider his position on parental rights, I thought I should give my opinion of him and his record in that regard.

I have known Governor Perry for many years, both professionally and personally. While I have not always agreed with him, he has been the strongest supporter of home schooling and parental rights that we have had in the governor’s office in the 25 years that I have been involved in battling to protect the right of parents to homeschool and to make decisions for their children.

In 2005, during a time when there was a public outcry to increase the funding and number of CPS workers to deal with some high-profile child deaths, Governor Perry responded to home school parents’ complaints that CPS was targeting home school families and harassing them–on the basis of anonymous complaints–simply because they choose to teach their children at home. He personally directed his staff to get me an audience with the new commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services. At the governor’s direction the commissioner adopted a policy, which is still in place today, to clarify that whether or not a family homeschooled was not relevant to CPS investigations of abuse or neglect. There was no political benefit to the governor for taking this position, and it was clear to us that this was a matter of supporting innocent parents and families.

In 2009 he vetoed SB 1440 because it dramatically undermined parental rights and gave broad new power to CPS to remove children from their homes. He was pilloried in the media for this action but praised by parental rights activists in Texas and across the country. That same year he spoke at the THSC Parental Rights Rally at the Capitol and strongly supported our efforts that year and this year to pass the Texas Parental Rights Restoration Act.

Because of his strong record on parental rights and home schooling, THSC PAC endorsed him for reelection in the Republican primary in 2010. In that race his conservative credentials were challenged by one opponent, and he was called too conservative by the other. In fact, the “conventional wisdom” was that if the primary turnout was high he would be defeated by his more moderate challenger. Instead he won a resounding victory against both a sitting US senator and a challenger from the right.

In the general election his Democratic opponent made the argument for requiring the registration of students withdrawing from public school to homeschool, which is something that Governor Perry has steadfastly opposed. He won that election handily.

I defend the right of parents in Texas to homeschool without government intervention or oversight frequently, and my argument focuses on the constitutional, fundamental right of parents to direct the care, control, and upbringing of their children. Governor Perry’s HPV decision was a mistake that he regrets and an aberration in his long record of supporting parents in the ongoing battle against those who believe that the government should make decisions for children over the opinion of fit parents.


  1. Neville says

    "Governor Perry’s HPV decision was a mistake that he regrets"

    Careful about how much wiggle room you give him, there, Tim. I have been paying very close attention to what the Governor says about this matter. He has repeatedly said THIS YEAR that he regrets THE WAY HE WENT ABOUT IMPLEMENTING the Gardasil program. He often says that he "SHOULD HAVE TALKED TO THE LEGISLATURE FIRST" (which is definitely true).

    He has never, to my knowledge, said that he should have LEFT IT TO THE LEGISLATURE.

    The bigger problem, for me, is that last year, in the 2010 Primary, he was asked about this issue, and he said the EXACT OPPOSITE – he said he DID NOT REGRET HIS ACTIONS and would stick by them.

    So, there are 3 possibilities as I see it, and 2 of the 3 are extremely unflattering for the Governor and disconcerting to any voter who cares about having governors and presidents whose word can be trusted. The remaining possibility, and the most charitable to Gov. Perry, is this: He was telling the truth in 2010, and now he does have regrets, but the regrets are over the resulting flap and the political baggage it dumped on him.

  2. timthsc says

    My point remains that he has taken a number of strong actions, not just positions, on behalf of families and parental rights that were not popular with the liberal media and that he didn't have to do.

    His political opponents are trying to paint him as anti-parent when that is clearly not the case.

  3. Neville says

    Yes, he has taken a number of such strong stands, and I applaud him for that.

    His opponents, myself included, should be just as quick to lavish praise on him for his support of homeschool rights and most parental rights as we are to criticize him for the Gardasil (including the wrong-headed "opt-out" red herring) and YFZ/DFPS debacles.

  4. timthsc says

    Some opponents of Governor Perry are trying to make a connection between the HPV issue and the manufacturer of that product by saying that he made the HPV order to benefit the company because of their financial support. A local Houston TV station has reported on the issue from a different perspective that seems to undermine that assertion. See that report at

  5. texsan says

    What I have to say about Perry is that nobody is perfect. There will never be a 100% perfect presidential candidate. You have to pick the best out of the group you are given. List all the positives and negatives of the candidates and then make your choice.

  6. Neville says

    I agree; we MUST thoroughly analyze every candidate and then stand behind the best qualified and most Godly man/woman for the job. That is our duty. The outcome (or miracle) is God's job. Pragmatics in the voting booth is nothing more than men/women usurping God's role.

    As for the Governor's standing as an advocate of parental rights, I also think he really, REALLY fouled up 3 years ago when it came to the DFPS/CPS role in the YFZ/FLDS debacle. Tim Lambert, Kelly Shackelford, and the Texas Supreme Court all agreed that "CPS" was out of control in that matter, but Gov. Perry stood with them (CPS) through the whole thing.

  7. vicki says

    Perry is a man of political position, otherwise he would be consistent in his protection of parental rights. Men of position are the least dependable (and most dangerously deceptive) because if it's not a conviction, it's baseless – other than momentary feeling and therefore able to be bought at the right price. When it's conviction driving a decision, it shows they have an underlying belief system that they can and will defend and we have a candidate already who is proven many times over reliability AND that crucial ingredient – worldview based on convictions that are biblical- Michele Bachmann. I'll take accidental protection of my liberties when offered but I will vote for the one whose daily life exhibits those convictions consistently. Add to that Michele's near spotless record in all areas and principles that have stood the test of DC and one would be insane to choose Perry, who we now know received over $30,000 from Merck. I don't trust him with my daughters OR my country!

  8. Anonymous says

    Rick Perry is like anyone of us in reguard to "changing his mind" or in looking back and seeing that his thoughts or actions were not as well thought out as they may be at a later date.Yes I realize he is a Government Leader and that he "should" think out his words and or deeds more carefully. however he is just a huming being as you & I are and one should consider this fact before being overly judgemental.

  9. James C. Pennington, CPA says

    Public servants are faced with the challenge of balancing fundamental rights, the State's interest and public safety, and will inevitably make decisions that are not ideal. The executive order simply directed HHSC to make rules requiring the vaccine and to make the vaccine available, with an easily accessible OPT-OUT for those having a simple conscientious objection. An executive ordering with an opt-out is little more than a government-endorsed suggestion – hardly a usurpation of parental rights with the full force of state law.

    His veto of SB 1440, on the other hand, dealt a crucial blow to the "child welfare" interests, who seek to infringe on fundamental parental rights on a daily basis. His veto protected the constitutional due process rights of parents facing CPS investigation. This veto put a halt to the ever-increasing power grab by CPS. Those involved in frivolous CPS claims are very grateful for his bold stand on parental rights.

  10. Neville says

    Mr. Pennington,

    Where are you getting your information that the EO provided an "easily accessible opt-out for those having a simple conscientious objection"?

    The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. certainly didn't view it that way. See their contemporary response here:

    And how do you equate the EO with a "suggestion" when Perry himself has said in recent explanations that his intention by making it mandatory was to FORCE insurance companies to pay for these expensive shots (3 shots required over 6 months, total $360 plus possible office visit fees, ref here: )

    I don't deny that the governor has the right to change his mind – I'm glad he changed his mind about participating in the Democratic Party. He apparently even changed his mind about running for the Presidency, less than a year after getting elected as Texas governor based partly on a PROMISE to NOT RUN for the presidency – I'm not glad about that one. But his responses on the Gardasil matter go way beyond that.

    + He admits he didn't originally "consult" the legislature first. "Consult" about what? About usurping their legislative role in government?
    + He entered the POTUS race claiming he takes pride in "listening" when he is corrected, and that even back then he agreed with the Legislature's decision. Really? In February of 2007, his office made this statement: “The order is effective until Perry or a successor changes it, and the Legislature has no authority to repeal it."
    + When this came up in 2010 during the gubernatorial primary, Perry said he "…had no regrets" about the actions he took regarding the Gardasil matter.
    + Conveniently, by his first 2012-POTUS-debates, he had grown some regrets about not "talking to the Legislature first". Note: No mention was made of regrets about legislating by fiat and stepping outside his constitutional role.
    + Now he has gone on record saying that he "shouldn't have done it by executive order."
    + He has repeatedly and condescendingly claimed that his "opt-out" provision made it all a non-issue anyway, and implied that anyone who couldn't understand that was simply not intelligent. (this is a childish and oft-repeated theme when Perry is challenged on a subject – "I just don't how I can make it any clearer for you, ")
    + Then, finally, in a response at the Florida debate, we learned that he has changed his mind again, when he said he "should have made it an opt-in".

    How many times is this man going to change his mind on this thing before people wise up?

  11. James C. Pennington, CPA says

    I get my information from the executive order itself (RP 65):

    "Parents’ Rights. The Department of State Health Services will, in order to protect the right of parents to be the final authority on their children’s health care, modify the current process in order to allow parents to submit a request for a conscientious objection affidavit form via the Internet while maintaining privacy safeguards under current law."

    The EO provided for submission of the affidavit online.

    The description of the process by websites which may or may not have a political agenda, does not seem to be entirely correct.

    For the record, I do not support Governor Perry's issuance of the Executive Order. However, since the Governor does not have a pervasive pattern of infringing on parental rights, nor does he seem to have an agenda to impose a federal vaccine requirement, it seems this is a very minor, non-issue in the selection of a Republican nominee when there are issues of far greater importance facing our Republic.

  12. Neville says

    Mr. Pennington,

    The EO language, indeed, sounds simple enough (even if it is backward-thinking). But I am curious whether you read the AAPS position/analysis statement on it, and (if so) what you thought of it.

    I think Perry has a mixed record on parental rights. He has been helpful to homeschoolers, for sure. I like that. Vetoing SB1440 was a good thing, too.

    He still hasn't backed off on his shocking support of CPS in the YFZ debacle, even though a great many constitutional conservatives and supporters of parental rights blasted CPS' actions and Perry's position. He probably won't have to face up to that one in the primary, though, as it would too easily be spun as "look, he hates Mormons" (which I don't think is true). So, he'll unfortunately get a pass on that one, when he really needs to be called to account for backing CPS' outrageous and (per the TX Supreme Court) illegal actions.

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