The Texas Supreme Court has just exploited a technicality to avoid ruling on whether religious extremists Michael and Laura McIntyre can continue homeschooling their children without teaching them anything, effectively allowing them to continue until a lower court comes up with a ruling that can withstand appeals. The McIntyres’ reasoning is that the second coming of Christ is near so there is little point in traditional education.
An uncle reported to the El Paso school district that he had noticed the children weren’t in engaging in any educational activities, except perhaps religious education which the McIntyre’s modeled off of Christian schools in the area. He had also overheard one McIntyre child say to a cousin that, “they did not need to do schoolwork because they were going to be raptured.”
The district attendance officer, Michael Mendoza, asked the McIntyre’s for evidence that they were educating their children. However, as it transpires homeschooling parents in Texas are required to meet “basic educational goals,” they are not required to provide any evidence of their children’s learning. The McIntyre’s were so offended by Mendoza that they sued the district for being unlawfully anti-Christian.
Apparently the religious right-wing construes forcing Christian parents to teach their children useful subjects like math and English as “anti-Christian” if the parents refuse for “religious” reasons. Let us assume for the moment that the rapture is not in the imminent future; if the McIntyres are wrong about divine timing, their children will reach adulthood and be unable to work anywhere but the most unskilled jobs. Their opportunities will be hopelessly restricted. Texas does not even grant a diploma to homeschooled children – and rightly so if they don’t have to actually learn any high school curriculum.
The Associated Press reported that, “the family’s eldest daughter, 17-year-old Tori, ran away from home in 2006 so she could return to school. The El Paso district put her in the ninth grade because officials weren’t sure she could handle higher grade-level work.” Most teenagers moan about school because they are forced to go, but Tori abandoned her family and her home because she was desperate for an education that would open up her future.
The Supreme Court ruled that Mendoza and the El Paso district were not “anti-Christian” in any way that violated the McIntyres’ rights to equal treatment outlined in the Fourteenth Amendment. However, it refused to take the opportunity to comment on whether the McIntyre’s are obligated to teach their “homeschooled” children anything of actual educational value.
Parents have a right to give their children a religious education, but they should not have the right to deny their children a standard education, condemning them to a life of unskilled work, unemployment, and poverty. “Waiting for Jesus” is no excuse for neglecting your children. Perpetually backwards Texas Republicans needs to acknowledge that “homeschooling” without teaching is just letting your kid stay home and skip school.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.