Laura McIntyre addressing El Paso rally.
Laura McIntyre is sure her 9 kids will be with Jesus soon and doesn’t have to worry about their education.

Now honestly, if Hollywood made a movie about conservative Christians in Texas refusing to provide their kids with a rudimentary education because they are sure the imminent Rapture make education unnecessary, can you imagine the hue and cry that would go up from Fox Noise and other conservative media outlets about liberal Hollywood mocking the beliefs of good Christians?  And if an African-American lesbian couple announced that they don’t approve of “formal education” for their kids, don’t you think holy rollers like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee would have a PR orgasm using such a story to denigrate marriage equality?   In the meantime, you can be sure that Tea-Party conservatives in this country are going to defend these irresponsible heterosexual, white Christian parents on grounds of religious freedom.

(Reprinted from the Dallas Morning News)

Home schooling, rapture figure into Texas Supreme Court case

AUSTIN — Laura McIntyre began educating her nine children more than a decade ago inside a vacant office at an El Paso motorcycle dealership she ran with her husband and other relatives.

Now the family is embroiled in a legal battle the Texas Supreme Court hears Monday that could have broad implications on the nation’s booming home-school ranks. The McIntyres are accused of failing to teach their children educational basics because they were waiting to be transported to heaven with the second coming of Jesus Christ.

At issue: Where do religious liberty and parental rights to educate one’s children stop and obligations to ensure home-schooled students ever actually learn something begin?

“Parents should be allowed to decide how to educate their children, not whether to educate their children,” said Rachel Coleman, executive director of the Massachusetts-based Coalition for Responsible Home Education.

Like other Texas home-school parents, Laura and Michael McIntyre weren’t required to register with state or local education officials. They also didn’t have to teach state-approved curriculums or give standardized tests.

But problems began when the dealership’s co-owner and Michael’s twin brother, Tracy, reported never seeing the children reading, working on math, using computers or doing much of anything educational except singing and playing instruments. He said he heard one of them say learning was unnecessary since “they were going to be raptured.”

Then, 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, because officials weren’t sure she could handle higher-level work.

The El Paso school district eventually asked the McIntyres to provide proof that their children were being properly educated and even filed truancy charges that were later dropped. The family sued, and an appeals court ruled against them, but now the case goes to the all-Republican state Supreme Court.

In court filings, the McIntyres say the district is biased against Christians and accuse its officials of mounting a “startling assertion of sweeping governmental power.”

Most of her children are now grown, but Laura McIntyre is still home-schooling her youngest.

“We are definitely looking for a little clarification,” Laura McIntyre said briefly by phone. She, her husband and other relatives subsequently didn’t return messages seeking further comment.

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. She and her husband also say that a separate legal dispute between them and Tracy McIntyre for control of the now-defunct motorcycle dealership made him a biased witness.

Nearly half the states require some form of assessment of home-school students, usually by standardized tests or student portfolios. Less than a dozen require that home-school families record assessments with state agencies to ensure progress, said the Coalition for Responsible Home Education.

State lawmakers in Arkansas this year repealed a law mandating that home-school students take nationally recognized standardized tests, and Utah removed academic requirements from its home-school students in 2014. Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire and Minnesota have also recently moved to relax home-school standards.

“Part of the problem is, on the political right they’ll remove oversight to score points with their base and there isn’t a strong enough opposition to that on the other side,” said Coleman, who was home-schooled in her native Indiana. “This happens especially in states where their legislatures are more conservative.”

Stephen Howsley, a Texas Home School Association public policy analyst, calls his state the country’s “most home-school friendly.”

But, depending on the outcome, the McIntyre case could change that.

“No parents have ever prevailed in any reported case on a theory that they have an absolute constitutional right to educate their children in the home,” 8th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Ann Crawford McClure wrote in ruling against the family last year.

Will Weissert