The all-Republican Texas Supreme Court will decide whether Michael and Laura McIntyre, who were ruled against by an appeals court last year, must teach their children educational basics or be allowed to wait for the Rapture. Travis Gettys, reporting for Raw Story, writes that the appeals court ruled the McIntyres’ were not exempt from state education regulations.
Now the high court will decide whether the parents’ religious beliefs relieve them from ensuring their children receive a quality education, according to the Associated Press.
The McIntyres removed their nine children from a private school in 2004 and used an empty motorcycle dealership they owned with Mr. McIntyre’s brother as a classroom. The brother who shared this information said he never saw the children reading, using computers, or working on mathematics.
“Tracy (McIntyre, Michael’s brother) overheard one of the McIntyre children tell a cousin that they did not need to do schoolwork because they were going to be raptured,” court documents show.
In Texas, home-school families are not required to register with the state or local education officials, nor do they have to teach state-approved standards. But when the McIntyres’ 17-year-old daughter ran away and enrolled in a public high school, she was put in a ninth-grade class because administrators were unsure she could succeed at a higher grade level.
The parents were charged with truancy and not properly educating their children, which caused them to file a lawsuit against the El Paso school district. The district dropped the charges against the McIntyres, but the parents asked for relief under the Texas Education Code, the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (TRFRA), the Texas Constitution, and the United States Constitution.
The state’s approximately 300,000 students could suffer consequences from this case if the appeals court ruling is overturned by the conservative Texas Supreme Court. An overturned decision could mean that the little oversight left in place over the Texas parents who home-school would disappear.
The McIntyres say the El Paso school district is anti-Christian and insist that they have educated their children, reports The Associated Press.
The primary question related to the case is:
“Where is the line between parents’ right to oversee their children’s education and the state’s duty to make sure children are actually getting one?”
Sarah Kaplan of The Washington Post writes that the Texas Homeschool Coalition calls Texas one of the best states in the country for home educators.
Donna Bahorich, who home-schooled her children for some years before placing them in private schools, was appointed to lead the state’s Board of Education in July. Some saw this as evidence that Texas “sides with home-schoolers,” reports the Austin Chronicle.
“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.
KRGV-TV Rio Grande Valley reports that Laura McIntyre explained that she used the same Christian curriculum taught in private El Paso religious schools. The state requires a written curriculum that provides an approved education but does not require home-schooled children to take standardized tests or show any other verification of progress, which makes any mandates authorized unenforceable.