Monday, January 5, 2015

A front-page story... the Times this morning, "Home Schooling: More Pupils, Less Regulation," makes me wonder if the conventional wisdom on the 2016 Republican presidential race is all wrong.

Huh? What? And why do I have a picture of Mike Huckabee and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus at the top of this post?

First, from the article on home schooling (all emphasis mine): 

Unlike so much of education in this country, teaching at home is broadly unregulated. Along with steady growth in home schooling has come a spirited debate and lobbying war over how much oversight such education requires.

Eleven states do not require families to register with any school district or state agency that they are teaching their children at home, according to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, a nonprofit group that is pushing for more accountability in home schooling. Fourteen states do not specify any subjects that families must teach, and only nine states require that parents have at least a high school diploma or equivalent in order to teach their children. In half the states, children who are taught at home never have to take a standardized test or be subject to any sort of formal outside assessment.

And the movement is growing. Once mainly concentrated among religious families as well as parents who wanted to release their children from the strictures of traditional classrooms, home schooling is now attracting parents who want to escape the testing and curriculums that have come along with the Common Core, new academic standards that have been adopted by more than 40 states.

(By the way, watch out for that term, "Common Core." It's going to be a big topic in the Republican primaries.)

Okay, so where does Mike Huckabee fit into all this? From an article way back in 2007, "Huckabee Draws Support of Home-School Families":

White, evangelical Christians make up about 38 percent of the Republican electorate in Iowa. Among voters in that group, Mr. Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister and the former governor of Arkansas, leads his closest competitor, Mitt Romney, by two to one, according to a poll released this month by the Pew Research Center.

While there are no official statistics on how many of Mr. Huckabee’s evangelical supporters are home-school proponents like the Hurleys, people in the movement nationally believe his support from that group is broad in Iowa and, more important, that the strength of that support is deep.

“Mike is the kind of candidate we have hoped for,” said Michael Farris, an evangelical Christian and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a group that defends parents’ rights to educate their children at home. “He’s a man who shares a world view with evangelical Christians.”

Huck, you may recall, won the Iowa caucuses that year. And, as I noted the other day, the former governor of Arkansas looks like he's going to make another run in 2016.

Now, about that conventional wisdom. First of all, what is it? That the 2016 GOP race will come down to a "playoff" between the establishment (or mainstream conservative) candidate and the tea party (or movement conservative) candidate.

In November, I considered the possibility of a three-way race for the nomination, between Huck, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul. But now I'm starting to think even that may have been too conservative. If Huck does indeed jump in, with his support from home-schoolers, evangelicals and homophobes (and others), he may end up occupying just a small niche in the party. With Jeb, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio (and maybe Scott Walker and John Kasich) vying for the establishment vote (and Mitt Romney waiting in the wings for a draft?), and Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry (and Ben Carson?) bringing their individual slices, this thing could get real Balkanized, real fast. Suddenly, you could see five or six candidates with support in the 15 or so percent range with no one able to deliver a knock-out blow. (Could we possibly see a brokered convention? That's not supposed to happen in modern times.)

But with a shortened and streamlined calendar this time around, we may have every bit as much chaos as in Reince Priebus's worst nightmare.

No comments: