NOTE: The opinions and commentary expressed in this essay are those of the author and are an exercise of free speech. They do not necessarily represent the views of Free State Project Inc., its Directors, its Officers, or its Participants.
It is several weeks since the Free State Project announced New Hampshire as the winning state, but the comments of Kathy Sullivan, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, are still echoing. In The Fosters Daily Democrat on October 2, 2003, Sullivan had said, "Why is Governor Craig Benson supporting a group that wants to legalize prostitution, legalize drugs and eliminate public schools?" Shamelessly working to instill fear, uncertainty, and doubt, Sullivan went on to say, "Craig Benson should explain to the voters why he is supporting such a radical, anti-family agenda." Perhaps it is Kathy Sullivan who should explain to voters why she is so afraid that she has to resort to FUD tactics?
For over a year I have been a member of the Free State Project, and for (far longer) I have been a member of the New Hampshire Republican Party, in the libertarian wing. I supported Governor Benson-New Hampshire needed a non-politician governor with innovative and 'radical' ideas. I have seen him work hard towards the budget cuts that the New Hampshire economy so badly needed. Sullivan's predictions of Benson losing votes because of his support for the Free State Project are wishful thinking, but it is her comments on public schools that I wish to address in detail.
Since the publication of my essay Happily Homeschooling in NH on the FSP web site, I have been contacted by several individuals from all over the United States about homeschooling in New Hampshire and homeschooling in general, and from non-FSP people who wanted to know more about the Project. While I cannot speak for all members of the FSP, I have not heard from one who believes that the public schools will be "eliminated" in a free state. Sullivan's accusation is an unfair attempt to exploit fears and cast doubt on the Project, with obvious political motivation. The FSP mission does support a family's right to homeschool their children without government intrusion. It is my goal and that of several others I know to work within the existing political system to preserve and perhaps enhance a family's right to homeschool in a free state.
Homeschooling our children has enhanced the bonds within our home. We are a stronger and closer-knit family then we ever dreamed of being when our children attended the local public school. I do not see any "anti-family" agenda in homeschooling and enhancing homeschooling laws. In fact the only square peg in the house is the one child who does attend the local public middle school. I am not mindlessly opposed to schools; as a mother I want what is best for my son, and in his case homeschooling does not work well, so I enroll him in a traditional school. I would never politically strive to deprive another family of that right.
My own political goals include opening doors of free competition, which I believe would ultimately improve public schools in New Hampshire. With the threat of competition, organizations improve. I view the public school as nothing other than a municipal business which, if faced with real competition, would find ways to improve. That improvement would benefit all children in New Hampshire. How is that political view "anti-family"?
We must protect the rights of parents who choose to have their children attend schools, whether public or private. There is very little recourse for parents in New Hampshire if they find that the teachers and administrators of a public school are not performing satisfactorily; even amidst allegations of serious misconduct, unions protect the teachers. I base these comments on what I have witnessed myself as a parent.
Democrats who are truly pro-family, want our children to get the best education
possible. I have several liberal democratic friends who are very interested in
the Free State Project. I reject Kathy Sullivan's fears and I do think that
there is a welcoming spirit here in New Hampshire!