Homeschoolers Running for Office
Brenna Findley was homeschooled in Iowa from 8th grade until she graduated from high school. As this article goes to press, she is the Republican nominee for attorney general of Iowa and is engaged in a vigorous campaign for the general election in November.
Michael P. Farris, Chairman of the Board Home School Legal Defense Association
Jaime Herrerra, who currently serves in the Washington State Legislature, is making her first bid for federal office, running for the United States Congress in the Third District of Washington. Jaime was homeschooled through 10th grade.
Brenna and Jaime are in the vanguard of homeschooling graduates who have decided to enter the world of elected public service. These graduates join an ever increasing number of homeschooling parents who are running for a wide variety of elected positions.
Geoff Davis, a congressman from Kentucky, is a longtime homeschooling dad running for reelection. At least six other homeschooling parents are seeking election to the U.S. House for the first time, and at least two are running for Senate.
Homeschool Graduates Enter the Fray
Jaime Herrerra grew up and currently resides in Clark County, Washington, in the southwestern quadrant of the Evergreen State. Jaime reports that her parents began homeschooling because they wanted her and her siblings to have a more individualized education, with special emphasis on history and the Constitution.
Homeschooling “was a very big part of the reason that I initially got interested in politics and decided I wanted to run,” Jaime told us. “When I got into my early teen years, [people in my local homeschool group] started encouraging my family to be involved in local elections. In the beginning I didn’t like it so much. We used to help in parades on Saturdays or do doorbelling and phone banking—and somewhere in there I just decided I loved it.”
During Jaime’s college years, she held temporary positions in the Washington State Senate and in the White House Office of Polit-ical Affairs under President George W. Bush. Then, in 2005-2007, she worked as a senior legislative aide for Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a congresswoman from eastern Washington.
After she returned home to Clark County in 2007, Jaime was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Washington State Legislature. She won reelection with 60% of the votes in 2008.
Commenting on the involvement of homeschooling families in her campaign, Jaime said, “I think they like the fact that I represent the values that are important to them. Parents should be the deciding factor in what a child needs when it comes to their education.”
Brenna Findley’s parents made the decision to homeschool all four of their children because two of Brenna’s siblings were struggling with reading. “Homeschooling gave me a firm educational foundation to build on,” Brenna told us.
After being homeschooled through high school in Dexter, Iowa, Brenna graduated from homeschooling with an academic record that enabled her to win a scholarship to Drake University to help pay for school. After Drake, she went on to graduate from the University of Chicago Law School in 2001. After working in private practice, she served in Washington, D.C., as the legal advisor and chief of staff for Iowa Congressman Steve King.
She advised, “It’s important for homeschool students and families to study the Constitution and the history of our founding, just like I did. I think that will be useful to you for your whole life, whether you decide to run for office someday or help people who are running for office. A firm education in our principles and in our founding and history is absolutely essential to success in politics."
Homeschool Parents in Politics
Sharron Angle, Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Nevada, is running a vigorous campaign against Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate. According to an article in National Review, Sharron entered the world of politics because of her involvement as a homeschooling mom. While she was homeschooling her own son in 1981, a local judge ruled that a family she was helping did not have the legal right to homeschool. “At that point, I realized that the government had interfered with my family. It was kind of like a mother bear and her cubs. Don’t get between me and my cubs, or you’ve got trouble,” Sharron told the National Review.
Sharron went to bat for the rights of homeschoolers, leading an effort in the state legislature that did not succeed initially, but ultimately resulted in more-favorable regulations being adopted by the Nevada state board of education.
Elected to the state legislature for a number of years, Sharron is now locked in one of the most watched races for the U.S. Senate this year.
Cam Cavasso, another former state legislator seeking election to the U.S. Senate, is a longtime homeschooling dad from Hawaii. He and his wife, Tula, homeschooled all five of their children. Four have graduated, and one is finishing her studies.
While serving in the state legislature, Cam sought my advice in drafting Hawaii’s homeschooling law, which he successfully shepherded through the state legislature. Cam expresses appreciation for homeschooling’s impact on him and his family.
“My heart is for this nation,” Cam said. “As far as I’m concerned, the homeschool families are the point of the spear at the head of the church in America. I have personally grown tremendously—as has my relationship with my wife and our relationship with the homeschool movement—because of the teaching, training, and biblical standards that have been set for families through homeschooling."
Tim Walberg is seeking to regain the seat in Congress that he previously won in 2006. Before that, he was a representative in the Michigan State Legislature and a member of the education committee. As a strong advocate for parental rights, he was the key go-to person whenever battles for homeschooling freedom arose in the legislature. Tim continued his commitment to parental rights in Congress by co-sponsoring the A-Plus Act, which sought to return education issues to the local and parental level. The Walbergs homeschooled their three children, now grown; one is a missionary in Uganda.
Tim commented on the growing recognition of homeschoolers by elected officials. “It is now perceived, and I think accurately so, that home education isn’t just small clusters of families around the country. We are now to the point that elected officials see them as a force, as a true movement.”
Scott Rigell, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, is seeking his first-ever elected position, running for the commonwealth’s Second Congressional District seat. He and his wife Teri homeschooled their children for many years.
The family orientation that led the Rigells to homeschool is being seen in the campaign. Scott described his wife and grown children as being “all in” in support of his candidacy. He admitted that the only person who can bring his campaign activity to a temporary halt is his 21-month-old grandson, who garners a lot of attention as he wins hearts.
Scott described his reasons for homeschooling: “It was for us the very, very best option, which I think gave our children the very best education that they could possibly receive. I have never said that homeschooling is for everyone, but it can be a very attractive, powerful option for many families and I encourage many families who are considering it to jump in.”
There are also a great number of homeschooling parents and some homeschooled grads who are seeking election for positions in state legislatures and local offices. These include Colorado homeschool leader Kevin Lundberg, who is running for reelection to the Colorado State Senate.
Why are so many homeschoolers running for office? These homeschooling parents and graduates have learned from experience, along with their study of history and the Constitution, that a misdirected government is dangerous to liberty. And they see that liberty is not just necessary for homeschooling. They recognize that all sectors of American life and all citizens of this nation are blessed when our elected officials preserve the legacy of liberty.