DES MOINES, Iowa -- Several hundred Iowa Christian home school families filled an audience Thursday in Des Moines that Republican presidential candidates want to impress.
NICHE, Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators, held an all-day conference in Des Moines. One declared candidate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and three potential candidates attended: former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (the 2012 Iowa Caucus winner), former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (the 2008 Iowa Caucus winner) and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
All praised the commitment of home school educators.
Cruz said, "I think school choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century."
Huckabee said, "Ultimately, the decision for your children's education is not in the hands of the government . It is the hands of the mothers and fathers who are not only responsible for bringing the children into the world but who are responsible for training their replacements."
Jindal said, "I know many choose to home school because you want to share our Christian faith with your children. You want to teach them and raise them according to our values. I, too, am alarmed by the assault on religious liberty, not just in Arkansas and Indiana."
Santorum said, "We don't need education standards or Common Core to tell America how to educate our children. We need parents to be intricately involved in the decisions as to what is best for their children."
It is difficult to know how many home school families there are in Iowa. A spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Education said the state no longer tracks the families. It last counted home school families for the 2012-13 year and found 10,732.