Senator Ted Cruz’s trip to Iowa next month is part of a broader effort to reach out to the homeschool community. The senator has long had support from homeschoolers in Texas, and he’s now working to strengthen ties with homeschoolers nationwide. Will Estrada, who runs the Home School Legal Defense Association’s PAC, tells NRO that he’s spoken with Cruz’s office about outreach to the homeschool community. And Catherine Frazier, a spokesperson for the senator, says his upcoming Iowa speech is part of efforts to grow support for homeschoolers nationwide.
Estrada says HSLDA has helped put Cruz’s office in touch with homeschool leaders around the country and describes him as “a champion” on homeschool issues. Frazier says Cruz has strong working relationships with HSLDA chairman Michael Farris.
“They see eye to eye on the issue of homeschooling and making sure families have the freedom of that choice to educate their kids at home,” she says, adding that Cruz’s support for homeschooling supplements his support for the school-choice movement.
Cruz’s backing from homeschoolers is nothing new. In fact, homeschoolers supported his campaign for Senate practically from Day One. Tim Lambert, who heads the Texas Home School Coalition (the state’s largest homeschooling group), and his group’s PAC endorsed Cruz in the early months of his candidacy. And though homeschoolers are only a small fraction of Texas’s population — Lambert estimates that of the state’s 26 million people, a bit more than 300,000 are homeschool students — they have an outsize impact on the state’s politics. Lambert says that a significant majority of the state’s homeschooling parents vote in Texas Republican primaries, and that thousands of homeschoolers volunteered for Cruz’s primary campaign.
He adds that though homeschoolers aren’t a monolith, they tend to be fiscally and socially conservative. And they’re more likely to be politically active than their non-homeschooling peers. And they like Ted Cruz.
“He connects very well with the homeschool community at all levels. politically, philosophically, personally,” Lambert says. “So I think it was easy for the homeschool community to rally around him.”
Cruz spoke at the Texas Home School Coalition gala in April, which is a fundraiser for the 501(c)(3) arm of the organization. After giving a talk, he spoke at length with homeschool high-school debaters, which Lambert says impressed attendees.
Estrada says that of the likely 2016 Republican presidential contenders, Cruz is the only one actively reaching out to the homeschool community. But he isn’t the first national politician to woo the small demographic. George W. Bush had significant support from the homeschooling community, and Michele Bachmann courted them during her presidential bid.
Editor’s Note: This post has been amended since its initial posting.