The fringe left-wing hate group “Political Research Associates” has come out with guns blazing to smear Public School Exit, a new movement aimed at rescuing as many children as possible from government schools. Known for dishonesty and extremism in targeting of those it disagrees with, PRA has homeschooling, parental rights, and Christianity in its cross-hairs, too.
Public School Exit leaders were excited about the prospects for the piece when contacted for comment by an anti-Christian transgender activist who goes by the name “Chrissy Stroop.” The hope was that it would potentially spark some follow-up attacks in the establishment press, and that this would help build public awareness about PSE and the dangers of government-school indoctrination, sexualization, and dumbing down.
Unfortunately, the piece was so filled with obvious factual inaccuracies that it totally flopped, garnering virtually no attention at all. The rambling screed, headlined “Mission to Destroy Public Education Rebrands Under COVID-19,” reads like the unhinged babbling of a madman with a ferocious and potentially dangerous vendetta against people of faith, parents, family, homeschooling, and individual liberty. The list of lies, dishonest claims, and fake insinuations in the piece was jaw-dropping.
First of all, the opinion column repeatedly argued that conservatives, Christians, and homeschooling in general are “authoritarian” or somehow oppressive. Indeed, right in the first sentence, the writer, a self-styled “exvangelical” (“ex-evangelical), fumes that “right-wing authoritarians at home and abroad are exploiting crisis conditions to grab or consolidate power.”
Of course, in the real world, authoritarians are those who reject parental rights, family autonomy, educational liberty, religious freedom, and so on. In fact, it was authoritarian National Socialist (Nazi) leader Adolf Hitler who first criminalized homeschooling while seeking to have the state replace the role of the family. Communist totalitarians did the same as they butchered hundreds of millions of innocent people. PRA, Stroop, and the mass-murdering tyrants of the 20th century all share the same worldview when it comes to the state “uber alles.”
Meanwhile, public school — with the total regimentation of every moment, the endless indoctrination, the complete lack of freedom, the ubiquitous violation of privacy rights and individual agency, the eradication of choice, all so the government can shape the minds of children — represents the very essence of authoritarianism. Homeschooling, by contrast, is generally the very antithesis of authoritarianism, giving families and children freedom to pursue their own interests at their own pace with a broad diversity of viewpoints.
Stroop goes on to accuse PSE of being “anti-government.” If he had done even the slightest amount of research, though, he would know that nobody associated with PSE is anti-government at all. As Christians, the leadership all agree that government is important, is ordained by God, and should be obeyed unless its demands run counter to God’s demands. PSE leaders agree with America’s Founding Fathers, too, when they said the purpose of government was to protect the God-given rights to life, liberty, and property. In short, PSE leaders are all very pro-government.
Perhaps even more bizarrely, Stroop argues that PSE is “just the latest rebranding of a racist, patriarchal, and virulently anti-government movement whose adherents have spent decades working to destroy public education in the United States.” If he had asked, Stroop would have known that the board of directors is multi-racial, and that the goal was not so much to destroy public education as it is to rescue children from public schools. Stroop did not give any evidence to substantiate the libelous smear in the piece or in questions from this writer.
As has generally been the case with propaganda from the radical left-wing hate group, Stroop made sure to smear others, too. For instance, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a very mainstream pro-homeschooling organization with hundreds of thousands of members, is smeared as “far right” in the PRA piece. Stroops did not explain what he based that characterization on, or even what it is supposed to mean. Ironically, Stroop and other left-wing extremists often try to refer to Nazi Hitler as “far-right,” despite the fact that they themselves share many key elements of the National Socialist view on the role of government and the place of the family and the individual.
Even though Stroop was told repeatedly that PSE leaders and advisors hold a wide array of theological views, and that his efforts to label the group would be inaccurate, Stroop repeatedly tried to suggest that the non-denominational movement is somehow “dominionist.” The evidence? The fact that a book co-written by this author quoted renowned theologian R.J. Rushdoony’s views on public-school architect (and anti-Christian communist) John Dewey, and that PSE uses the term “government schools” to describe government schools. Seriously. Stroop did not say what was wrong with dominionism in his view.
In an attempt to smear Dr. Duke Pesta, one of the founding partners of PSE, the PRA propaganda piece blasted him as a member of the John Birch Society’s National Council and a “right-wing radio host.” Even two seconds worth of research would have revealed that Dr. Pesta is also a tenured university professor, a leading expert on Common Core, and the academic director of FreedomProject Academy, an accredited online K-12 school. Whether failure to mention those facts was due to a lack of research or a deliberate effort to mislead readers was not clear. Again, neither Stroop nor PRA editors responded to requests for comment about it.
Even more bizarrely, perhaps, Stroop then claims that homeschooled children are frequently subjected to “alternative facts.” He does not provide any examples, but instead links to a screed in the far-left Huffington Post claiming that some government-funded schools are allegedly teaching creationism. Perhaps Stroop was unaware that polls show far more Americans believe in creation than evolution, a controversial theory that would not be referred to as a “fact” even by its most fervent devotees in the scientific world. Ironically, creationist homeschoolers typically know more about the evolution theory than victims of government schools.
However, alternative facts are a real threat. In government schools across America, for example, it is a fact that children are regularly and frequently being subjected to “alternative facts.” One of the most dangerous examples — one among many — is the ludicrous and self-evidently false notion that children can become a new gender by surgically mutilating their genitals, a lie so extreme that the American College of Pediatricians has labeled it “child abuse.” In reality, the DNA creating a male or a female is immutable and no amount of government propaganda, hormone injections, or genital mutilation will change it.
Then, Stroop drops an even greater whooper, falsely claiming that homeschool children are “at elevated risk of neglect and abuse.” One of those interviewed, Ashley Schnarr Easter, echoed those concerns, calling for totalitarian government control over families under the guise of protecting children from their own parents.
If Stroop had done even an ounce of research, though, he would have known that the facts prove the opposite to be true. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Education found in 2004 study that fully one in ten students in government school would be the target of sexual misconduct by a school employee. Even the most alarmist anti-homeschooling extremists would never argue that abuse levels were anywhere close to that high in home education. In fact, aside from extremely rare exceptions, all the evidence shows that abuse among homeschool families is drastically lower than in any other setting. After all, parents are biologically programmed to love and protect their children, so this should not be a surprise.
One especially nasty attack came from Torah Bontrager, who hopes to destroy Amish culture and families because she rejected them as a child. Bontrager claimed PSE was “just another organization in the long string of actors sacrificing children on the bloody altar of power and control.” Despite the fact that studies show homeschooled children are generally more tolerant than victims of government school and far better educated on civics and the founding documents enshrining individual rights, Bontrager also argues that homeschool parents might indoctrinate their children or deprive them of knowledge about their rights. Stroop concludes on a similar note, arguing that the “Christian Right” has supposedly used home education for decades “as a vehicle to radicalize parents and children alike.”
In the real world, of course, tens of millions of children have actually been sacrificed on the alter of government control under Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Castro, Mugabe, Pol Pot, and many others. Meanwhile, families have throughout human history and across cultures always provided a refuge for children. And historically, the danger of radicalizing children and failing to teach them about their rights has come almost exclusively from government. Never once in recorded history have homeschooling parents or students orchestrated a genocide, opened concentration camps, or launched a war of aggression. But authoritarian governments routinely use government “education” to brainwash their victims and facilitate ghastly atrocities.
For obvious reasons, Stroop did not address the fact that homeschool students on average perform massively better than government-school children, even on the government’s own standardized academic tests. Homeschoolers also do better socially, and they do better as adults. The data is clear, which is almost certainly why Stroop avoided any mention of it.
The seething hatred of Christians and conservatives displayed by Stroop and the fringe group he wrote the article for is sad. But it is not surprising. Stroop, a man impersonating a woman who prefers “they/them” pronouns, describes himself on his own website as being “slightly famous for yelling at Christians on the Internet.” In reading the account of his “gender transition” on his website, it is hard not to feel sympathy: He seems to suffer from deep-seated pain and confusion surrounding his identity and place in the world. Intellectually, he clearly benefited from his education at Christian schools. However, he nevertheless has made it his life’s mission to wage war on God and the church.
Unfortunately, Stroop seems to take out his anger and alienation on Christians and others who believe that God created people male and female, that God abhors sin, that marriage is between a man and a woman, that God put parents in charge of rearing children, and that God gets to define right and wrong. It is also clear that Stroop loathes the family unit — especially Christian families who try to bring their children up in the faith, knowing right from wrong. He also hates Trump. “I’m still scared,” he wrote on his website. “The Trump regime is waging a full-on assault on trans rights and existence, with the enthusiastic backing of the kind of right-wing Christians I grew up among and as.”
Neither Stroop nor his editors responded to PSE’s requests for comment.
Readers are encouraged to pray for Stroop and his editors.