“Just call them what they are,” Santorum said. “Public schools? That’s a nice way of putting it. These are government-run schools.”
He’s not alone. Several other Republicans considering presidential runs blasted public schools at a home-schooling rally in Iowa. Texas Congressman Ron Paul told the crowd government wants “absolute control” of the “indoctrination” of children. Paul spoke along with Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Georgia businessman Herman Cain.
“The public school system now is a propaganda machine,” Paul said. “They start with our kids even in kindergarten, teaching them about family values, sexual education, gun rights, environmentalism — and they condition them to believe in so much which is totally un-American.” Bachmann said home schooling is the “essence” of freedom and liberty. “It’s about knowing our children better than the state knows our children,” she said. For his part, Cain said there should be no government involvement in education at any level. He wasn’t kidding.
To be sure, Bachmann, Paul, and Cain are not exactly the top tier of the 2012 GOP field, and strange, borderline-fringe candidates can be expected to take radical positions. But Santorum is also blasting the existence of public schools, and this talk is picking up in right-wing media.
This morning, I published a story on the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, which encouraged companies to offer sharia-compliant mortgages as part of then-Governor Tim Pawlenty effort to expand minority homeownership. Minnesota has a relatively large Muslim population, and the Islamic prohibition against payment or receiving of interest is an obstacle to owning a home for observant Muslims. The initiative Pawlenty supported allowed Muslims a way around this.
This was a relatively innocuous solution to an obvious problem. But Pawlenty’s camp is now pushing back on this story by arguing that, no, Pawlenty never supported sharia-compliant mortgages at all. Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant emails me this:
This program was independently set up by the MN state housing agency and did not make any mention of Sharia Law on its face, but was later described by critics as accommodating it. As soon as Gov. Pawlenty became aware of the issue, he personally ordered it shut it down. Fortunately, only about three people actually used the program before it was terminated at the Governor’s direction.