Educate your children at home like me, Santorum tells America's parents

Far right cheer as candidiate launches attack on 'anachronism' of public schooling

New York

Rick Santorum, whose shoestring campaign for the Republican nomination for president continues to gain momentum, has launched a broadside against public education, saying it would be better if parents taught their children at home than send them to "factory schools".

Speaking to the Ohio Christian Alliance at the weekend, he said the idea that governments should run schools was a relic of the Industrial Revolution and an "anachronism". The former Senator for Pennsylvania is among the less than 3 per cent of American parents who home-school their children for religious reasons, and his decision to put the issue on the election agenda raised cheers from the Republican party's religious right.

Mr Santorum accompanied his comments with an attack on President Barack Obama for peddling "phony theology" and policies that were not rooted in the Bible – an attack that Democrats said echoed the conspiracy theories on the far right that the president was a secret Muslim.

The rise of Mr Santorum, plus a string of political controversies over gay marriage and contraception in recent weeks, has sharply shifted the focus of the presidential campaign away from economic issues and back to the social divisions that dominated the past decade.

Mr Santorum beat the Republican frontrunner, the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, in the Iowa caucus this year in part because of grassroots support from home-schoolers in the state. Although he has not previously made education a plank of his campaign, it is well known that he and his wife, both staunch Catholics, teach their seven children at home and he has written before about the "weird socialisation" of public schools.

Mr Santorum said at the weekend that for the first 150 years after Independence most US presidents home-schooled their children. "Where did they come up that public education and bigger education bureaucracies was the rule in America? Parents educated their children, because it's their responsibility to educate their children," he said.

Mr Santorum leads Mr Romney by 34 per cent to 30 per cent in polls in the next state to vote, Michigan, where Mr Romney grew up. He had been expected to win comfortably, but if the state falls to Mr Santorum, the air of invincibility around Mr Romney could be shattered for good.

Mr Santorum's religious conservatism has excited Republicans in a way that Mr Romney's cool managerial style has not.

But Republican leaders fear the consequences of an election campaign that appeals only to the hardcore of the party, particularly when polls say the economy is still the No 1 issue for voters.

In a sign of what could come if Mr Santorum faces Mr Obama in November, the former Pennsylvania Senator accused the President on Saturday of "oppressing religious freedom" for proposing that Catholic organisations must include contraception in healthcare insurance for employees. He denied that calling Mr Obama's views a "phony theology" amounted to questioning his religion, saying: "If the president says he's a Christian he's a Christian."

Michigan Republicans go to the polls next Tuesday, along with those Arizona, where Mr Romney's campaign suffered a setback yesterday. The co-chairman of the Romney campaign there, a county sheriff who made national headlines for his tough stance on illegal immigration, resigned after a newspaper published allegations that he threatened to deport a former boyfriend, a Mexican, when the man refused to keep quiet about their relationship.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?