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Rick Santorum & Family

santorum-family

Photo courtesy: www.ricksantorum.com

Meet the Presidential Candidate and Homeschool Dad!

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, currently a Republican candidate for President, is a homeschool dad of seven children: 20-year-old Elizabeth Anne (b. 1991), 19-year-old Richard John Jr. (b. 1993), 17-year-old Daniel James (b. 1995), 14-year-old Sarah Maria (b. 1998), 13-year-old Peter Kenneth (b. 1999), 11-year-old Patrick Francis (b. 2001),  3-year-old Isabella Maria (b. 2008).

Bella, their “miracle baby,” has a rare genetic disorder called Trisomy 18; only 10 percent of those born with it survive beyond their first year. Bella’s hospitalization during her dad’s campaign drew so much attention that Santorum and his wife Karen decided to make a video explaining their daughter’s situation. The Santorums had another child, Gabriel Michael (b. 1996), who died shortly after birth. Karen Santorum’s book, Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum, is a compilation of letters she wrote to her unborn son.

Richard John “Rick” Santorum was born on May 10, 1958, the second of three children. A first-generation American, Santorum is bilingual, speaking both English and Italian. His father, a clinical psychologist, immigrated to the United States from Italy. Santorum’s mother is a nurse of Italian and Irish descent. Both of his parents worked for the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital. Rick was born in Virginia but mostly grew up in the suburbs outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He attended Pennsylvania State University where he graduated in 1980, earning a bachelor’s degree with honors in political science. He followed with an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh in 1981. Santorum received a Juris Doctor degree with honors from the Dickinson School of Law in 1986, and started practicing law at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. In 1990 he married Karen Garver, a neonatal intensive care nurse and law student.

A lifelong Republican, Santorum ran for political office for the first time in 1990 at age 32. He was an underdog candidate for the U.S. House from Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, representing the Pittsburgh suburbs where he had been raised. Surprising political experts and gaining national attention, Santorum won the election, knocking seven-term Democratic incumbent Doug Walgren out of office. As a freshman congressman, Santorum was one of several new GOP lawmakers known as the “Gang of Seven.” They gained their reputation by fiercely attacking corruption in the Democrat-controlled House, focusing in particular on the Congressional Bank and Congressional Post Office scandal after it was uncovered that members of Congress were misusing funds. Santorum served as a U.S. Representative from 1991 to 1995.

Considered a rising star within the Republican Party, Santorum soon sought higher office and won election to the U.S. Senate in 1994, at the age of 36. He again knocked out a long-tenured Democratic incumbent. Six years later, Santorum was re-elected to a second term and became chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the third highest-ranking party leadership position in the Senate. Santorum became well-known for his vigorous advocacy of socially conservative views and his confrontational style of politics. A reporter for the Washington Post stated that Santorum “was a tea party kind of guy before there was a tea party.” Santorum served as a U.S. Senator from 1995 to 2007.

As a government reformer, Senator Santorum fought to maintain fiscal sanity in Washington, fighting for a balanced budget and a line item veto. He bravely proposed cutting spending and reforming entitlements. He was an author and floor manager of the landmark 1996 Welfare Reform Act, one of the most successful pieces of reform legislation in U.S. history. It empowered millions of Americans to give up welfare and enter the workforce. He was also a passionate fighter for smaller government, a strong national defense, and a return to our country’s founding principles. Santorum served eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee and was a leader on US-Israeli relations. This position gave him a critical understanding of national defense and foreign policy challenges.

A devout Catholic, Santorum was one of Washington’s most prominent pro-life voices on debates over issues such as abortion, evolution, and euthanasia. He fought to protect traditional marriage, families, children, and the unborn. He sought to prevent the husband of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo from removing her from life support. In the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001, Santorum attempted to include the theory of intelligent design alongside the theory of Darwinian evolution in public school science classes. Though unsuccessful, the “Santorum Amendment” has been largely credited as the catalyst for the decade-long battle between Creationists and the secular academic community. In 2005, he was listed as one of the “25 most influential evangelists in America” by TIME magazine.

Santorum has been an outspoken advocate of homeschooling since his oldest daughter was in first grade. In his 2005 bestselling book It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, he argued that “mass education” is an “aberration” because it is “a radically narrow, age-segregated environment” completely different from life outside of school. Santorum continued: “In a home school, by contrast, children interact in a rich and complex way with adults and children of other ages all the time. In general, they are better-adjusted, more at ease with adults, more capable of conversation, more able to notice when a younger child needs help or comfort, and in general a lot better socialized than their mass-schooled peers.” However, he learned the hard way that there is a major difference between homeschooling and public schooling at home, even though public charter schools were often marketed to homeschoolers.

During his second term in the U.S. Senate, Santorum became embroiled in a controversy over his residence. Though officially residing in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, where his five eldest children were enrolled in the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, Santorum and his family actually spent most of their time in Leesburg, Virginia, just outside Washington. Senator Santorum said, “I wanted to make sure I could put my kids to bed every night at a minimum and be with them on days when I’m off.” The school board determined that the children were not legal residents of the Penn Hills district, even though the Santorums still owned a home there and paid their taxes just like every other resident. So they withdrew their children from the online school and Mrs. Santorum took over homeschooling them herself, but the school wanted the Santorums to repay the tuition cost. Their fight with the school district dragged on through 2006 and damaged his re-election chances.

After failing in his re-election campaign in 2006, Santorum bowed out of the national political scene and kept a relatively low profile. He resumed his work as a lawyer and became a regular contributor to the Fox News Channel. He also co-hosted a nationally-syndicated radio show, “Morning in America,” and continued his fellowship with The Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative advocacy group. He also wrote the Forward to Darwin’s Nemesis: Phillip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movementby William A. Dembski (2006). In 2008, Santorum gave a speech to students at Ave Maria University, a Catholic college in Florida founded by Domino’s Pizza owner Tom Monaghan. In that speech, Santorum decried what he saw as “a spiritual war” being waged against national institutions by “the father of lies, Satan.”

In 2011, Santorum emerged as a potential 2012 presidential candidate because his well-established social and fiscal conservatism appealed to the GOP’s Tea Party base. During the CNN Republican Presidential Debate held in Mesa, Arizona on February 22, 2012, Santorum said: “Look, I’m a home schooling father of seven. I know the importance of customized education for our children. I know the importance of parental control of education.” The audience applauded and then he continued, “I know the importance of local control of education. And having gone through that experience of the federal government involvement, not only do I believe the federal government should get out of the education business, I think the state government should start to get out of the education business and put it back to the state — to the local and into the community.”

Michael Farris, President of the Home School Legal Defense Association, released the following statement commending Rick Santorum to the voters: “I want to thank Rick Santorum for his stalwart defense of life, marriage, and the rights of parents. He has made these issues his priority throughout his career. As a fellow homeschooler, he knows how important it is to protect parental rights. That is why I strongly commend Rick Santorum for his support of the Parental Rights Amendment.” Santorum responded: “Michael has been a true champion for home school parents just like me and Karen. Our government has placed roadblock after roadblock in front of families who choose to take control over their child’s education.  Michael knows that we need to end the factory style education system that believes that one-size fits all education actually works. I am honored to receive these kind words from Michael and commit to working to further place the power to educate our children back into the hands of our parents, and out of the bureaucrats.”

Rick Santorum also received a strong endorsement from the Susan B. Anthony List, who said this is the first time they have ever backed a candidate in a GOP primary. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List, said despite their “pro-life” commitments, none of the other candidates have shown the “record of consistent leadership” that Santorum has on abortion. “Among the field of strong pro-life candidates in the GOP primary, one stands out as a proven leader in this great human and civil rights cause of our time. Rick Santorum communicates the vision and has exhibited the strategic and tactical prowess the pro-life movement must have in order to succeed.” In addition, Santorum has been honored to receive the endorsement and support of many national conservative leaders such as Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family; Gary Bauer, founder and president of American Values; Colin A. Hanna, President of Let Freedom Ring USA; Elaine Donnelly, founder and President of the Center for Military Readiness; and Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America.

Of all his accomplishments, Santorum is most proud of his role as a husband and father. When asked what job he would want after serving as President, he replied, “Just Dad.” Santorum also hinted that he would homeschool his children in the White House, which “would certainly be a shock to the establishment.” However, if Santorum makes it to the White House, his children won’t be the first homeschoolers to live there. They will just be the first in modern history. In the nation’s past, “Most presidents homeschooled their children in the White House….Parents educated their children because it was their responsibility,” Santorum said. “We didn’t have government-run schools…for the majority of the time in this country,” he explained during a Valentine’s Day campaign stop in Idaho. “We had private education. We had local education. Parents actually controlled the education of their children.” Santorum added that government-run schools are an artifact of the Industrial Revolution, “when people came off the farms where they did homeschool or had a little neighborhood school, and into these big factories…called public schools.” While industry has progressed, public schools remain stuck “back in the age of Henry Ford. You get what we give you. One color, two models. It wouldn’t work for Henry Ford today, and it won’t work for America today.”

The former Senator is often seen on the campaign trail accompanied by several of his children. They have been privileged to be involved in all aspects of their dad’s political career, including the decision to run for President of the United States. Some of the children thought it would be a great experience, while others were more hesitant. “In the end we all decided it was the right thing for our country, our dad and our family,” said Sarah Maria. “We know he’ll be just as good a president as he is a dad.” Nevertheless, the campaign has been “incredibly hard” on his family, both emotionally and financially. He’s given up all paid employment, including his work for Fox News, to make the run. His wife, Karen, cares for the special needs of Isabella full time now so they hired a tutor to help homeschool the younger kids. John Santorum, 19, is taking a year off to campaign with his dad while considering his future plans which may include going into the military or doing public service before starting college. Elizabeth Santorum, 20, a junior majoring in politics at the University of Dallas, wrote an article on why her dad should be president: http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2011/12/why-rick-santorum-my-dad-is-the-right-man-to-be-president/

References:

http://www.ricksantorum.com

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/18/news/la-pn-santorum-bashes-public-schools-says-theyre-stuck-in-factory-era-20120218

http://www.christianpost.com/news/santorum-gingrich-children-play-vital-role-in-dads-campaign-67655/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/gop-hopeful-rick-santorum-campaigns-with-a-seriously-ill-daughter-at-home/2011/11/28/gIQAMWdHAO_story.html

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/santorum-ill-home-school-in-the-white-house

http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/education/10925-santorums-stated-opposition-to-public-schooling-doesnt-match-his-record

http://www.homeschoolconvention.com/blog/eavesdrop-on-a-chat-with-senator-rick-santorum/


Homeschool Letter From The Santorum Children

Dear fellow homeschooler,

Like many of you, our family cherishes the opportunity to learn at home. Our parents, Karen and Rick Santorum, believe it is their right to raise and educate us, not the government’s. With your help, we can become the first family in modern history to homeschool in the White House. On the campaign trail our father was recently asked if this would be a historical occurrence. “I don’t believe so,” he replied. “For the first hundred years or so, most of the first families homeschooled. We know for a fact that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were educated at home, along with numerous other American leaders.”

As a homeschooling father with seven children, our dad understands the importance of a flexible and personalized approach to education. He believes the federal government’s role in education should be limited. Educational freedom and choice is a precious right that must be safely guarded. Our parents believe families should be allowed to explore all forms of education, but for us, homeschooling is the best option. Students should not be held back if they are more advanced than their peers, and neither should students be forgotten if their understanding of the subject matter is inferior. Not everyone excels at every subject; like most of you, we all have our own struggles. However, homeschooling has allowed our parents to uniquely tailor our learning methods to fit our personal strengths and weaknesses.

Like you, our love for America and each other is deeply rooted in the home. For many of us, that love has been strengthened through the blessings and trials of homeschooling. These days, however, our father is busy campaigning for President of the United States, and we don’t see him as much as we used to. It’s hard. History isn’t quite as exciting, and neither are those hours of free time. But we believe in what our father represents and the values he has instilled in us. Whenever possible, we join him on the campaign trail and watch proudly as he articulates his passion for God, our family, and our beloved America. For the first time in our nation’s history, you and I have an opportunity to elect not only a true advocate for homeschooling, but someone who has experienced the joys and struggles of home education on a daily level.

Homeschoolers are some the most dedicated political activists in America and will play a pivotal role in this election cycle. Your assistance is critical for our success. Please join us. Here is what you can do:

Thanks in advance for mobilizing people on his behalf.

The Santorum Children
Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Sarah Maria, Peter, Patrick and Bella

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