Michele Bachmann was interviewed on Sunday by Fox News' Chris Wallace. Wallace, who didn't really press the right-wing presidential candidate on any particular matter, asked Bachmann if she was "fake," which led Bachmann to avoid the question and start on her standard list of accomplishments.
Offended, Bachmann said the following: "I'm 55 years old. I've been married 33 years," she said. "I'm not only a lawyer, I have a post-doctorate degree in federal tax law from William and Mary. I've worked in serious scholarship … my husband and I have raised five kids, we've raised 23 foster children. We've applied ourselves to education reform. We started a charter school for at-risk kids. I've also been a state senator and member of the United States Congress for five years."
Wallace didn't really go any further, and instead decided to council Bachmann on being careful now that she will be scrutinized greater than before because of her candidacy, but that made me wonder - just how accurate is Bachmann's portrayal of herself?
I'm not really interested in her role as a lawyer, although she never mentions she was an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service. I'm more concerned with her later comments, that she "raised 23 foster children." If you listen to Bachmann, she makes it sound as if she raised these children from birth. Bachmann rarely offers details about her fostering, and she usually uses the children's privacy as an excuse - even for information that does not effect the children.
Brian Montopoli wrote the following for CBS News:
Writing in the Daily Beast this week, Michelle Goldberg quoted Kris Harvieux, who worked as a senior social worker in the foster care system in Bachmann's county, who said at least some of Bachmann's placements were likely short term.Goldberg had gone on to explain a little more about her foster children, touching up on Bachmann's charter school, too.
"Some of them you have for a week. Some of them you have for three years, some you have for six months," he said. "She makes it sound like she got them at birth and raised them to adulthood, but that's not true."
According to Goldberg, the Minnesota Department of Human Services reports that Bachmann's foster care license allowed her to care for at most three children at any one time; she had the license for 7 1/2 years.
Asked to explain her situation with her foster children, Bachmann said "we took children in as teenagers."
"Their family was facing a challenge and they weren't going to be able to be at home with their parents and so we took them in as teenagers," she continued. "And our job was to see that they graduated from high school and were successfully launched into the world."
Asked how long they lived with her, she said "it varied."
I asked Bachmann to explain the parameters of how long the children lived with her - was it as short as one week? As long as three years?
"It varied, it really varied depending on the children," Bachmann responded. "And we've never gotten into specifics about the children because we've always wanted to observe their privacy and that of their families. As I'm sure you can appreciate."
Yet Bachmann clearly had some of her foster children long enough to enroll them in local schools, and it was through them that she got involved in school politics. While she taught her own children at home before sending them to private Christian schools, state law required foster kids to go to public school. Seeing their curriculum, she became convinced that "politically correct attitudes, values, and beliefs" had supplanted objective education. She helped found a charter school but soon left the board amid allegations that she was trying to inject Christianity into the curriculum. Then, in 1999, she decided to run for the local school board.Bachmann has been known for wanting to teach Christianity in America's public schools (Goldberg also points out in his article that Bachmann believes America was founded as a Christian theocracy).
Elspeth Reeve wrote the following for The Atlantic showing Bachmann's bias:
Michele Bachmann's path into politics was one followed by many conservative Christians: through the schools. Bachmann sent her five kids to religious schools near her suburban Minnesota home, but she sent her 23 foster kids to public schools. She found the materials brought home by those kids to be troubling. So in 1993, she helped found one of the first public charter schools in her state. Only three months after the school opened, Bachmann faced controversy for the religious bent of the curriculum, Bloomberg's Lisa Lerer and John McCormick report. One teacher, for example, had banned Aladdin because the Disney movie mentioned magic.If Bachmann left for academic reasons, then why would she later run for school board to try and overturn a state-mandated curriculum, unless that curriculum is the reason why she had to leave in the first place?
The Bloomberg profile offers several anecdotes that illuminate the character of Bachmann, the Tea Party favorite whose potential presidential candidacy is looking more serious. The story indicates just how central Christianity is to Bachmann's political career, and drops some interesting anecdotes.
When parents complained that Bachmann's publicly-funded school was overtly religious, the school district investigated and found that to be true. In fact, a board created to guide the school, which Bachmann sat on, advocated mandatory prayer. Bachmann resigned, though she said it was for academic reasons. Bachmann said she wanted to pair at-risk kids with high-achievers. "We were trying to bring kids up, and instead it ended up being a school focused on minimum level of achievement," she told Bloomberg. Bachmann moved on to joining a homeschooling group, then ran for school board office to overturn a state-mandated curriculum.
It is also interesting to note that Bachmann enrolled her "kids" at the New Heights Charter School and joined the board after just one year of being a foster parent. When she left the board, she later went on to give speeches in church basements regarding education reform - an interesting place to go when considering why she was driven out of school management.
Was Bachmann's foster children an attempt to indoctrinate troubled youth into Christian theology?
Bachmann doesn't seem to divulge information on these children because she probably doesn't know anything about them. To Bachmann, they are just a prop in her political campaigns - like Trig and Piper are for Sarah Palin.
Oh yeah, these 23 kids were also a nice paycheck for Bachmann, who probably earned over one million dollars from the state to indoctrinate these children into her Christian ideology. I wonder where all these children are now and what they would say about their "mom."