2022 is Shaping Up to be
a School Choice Year
What can Iowa homeschooling families expect
from the 2022 Legislative Session?
Homeschool Iowa Lobbyist, Bill Gustoff, tells us, "It looks like 2022 is shaping up to be a school choice year."
But before we look at 2022, let's quickly review what happened last year.
What Happened Last Year?
From a legislative perspective, our Homeschool Iowa Lobbyist, Bill, reports that 2021 was a good year for Iowa homeschool families.
In the 2021 Legislative Session, our Homeschool Advocacy Team worked to successfully:
- protect the educational autonomy of Independent Private Instruction (IPI),
- tie up loose ends from the major expansion of homeschooling freedom passed in 2013,
- improve Parent-Taught Driver Education and open it to all students, and
- add access to the tuition and textbook credit for homeschooling families on the same basis as public and private school families.
Speaking of tuition and textbook tax credits,
one loose end remains to be tied from the 2021 session.
Homeschoolers were added to an expanded tuition and textbook tax credit under Iowa Code Section 422.12(2), equal to 25% of up to $2,000 in eligible expenses for each K-12 dependent.
The law was effective for the 2021 tax year, yet we still await regulations from the Iowa Department of Revenue to give guidance. We expect those soon. You will find more information and continuing updates on our “Tax Credit for Homeschooling Families in Iowa” blog post.
2022 Legislative Session
While we have long enjoyed support at the Capitol, it has never been more solid across the board. This includes both chambers in the Legislature and the Governor’s Office.
The 2022 Legislative Session is off to an encouraging start.
Governor Reynolds came out strongly for school choice and parental rights in her Condition of the State Address. Our initial contacts with legislators also indicate that many are ready to stand strong on these issues with parents and students.
We have worked long and hard to help legislators understand the nuances of homeschool law in Iowa. Although we have a flexible and free system that can make homeschooling easy, the law and regulations can be challenging to decipher.
We enjoy helping people understand the distinctions between the different homeschool options in Iowa and the need to leave independent homeschooling free of government intrusion.
2022 Legislative Priorities
Our top priority for the 2022 Legislative Session
will continue, as in past years, to be
the protection of independent homeschooling.
This means not only resisting ill-intended encroachments on our freedoms, but sometimes well-intended efforts to include IPI in “benefits” that could come with more regulation. Our message has been well-received, and our friends in the Capitol understand we want them to “leave IPI alone.” Still, we remain vigilant.
Governor Reynolds’ Condition of the State Address delivered an impressively pro-parental rights and pro-school-choice message. She made clear that she is ready to take bold steps to empower parents to make the best educational choices for their children.
The signature piece of Governor Reynolds’ education proposal for 2022 is a retooled “Student First Scholarship” that she proposed in 2021. This Education Savings Account (ESA) proposal is patterned after successful programs in other states. It would allow 70% of the state funds expended per public school student to follow the student to fund a private schooling option. That would be about $5360 per student, with the remaining 30% of the state funding to be distributed among small school districts around the state to mitigate what some argue will be a negative financial impact on those districts.
There is no actual bill available at the time of this writing. Thus, we will have to wait and see exactly what the final program looks like. We have been told that Competent Private Instruction (CPI) will qualify for the ESA, but not Independent Private Instruction (IPI), as we requested.
Our Advocacy Team will provide updates on the Student First Scholarship once the proposed legislation is available.
We have various other items on our agenda for the 2022 Legislative Session intended to eliminate disparities in how homeschooled students are treated compared to their accredited school counterparts. These items include:
- requiring recognition of homeschool diplomas the same as those issued by accredited schools,
- improving the procedures and processes needed for homeschool students to obtain “minor school licenses," and
- exploring other ideas to give equal access to tax credits that will allow us to keep more of our own tax dollars without strings attached.
You Can Be a Part of These Efforts!
The best way you can stay up to date on Iowa legislative issues impacting homeschoolers, and easily and effectively communicate with your legislators, is to sign up for our secure Homeschool Iowa VoterVoice tool.
VoterVoice allows you to be an active partner in monitoring and responding to legislation affecting your homeschooling family.
Join us as a Homeschool Iowa VoterVoice partner.
"While we certainly will not achieve all our legislative goals this year, we are optimistic that we will make continued progress while diligently protecting the freedoms of Iowa homeschooling families."