As the January 8 opening of the 2018 Iowa Legislative Session approaches, anti-homeschool rumblings can continually be heard.
High-profile individuals and organizations are calling for increased regulation and oversight for homeschooling families.
In a recent public forum and in a published editorial, the American Association of University Women addressed the topic of homeschooling in Iowa – especially Independent Private Instruction (IPI).
Some quotes from the AAUW position paper:
“Every child deserves to be safe and to receive a quality education. IPI is a homeschooling option that fails to guarantee either. Legislators created this problem – only they can fix it.”
“School-age kids have no political power and no voice. Responsible adults need to speak out on their behalf and demand repeal of IPI, or at a bare minimum, require health and safety visits that should cause no concern for a parent who is doing the right thing.”
The Des Moines Register has also called for the repeal of IPI – describing it in an August 4, 2017, editorial as the “fringe homeschooling option.”
Citing results from a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll of 800 Iowa adults (93% of whom reported they had no experience with homeschooling), the Register seeks increased oversight of Iowa homeschooled students.
Some Results from the Register Iowa Poll
of Persons Mostly Inexperienced with Homeschooling:
- Over 90% of the poll respondents thought that students being homeschooled in Iowa should be tested every year in reading and math.
- Almost 80% supported requiring homeschooling families to review their lesson plans with local public school homeschooling coordinators.
- Slightly under 70% favored requiring parents to take their homeschooled children to their local public schools for quarterly welfare checks.
Other than citing poll results and poll respondents' individual opinions, the Register did not provide additional evidence supporting its position.
For example, there were no statistics cited to show that annual testing of public school students ensures quality educational results. There was no evidence presented to justify the imposition of public school "welfare checks" on all homeschooled students.
In the August 4 editorial piece, the Register editorial staff opined:
“State lawmakers should recognize the overwhelming public support for minimal monitoring of home-schooled students — support that transcends religion, political affiliation and geography. Leaders should reverse a recent change in law that allows some kids to never learn a thing, let alone ever be tested.”
Iowa Legislation Targeting Homeschooling
Legislation was filed in the 2017 Session that would, if adopted, enact increased regulation and oversight of homeschooling families. At least one bill calls for the complete repeal of IPI and parent-taught driver education.
Because the Iowa Legislature operates under a two-year General Assembly, these bills will still be available for consideration by Iowa lawmakers when they convene their 2018 Legislative Session.
NICHE provides a listing of proposed legislation with the potential to affect Iowa homeschooling.
What can you do? Here are a few suggestions:
- Regularly check the legislation listing on the NICHE website
- Subscribe to the NICHE legislative updates email service
- Attend local forums discussing Iowa homeschooling
- Contact your Iowa legislators, thanking them for their service and asking them to protect homeschooling freedom in Iowa
- Plan to attend the Homeschool Iowa Capitol Day on March 13, 2018
- Support NICHE with your membership