May 27, 2013 By Hemant Mehta
This past week, the Iowa legislature passed House File 215, a bill that changes the way homeschooling is regulated. In short, it removes a good chunk of state oversight, leaving the education of homeschooled children completely in the hands of their parents — and Christian homeschooling families couldn’t be more thrilled (emphasis theirs):
HF 215 is truly a gift from God for homeschool families. [Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators] deserves a huge “THANK YOU” from the entire Iowa homeschool community for their awesome work spanning many years on [Independent Private Instruction].
So what are the big changes for homeschooling parents because of this bill?
- They don’t have to file basic paperwork with the state unless there’s a written request for it
- Children don’t need to be taught (or overseen) by a licensed teacher
- They don’t need to provide the state with any proof that progress has been made in a child’s education
- Homeschooled children do not need to be immunized
- Blood lead testing is not required for homeschooled children
- There’s no set number of days children have to be in school
- There are only four required subjects (Math, Science, Social Studies, Reading and Language arts) but no guidelines for what constitutes a real education in these subjects and little to no oversight to ensure any of this is actually happening
- They can now teach driver’s education, too
Libby Anne explains why all of this is such a problem:
… basically, if Governor [Terry] Branstad signs this law there will be nothing at all ensuring that homeschool parents in Iowa teach their children, and very little requirement that they actually teach anything in the first place.
30,000 children in Iowa are currently getting homeschooled. Not all of them come from Christian families, and not all the Christian families are going to provide their kids with a poor education. But we know from experience that many religious parents do not give kids anywhere close to the comprehensive, reality-based education they need to be successful in college (unless, of course, they go to a Christian-only college, in which case they’re likely to get a second dose of nonsense). This is absolutely irresponsible of Iowa’s elected officials and bad news for all the kids who will be affected by their parents’ incompetence.
The Home School Legal Defense Association, which supports all these changes, was very sneaky about how they got them in the final bill. In essence, they didn’t tell anyone they were lobbying for the changes — not even their own members. They didn’t ask homeschooling families to call their representatives in support of this bill because that might have tipped off the opposition. Because of their stealth approach, very few people were aware that these changes were taking place and opponents were unable to raise a fuss about it until it was too late.