Iowa Legislature Approves Landmark Home Education Legislation



iowa-state-capitol-domeThe Iowa Legislature yesterday afternoon approved significant education liberty items when the Iowa House voted 91-0 and the Iowa Senate 40-10 to pass the conference committee report released by the joint House-Senate education reform conference committee.  Governor Terry Branstad is expected to sign the legislation.

In particular was the landmark home education deregulation that sends Iowa from being a state with moderate regulation (3rd tier, only three states have worse laws) to one of the best according to criteria given by the Home School Legal Defense Association.  The specific home education measures approved by the Iowa Legislature are:

  • Optional reporting under Competent Private Instruction.  Home schooling families are no longer required to submit Competent Private Instruction forms (CPI) or assessments to their local school district.  They can if they like, but they don’t have to.  Families can still participate in dual enrollment or home school assistance programs (HSAP) if they like.
  • Independent Private Instruction – This eliminates annual reporting to the state, but also allows up to four unrelated students to participate in home schooling.
  • Parent-taught Drivers Instruction – Parents are no long required to send their children to drivers education, but can teach their children themselves if they prefer.

Bill Gustoff, the Legislative Liaison for the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators, said, “The passage of House File 215 marks the beginning of a new era of home school freedom in Iowa.  Home school parents will be able to teach their children in the one subject that still required certified instruction outside the home – driver education.  It also removes barriers and costs for those desiring to educate their children at home.  Not only does it affirm that parents have a right to oversee the education of their children, but it will now be possible and easier for foster parents, single mothers and fathers, and other modern-day families to use this great educational option.”

Non-public schools also had an important measure that was approved with this bill.

  • Independent Accreditation for Non-Public Schools –  This allows a non-public school to seek third party accreditation and still benefit from the school tuition organizations (people who donate get tax credits), transportation reimbursement, textbook reimbursement fund for non-religious text books, AEA support (cost sharing for media, professional developed, etc.).  Prior to this to receive these benefits schools had to be accredited through the Iowa Department of Education which then opened these schools up to mandates – like having to adopt the Iowa Core (which is aligned to the Common Core).  This frees accredited non-public schools from this and other requirements placed upon them by the State.  The Senate Democrats during negotiations did add a seven-year sunset, but I believe it will be renewed as non-public schools will be able to prove that this works.

Brian L”Heureux, President of the Iowa Association of Christian Schools addressed the independent accreditation measure and how it impacts schools he represents, “We are extremely pleased that, after many years of effort and prayers, we were able to see this passed as part of the Education Reform package this year!  Independent Accreditation will allow us to choose the accrediting body that meets the needs of our schools, and will allow us to serve our students with accrediting partners that understand our unique role and mission as Christian non-public schools.  We are blessed to have Eric Goranson as a lobbyist.”

The House Republicans were able to keep all of the provisions they had asked for in negotiations.  In return they agreed to 4% allowable growth in the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 school years and raised the minimum salary for teachers to $33,500.

Regardless of those provisions Republicans celebrated the bill.  “The Republican Party of Iowa is proud to have taken a bold stand for our platform in advocating that advancing educational freedom be a non-negotiable part of any discussion of comprehensive education reform,” said A.J. Spiker, Iowa GOP Chair.

Iowa GOP Co-Chair, David Fischer, added, “The Republican Party of Iowa is committed to advancing our conservative principles as reflected in our platform.  Education freedom is a foundational part of our platform and we were proud to play a role in advocating for non-public education alternatives to be made simpler and more affordable for Iowa families.  We know competition and a free market is what rewards excellence and innovation and will result in the best outcomes for Iowa’s kids.”

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  • CVN 76

    Quite frankly…why are Spiker and Fischer acting like they had anything to do with educational reforms that came out of the Legislature? The people that should be thanked are Kraig Paulsen and Bill Dix and their leadership in the GOP caucus in the House and Senate for holding firm.

    • http://shanevanderhart.com/ Shane Vander Hart

      This really wasn’t meant to be a congratulatory piece – a lot of credit to go around.

  • Pam Sparks

    AWESOME! Thank you to all the people that have worked so hard over the years to make this happen! Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU!

  • noaccountability

    Oh barf. Now, parents have no accountability whatsoever to make sure they are doing the right thing when it comes to educating their children. While most homeschool kids do very well, there is a small but significant fringe out there who don’t let their kids socialize with other kids and who are several grade levels behind their peers. Now, a parent can deny a kid an education through grade 12 and the state has no way to remedy that neglect. Also, driver education instructors have specific training on how to remediate specific driving deficits learned through rigorous training in college courses required to get the endorsement. In addition, the state requires an extra brake, two mirrors, a certain amount of instruction time, driving time, etc. Now homeschooled students don’t have to abide by the same laws and get the same training as everyone else? That should be great for safety. So glad the Republicans held up education funding to cater to a fringe group that doesn’t want to follow the law like everyone else.

    • teacher mom

      SERIOUSLY – I’m an educator – there was NO ‘rigorous training’ for drivers Ed instructors – in fact when >> I << took drivers ed, the teacher was KNOWN to be the least proficient driver on the school staff – he wrecked the school band's touring bus later that year! Give me a break!! And if you want to barf, why don't you take a look at all the kids that are IN the public schools who are not properly 'socialized' and who are 'not up to standard'. Give me a break – if you are going to judge all homeschoolers based on a 'significant fringe' you better be ready for people to judge the public school system based on the same standard – and if we start doing that, there will QUICKLY be a tax-related revolt of some sort – people would want to know what their money is going to if there are *gasp* children that *gasp* FAIL?!?! oh MY!!!!

      What IS it with people who have a problem with parents wanting to actually take their own child's education seriously enough to invest time and energy into doing it themselves? I did not learn ANYTHING in four years of college, getting multiple degrees in education, that prepared me to be a better teacher than the one that I am with my children, it was ALL classroom management, and educational theory. How does THAT help me know how to convey the concept of place value to the little girl who is struggling because we are trying to teach kids these things before their brains have developed enough to understand them. Do we expect 'professionals' to help us teach our children to talk, walk, use the potty, trust? Those are all things we are all (well MOST of us) able to teach our children without 'professional training' – why do 'reading' and 'math' have to be so much harder?? They aren't. The only thing that makes a teacher's job so hard is we expect them to do it with 30 kids at once. Give any semi-intelligent adult ONE child to teach and basic materials for teaching it, and 80-90% of the population can pull it off.

      Personally, in my opinion, if you want to find the parents who are neglecting their children, why don't you look in the public school system, where the school is OFTEN used as free babysitting, and the teacher is expected to 'fix' all the problems for the 'parent' – don't EVEN get me started!

    • teacherturnedhomeschool

      What about those who get a drivers lic simply because they hit the age all they have to do is pass a test like everyone else who takes drivers ed. They don’t take any drivers ed at all and still are out there driving. The kid I drove with in my class went backwards on the interstate because he missed his exit and other mishaps and got an A on his paper so not much educating there. I see kids who are dropping out at age 16 and welfare and neglect are on a rise even with students who are going through public schools so a lot good that education has done there. I know a man who made it to the 11th grade and can’t spell or read the words my third grader can. Not all public schools are bad and many go through it well but to say that homeschoolers will crash the system with it’s un-educated students because their parents don’t have to fill out paperwork is silly. If they are neglecting their kids it will be found eventually with or without paperwork. I graduated with an education degree and the only thing we have been taught differently than others with college degrees is how to babysit students whose parents think that the education system should raise their kids because they are too busy with themselves to do it. Literally we have classes on how to insert education into the day because of the babysitting you have to do and teaching basic skills like how to listen or take turns things that should be taught in a home. Don’t get me started on the bullying that goes on within a week at my daughters school one kid had his pants pulled down, another was made fun of for being smart, and a girl was asked to suck another boys peepee for twenty bucks. This is a class at a school that has most of it’s students with middle or higher class families so it can’t be put off as neglectful poor parents as many of the people I talk to try to place it. It has high test score reports but the kids I talk to have no retention what so ever. I am homeschooling our kids next year simply because I no longer want these influences in their life. It isn’t a religious thing with us or people I talk to anymore it’s a get off your lazy butt, get over selfishness, and raise your kids thing. Stop thinking test scores means they are learning.