Iowa State Senator Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) is moving to amend a homeschool friendly bill (as amended in its current form), SF 423, to also include independent private instruction language from HF 588.

Bill Gustoff, the legislative liaison for NICHE (Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators) and Scott Woodruff from HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) explain what the key elements for this law include:

Nature of Education. Allows private or religious instruction that is not accredited.
Subjects. Requires instruction in mathematics, reading and language arts, science, and social studies.
Permitted Students. Allows up to four unrelated students, and no tuition, fees, or other remuneration is permitted. This allows, for example, a step-mother to educate her step-children or a grandmother to education her grandchildren.
Reporting and Assessment. An annual statement naming the primary instructor, location, name of authority responsible for the IPI, and the names of the students will be furnished if requested by the local school district. There is no other assessment or regulation, which has worked well in other states (see below).

    Iowa’s current competent private instruction law passed in 1991 while moderate with its regulations (states like California, Pennsylvania, and New York have more rigorous homeschooling regulations) it is complex in its application.  There are currently three levels of control in Iowa which statues, administrative rules and the Iowa Department of Education’s “Competent Private Instruction Handbook.”  Sometimes these layers conflict with one another.

    The complexity doesn’t help student performance, and in many cases makes it worse, and then there is the cost of all of this regulation to consider, Gustoff and Woodruff note that there are administrative costs (somebody is paid to keep track of all the regulation), family costs (paying supervisory teachers or paying assessment fees) and it may even keep people from moving to Iowa as homeschooling families take into consideration homeschooling laws before making a move.  I can personally attest to that.  When we have ever looked at an employment opportunity out-of-state, we have ruled some positions out because of that state’s restrictive homeschooling laws.

    Like I said before, Iowa’s are not great, but there are states that are worse.  There are also neighboring states which have better laws.  The Independent Private Instruction law would mirror those states like Missouri, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.  Kansas and Illinois also have some of the simplest laws in the country.  If a homeschooling family moves to the Quad Cities – which side of the Mississippi River do you think they’d prefer to live as our homeschooling law stands today?

    Senator Dix’s amendment would help make homeschooling laws simpler.  Gustoff and Woodruff explain, “Since complex laws don’t help children, cause significant administrative expense, and drive families away from Iowa, it is in Iowa’s best interest to legislate a dramatically simpler method of complying with the homeschool laws.”

    The Independent Private Instruction statute meets these requirements, so I encourage you to contact your Senator today and tell them to vote yes on Senator Dix’s amendment to HF 423.

    Update: A little birdie up at the Statehouse told me that focusing on these particular Senators may bear fruit as they have been the most apt to go along with homeschool/school choice measures and/or they serve a district where the constituents are more supportive of measures such as these.  They are…

    Home School Legal Defense Association also included…

    Also let’s melt the Senate switchboard at (515) 281-3371.

    2nd Update: Senator Dix’s clerk just emailed me with the amendment number – S 3182 be sure to include that with any email or phone correspondence.

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