(Des Moines, IA) The Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE) will hold its 2011 “Homeschool Day at the Capitol” on Wednesday, March 23. The event, which attracted nearly 900 attendees last year, is held annually to help homeschooling families effectively communicate and build relationships with their elected officials. Featured speakers this year will include Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, radio talk show host and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, Iowa Congressman Steve King, Texas Congressman Ron Paul and Federal Judge William Wagner.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the competent private instruction (homeschooling) law in Iowa, and NICHE is focusing on a new initiative — “It’s Time to Simplify” — with two companion bills that would simplify what is one of the most complex homeschooling laws in the nation by proposing an additional option for families: Independent Private Instruction (HF 588 and SF 160)

National studies over two decades have consistently shown homeschooled students to excel an average of 15 to 30 points higher than their public school counterparts in standardized tests. Studies also show that homeschooled students excel in every area, from socialization to citizenship to college and career. To highlight the success of homeschooling, NICHE has invited an array of national speakers who support the freedom of families to homeschool without government interference.

Activities will begin at 9 a.m. in the West and North Wings of the Capitol Rotunda where families will be guided on how to call out their legislators from the chambers to meet them personally. Homeschooling exhibits will be displayed in the rotunda. Additionally, tours of the Capitol, provided by Capitol Tour Guides, will be available in the morning on a first-come, first-served basis, with two tours of the Iowa judicial Building also available.

A noon outdoor rally (12-12:45 p.m.) will be held on the Capitol’s west mall, with introductions of Iowa legislators who were homeschooled themselves or are homeschooling their children. Judge Wagner will present an update on the state of parental rights and the other three guest speakers — Congresswoman Bachmann, Congressman Paul and business leader Cain — will give an introduction to their afternoon speeches, which will take place a few blocks away at the Embassy Suites.

Following the noon rally, activities will reconvene at 1:30 pm. at the Embassy Suites ballroom (101 E Locust St.), with free shuttle bus service provide by NICHE. Governor Branstad will kick off the afternoon session with a welcome and comments on the new homeschooling bills in the Legislature. The afternoon guest speakers will include Congresswoman Bachmann, Business Leader Cain, Iowa Congressman Steve King and Congressman Paul addressing homeschooling freedoms. Judge Wagner, speaking on parental rights, will discuss how parents can protect their families from pending law that would shift decision-making authority from parents to government officials. Iowa legislators, including House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, will give brief presentations between the keynote speakers.

More information on the event, and online registration, is available at the following link:

https://www.homeschooliowa.org/2011capitolday.html

Formed in 1992, NICHE is Iowa’s only statewide homeschooling organization providing support and information to home educating families and groups through a variety of events and resources, including an annual conference; a formal graduation service; a newsletter, e-newsletter and magazine; legislative services; and multi-faceted assistance to local homeschooling groups and individual families.

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