State Representative Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City) sought signatures of her fellow members of her caucus to sign on to a bill, HF 2308. Her motive was relayed to Caffeinated Thoughts as she was overheard saying she wanted to “repeal all of that homeschooling crap” that was passed last legislative session.
The bill is officially dead as the Iowa House adjourned early due to inclement weather and the funnel deadline is tomorrow. It was never assigned a subcommittee.
The “homeschooling crap” that Steckman targeted was independent private instruction and parent-taught drivers education. Reforms negotiated with Democrats last year in exchange for passing a 4% increase to allowable growth in public school aid.
This bill is not a surprise as The Des Moines Register and liberals have criticized the new law since its passage. Homeschoolers are a growing demographic in Iowa, especially with the controversial Common Core State Standards being implemented in public schools and some private schools. It is a school option that is even growing in appeal even with liberals.
Steckman’s bill will serve as a reminder for homeschoolers to remain vigilant. Independent Private Instruction represents the freedom that homeschooling parents ultimately desire. They don’t have to register with local school districts and they don’t have to report to school districts as well. Iowa prior to the change in the law had more homeschooling regulations than even Illinois.
The bill and prevailing attitude behind it encapsulates a clash of worldview. Either one believes that the parent, not the state, is ultimately responsible for and has authority over the education of their child or they don’t. Iowa in passing independent private instruction didn’t grant homeschooling families a new right. They merely recognized and restored a right that was already theirs.
Steckman doesn’t recognize that right, and she isn’t alone. She had several co-sponors: State Representatives Patti Ruff (D-McGregor), Chris Hall (D-Sioux City), Dave Dawson (D-Sioux City), Cindy Winckler (D-Davenport), Dennis Cohoon (D-Burlington), Ruth Ann Gaines (D-Des Moines), Frank Wood (D-Eldridge), Ako Abdul-Samad (D-Des Moines), Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines), Vicki Lensing (D-Iowa City), Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk), Phyllis Thede (D-Bettendorf), Bruce Bearinger (D-Oelwein), and Pat Murphy (D-Dubuque).
It is likely that there will be similar amendments to education bills that are still active in the Iowa House, as well as, the Iowa Senate.