byrnes-running-bill
Photo source: Iowa House Republicans

Nothing worse than homeschool parents trying to tell us legislators how to run public schools when they don’t use them themselves.”

One would think that quote is from a Democrat state legislator who desires to repeal all that “homeschooling crap.”  But you would be wrong.  That statement is from State Representative Josh Byrnes (R-Osage) in an email to Jeff Moorman of Iowa for Student Achievement.

Moorman was emailing state legislators asking them to oppose the bullying bill before the Iowa House.  Byrnes initially asked Moorman where his kids go to school.  When Moorman answered Byrnes’ question he replied:

That’s good.  I was making sure you didn’t he (sic) school.  Nothing worse than homeschool parents trying to tell us legislators how to run public schools when they don’t use them themselves.

I as a parent of 3 see absolutely nothing wrong with the anti-bullying bill.  It raises awareness to issue that continues to get worse instead of better.

It seems that the fact that homeschooling parents are taxpayers and that gives them the right to weigh-in on ANY bill – education policy or otherwise. Also when the majority of students go through public education we have a vested interest in public education regardless of where we educate our kids.

There’s “nothing worse” than a homeschooling parent expressing their opinion about public education? Actually there’s nothing worse than a state legislator demonstrating he lacks the maturity and temperament to serve in his current office.  Seriously, I can think of many things that are worse, like a gas tax increase getting ramrodded down our throats, but I digress.

It should be noted that the policies and laws passed by the state legislature or, more accurately, inaction by the legislature to reign in an out-of-touch, unelected state school board pushes many parents to decide to homeschool to begin with.

Then on the topic of the bill Moorman wrote Byrnes about, nowhere in the language of the bill does it restrict the school’s scope to just students enrolled in their school district.  Homeschooling parents have reason to be concerned.

Any state legislator who believes that homeschoolers lose their voice about education policy simply because they choose to sacrifice to provide a quality education for their children doesn’t deserve to remain in office.  Iowa House District 51 can do better.

You can see the email exchange below.  Moorman’s email address and his answer about what schools his children attend have been blacked out to maintain some privacy.  This is published with his permission.  You can click on the picture to read a larger version.

2015-05-02 Byrnes Email

Update: It should be helpful to remind you of these other tidbits from Byrnes’ record.

  • He walked out of a subcommittee meeting last year when members of the public were talking about Common Core.
  • He has been an advocate of the Common Core State Standards and a roadblock to anti-Common Core legislation, even making it out of subcommittee.
  • He advocated to pass the broadband bill so that school districts can offer Smarter Balanced.
  • He was the lead advocate for increasing Iowa’s fuel excise tax.

2nd Update: Byrnes “clarifies” after being called out on Facebook by one of his constitutents.  I doubt this will satisfy many people.

“I am a public school teacher and feel that our public schools do a great job. If you don’t use the system, why would you weigh in on public policy pertaining to schools and try to obstruct legislation? I have supported home schooling legislation in the past and have supported school choice. I will always be an advocate for public school systems,” Byrnes told Tony Krebsbach on Facebook.

He still seems to be obtuse about the larger point, and he was called out on it.

HT: The Iowa Statesman

3rd Update: On the same Facebook thread mentioned above Byrnes responds to me:

Shane, you are so out of touch. I represent a group of constituents. I don’t represent a faction of a party. I win elections in a district in which its hard to win as a Republican…why? Because I represent constituents and do what’s right for the majority of my people. Do you think your far right thoughts and comments represent all of the Republican Party? Absolutely not. I am a pro business, pro economy, pro common sense Republican.

4th Update: Byrnes apologizes in same Facebook thread.

“My apologies to the homeschool community. That was not my intention. Bad statement out of frustration of a bill not moving forward.”

Is it a bad statement because it is offensive and illogical or a bad statement because he took a bunch of flak?  The fact he would say something like this says much about his worldview.  I get he is a public school teacher, and if he would actually read what I write about Common Core he would find I’m not anti-public school.  I think there needs to be changes certainly, but what I fail to recognize is how anti-bully bills, Common Core advocacy, etc. is being pro-public school?  Especially when I encounter teachers all of the time who are tired of the loss of local control and disagree with him re. the quality of the standards.

No. His default position is to trash homeschoolers who have an opinion when challenged on a bill that has problems.

16 comments
  1. Would appear pretty hypocritical since those in public schools never have any problem “weighing in” on home schoolers. Plus home school parents are still tax payers that fund public schools if I am not mistaken.

  2. Byrnes’ comment reflects a pretty narrow view of homeschooling in Iowa too. Some homeschoolers participate in public school district home school assistance programs, dual enroll their children in public schools, or home school some years and enroll their children in public schools other years.

  3. I also find it interesting that Byrnes did not address ANY of the concerns that the parent raised. Parent – well thought out email Byrnes – 1) You better not homeschool 2) I don’t care what you think. I like the bill. Seriously????

  4. Why do you think so many parents homeschool now? Could it possibly be due to bullying and not just bullying induced by students but the staff, administration or legislators. Wake up and do you drink coffee? If you feel that way, I will be more than happy NOT to pay 2.500.00 + a year in taxes to the school district!!!!!!!!! I would prefer to use those funds for homeschool.

    1. I think ALL public school taxes should go away and all schools should be privatized — let schools work like a business model – let parents pay with their own money to which schools they want their children. The schools will figure it out real quick how to teach and keep students or they will close.

  5. The public school system in Iowa failed my children and the Republican party failed me. We have left both. Does that mean I no longer have a say in legislation? I do pay taxes and the laws Rep. Byrnes and his Republican cronies pass do affect my life. But I guess my views are too far right for the current Republican leadership.

    Consider this: if I had no children at all, does that take me out of the discussion altogether? Or do I get a pass because I am former public school teacher? If we must have children in the public school system in order to be part of the discussion then every state legislator who does not have a child in the public school system should abstain from voting on any K-12 legislation.

  6. TALK ABOUT HUBRIS. This is a terrible way for Mr. Byrnes to represent himself to the people he represents in Des Moines. Would the person who emailed him in opposition to the bill been completely unworthy of any kind of response altogether if he HAD been a homeschool parent? The pomposity of Rep. Byrnes response tells me yes.

    I’m also bothered that when responding about the bill itself, Rep. Byrnes was not willing to appropriately engage the constituent by explaining his opposing viewpoint on the anti-bullying bill. “I see absolutely nothing wrong with it” is not a sufficient response. It is a rude, dismissive one. The legislators in both my House and Senate district and I agree on almost nothing. Yet, when I email them, both of them take the time to illustrate their differing viewpoint and politely explain their reasoning. I’m a very active Iowa Republican, and I know that SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG when one can expect more compassion out of Rob Hogg than out of Representative Byrnes. Shame on him. This was a failure on his part.

    1. Talk about narrow minded!!! Some of us have kids in public AND homeschool, pay taxes and will weigh in on whatever matter we want to!!!!!!! BTW the almighty public schools failed my kid too!!! IOWA…..WE HAVE A PROBLEM!!!!!

  7. Run that one by me again. There’s “nothing worse” than taxpayers weighing in on what they’re paying for?

    When my local, state, or federal taxes are involved, you’d better believe that I get a say about highways on which I don’t drive, city parks that I never visit because I live across town, wars in which I don’t personally take up arms, state universities that I don’t attend, and national parks in which I’ve never set foot.

    If you want my money, my voice comes with it.

  8. We are compelled at gunpoint to subsidize Byrnes’ beloved government school. I can think of many things I’d rather spend the money on.
    I am a survivor of sixteen years in the public school system. This was the major reason I resolved never to send any of my children to a government school..l

  9. another hippocritter.

    keep calling him out. keep him on the defensive until he needs to surrender.

  10. and where do the children get the ideas and examples for bullying? it isn’t just the kids, and maybe more so the adults. after all, I doubt there is one case where a kid initiated an investigation – and pressed charges – disguised as a principal, police officer or child protection hypocrite.

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