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.

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