State Representative Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) introduced a bill late last week that would roll back every gain made by Iowa’s homeschooling community.
Her bill, HF 182, would eliminate Iowa’s independent private instruction law. Passed in 2013, Independent Private Instruction allows parents of students who are of compulsory school age, who do not attend a public school or accredited private school, to not report their intent to homeschool to their local school district. They also do not have to provide an assessment, portfolio or have a supervisory teacher that were requirements under the Competent Private Instruction law that before 2013 was the only way families could legally homeschool in Iowa.
The Competent Private Instruction law was expanded in 2013 to also give parents the ability to opt-out of reporting even if they choose to notify their local school district of their intent to homeschool by providing a CPI form. Mascher’s bill eliminates that option as well.
Parent-taught drivers’ education, passed in 2013, will also be eliminated by this bill. Without this freedom, homeschooling students are required to attend drivers’ education at their local public school or through a private, accredited driver education program which can be difficult for rural homeschooling families.
Mascher’s bill is not the first time Iowa House Democrats have attempted to eliminate independent private instruction. State Representative Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City) has also sponsored bills in the past, one of which Mascher co-sponsored.
Last year, Mascher offered an amendment that would have replaced the Keep and Bear Arms Amendment to the Iowa Constitution with a “right to education” constitutional amendment. Her amendment, if passed, would have effectively ended private education and homeschooling in Iowa.
Joe Bailey, President of the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE) criticized the bill. “(We support) the God-given right of parents to direct the education of their children. Democrat State Rep. Mary Masher’s bill (HF182) attacks that fundamental right. Rather than supporting Iowa’s current laws that defend the right of parents to homeschool their children, the bill seeks to erode this freedom by placing all minor children under the control of the state when it comes to educational options,” he said.
“This attack on parental rights is abhorrent to the Laws of Nature, to the teachings of Holy Scripture, and to the principles of American freedom. Our state motto is: ‘Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.’ We call on every legislator in the Statehouse to vote against HF182,” Bailey added.
“Representative Mascher’s HF 182 seeks to roll the clock back to a time when wasteful red tape clogged Iowa homeschool families. She wants to abolish one of the major reforms enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2013—she wants to evaporate Independent Private Instruction. The protection and expansion of individual freedoms is a bipartisan issue. Her bill will not succeed,” Scott Woodruff, senior counsel for Home S Legal Defense Association, told Caffeinated Thoughts.
Currently, the Iowa State Education Association has registered support for the bill while The FAMiLY Leader has registered their opposition.
The bill has been assigned to a subcommittee that includes State Representatives Norlin Mommsen (R-DeWitt), Holly Brink (R-Oskaloosa), and Heather Matson (D-Ankeny).