Iowa’s Homeschool Regulations Protect Children

I just came upon a fascinating illustration of exactly why we need homeschooling laws like Iowa’s. In fact, it’s a concrete example of the good Iowa’s regulations actually do for children. And when I read the stories of what can happen when states don’t have oversight of homeschooling or when existing laws are not enforced, well, it’s good to hear a positive story like this one.

The Iowa Story

The Iowa Department of Human Services first began investigating accused child-endangerer and homeschool dad Jon Neely when his daughter failed to show up for a public school test required by Iowa homeschool regulations.

Later they found his 10-year-old daughter, weighing 59 pounds, locked in a dark room with no furniture or light while her father and his girl friend were out. The couple were charged with child endangerment for leaving the girl with no escape in case of fire.

Quotes from a February 23 Des Moines Register story suggest that Jon Neely hated this child that he had had with his just-divorced wife:

Jon Neely told police he had taken out the light bulbs in the room because his daughter was being punished. He said he had removed all of the furniture because his daughter “breaks everything,” according to the warrant.

Police also reported in the document that Neely later said his daughter “peed on everything and she steals.”

The Iowa case was nipped in the bud because of the quick reaction of government officials when the girl did not show up for a test required by the Iowa homeschool law. According to an AP story, Iowa Governor Vilsack reviewed the case and “says that appropriate measures were taken.”

This example is provided in the newsletter of a Pennsylvania homeschooling group that believes that some level of homeschool regulation—most particularly, contact between homeschooled children and outside evaluators—is in children’s best interests and is something homeschool parents should support as “a way to protect homeschooled children and at the same time protect our own reputation.”

The Iowa homeschool laws that enabled officials to nip this case of child abuse in the bud are currently on the brink of being eliminated, their repeal having been tacked onto an educational reform bill by opportunists who care more about saving parents from any shred of paperwork than about safeguarding the best interests of homeschooled children. The only chance that remains to keep these laws is to convince the governor to do a line item veto of the particular section that repeals them. The governor’s office is closed for the weekend, but make sure to pick up the phone and call first thing on Tuesday—and spread the word, especially to friends or relatives who may live in Iowa! Here is an article with more information.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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