Last Chance to Stop the Iowa Homeschool Law Repeal!

It turns out that there is one last chance to stop the repeal of Iowa’s reporting and assessment requirement. While the house and senate have passed it, the governor hasn’t signed it yet—though he is expected to. Remember that it’s an all-encompassing education reform bill, most of which I assume is very good. Here is a link to the entire bill, which is named House File 215. The section of concern is Division XI. Iowa allows a line item veto. That means the governor could veto a specific portion of the bill and sign the rest into law.

The person to call is Governor Terry Branstad. His number is 515-281-5211.

If you call, explain that you want a line item veto of Division XI of House File 215, and explain why. Explain that Division XI would make it optional for homeschooling parents to file annual paperwork notifying the school district of their intent to homeschool, and optional for homeschool parents to have their children participate in annual assessments. Explain why you oppose eliminating these requirements (some of these posts may help). If you were yourself homeschooled, or are a homeschool parent, or have known homeschoolers, say that and explain how that informs how you feel about this bill.

I hope you’ll consider calling. I am under no illusions about this, but if nothing else, perhaps Governor Branstad will pause and think twice before signing the bill in its entirety. And that alone is something I would consider a success.

For those of you who want more details, let me add a few additional points. Currently in Iowa, homeschooling is called Competent Private Instruction, or CPI. Everyone going this route must file a form with their school districts each year. Then they have two options—they can homeschool under a supervising teacher, or they can go without that and instead have their children participate in annual assessments. There are several different assessment options; in each, students must demonstrate that they are making academic progress. Division XI of House File 215 would change this by differentiating between “Competent Private Instruction” and “Private Instruction.” Competent Private Instruction would mean homeschooling under a supervising teacher, and that option would still require filing the current paper work, and the current requirements of the supervising teacher (there are evaluations they have to turn in) would remain in place. Private Instruction would mean the parents homeschooling without any sort of supervisory authority over them, and while those taking this option could technically still file the form and do the assessment, changing the word “shall” to “may” makes those things optional and not mandatory. So you can read it for yourself, here is the text of Division XI of House Bill 215:

DIVISION XI

PRIVATE INSTRUCTION EXEMPTION

Sec. 102. Section 299.4, subsection 1, Code 2013, is amended to read as follows: 1. The parent, guardian, or legal custodian of a child who is of compulsory attendance age, who places the child under competent private instruction under either section 299A.2 or 299A.3, not in an accredited school or a home school assistance program operated by a school district or accredited nonpublic school, shall furnish a report in duplicate on forms provided by the public school district, to the district by the earliest starting date specified in section 279.10, subsection 1. The secretary shall retain and file one copy and forward the other copy to the district’s area education agency. The report shall state the name and age of the child, the period of time during which the child has been or will be under competent private instruction for the year, an outline of the course of study, texts used, and the name and address of the instructor. The parent, guardian, or legal custodian of a child, who is placing the child under competent private instruction for the first time, shall also provide the district with evidence that the child has had the immunizations required under section 139A.8, and, if the child is elementary school age, a blood lead test in accordance with section 135.105D. The term “outline of course of study” shall include subjects covered, lesson plans, and time spent on the areas of study.

Sec. 103. Section 299A.1, unnumbered paragraph 2, Code 2013, is amended to read as follows: For purposes of this chapter, “competent private instruction” means private instruction provided on a daily basis for at least one hundred forty-eight days during a school year, to be met by attendance for at least thirty-seven days each school quarter, by or under the supervision of a licensed practitioner in the manner provided under section 299A.2, or other person under section 299A.3, which results in the student making adequate progress.

Sec. 104. Section 299A.3, unnumbered paragraph 1, Code 2013, is amended to read as follows: A parent, guardian, or legal custodian of a child of compulsory attendance age providing competent private instruction to the child shall may meet all of the following requirements:

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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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