The Des Moines Register posted bill progress on a move to free up Iowa home educators from bureaucratic busy-ness. The homeschoolers’ freedom hinges on an education reform package agreement between the two major political parties.
Home schooling tripping up education reform
Efforts to improve public education face a move to also alter parent-led instruction
By Jason Noble
Home schooling — and specifically three proposed changes to the state law regulating it — has emerged as a key division between Democrats and Republicans working to craft a compromise over K-12 reforms.
Both sides recognize it as one of the few remaining issues standing between them and passage of legislation that all sides say they support and that Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has made a personal crusade. House and Senate leaders have not yet negotiated language in earnest in an attempt to broker agreement.
Talking points are also being laid out.
One of the measures would allow home-school parents to teach their children driver education, while another would allow home-school educators to teach up to four unrelated students. The most controversial, though, would remove requirements currently in law for home-schoolers to file paperwork with their local school district and to undergo testing by an independent teacher. Results are reported back to the district.
Even with the requirements, some children slip through the cracks with too little education — raising questions about what could happen if they went away entirely, said Mary Gannon, attorney for the Iowa Association of School Boards.
The above IA-SB‘s argument is frequently used by anti-homeschool freedom proponents, even as the same often have high levels of interest/activity in public schools discouraging a large number of students’ educations. Forget cracks, these children are thrown into public school chasms. The success ratio logically speaks to taking care of one’s own backyard before worrying about homeschoolers. Besides, the Iowa Association of School Boards could take a lesson from the Illinois Association of School Boards. They rejected a local Illinois school board proposal for homeschoolers to “take the same assessment tests as those required for public school students.” As pointed out in this current Des Moines Register article, Illinois home educators don’t have the stringent regulations Iowa homeschoolers currently have and most importantly, learning achievements have not suffered.
The Pool family pictured above, are hoping the home education option will be opened up to more families.
The reforms now before the Legislature appear to simply be offering the opportunity for other families to do the same, they said. The provision allowing parents to teach unrelated students, for example, could make home schooling more available to the children of single parents.
“The road should be paved much easier,” Tamara Pool said. “We shouldn’t be putting roadblocks in the way for people to have that choice.”
Instead, the Iowa School Board Association is concerned about a minority of a minority of privately educated (and funded) children’s education, rather than focusing on the big picture.
“We have had first-hand evidence of these students not getting the appropriate education they need to be getting,” she said. “I don’t think that’s the majority of home-schoolers by any means, but I don’t know how you pick and choose who’s going to do a good job and who’s not.”
Don’t pick and choose from privately educated (and funded) homeschoolers. As scope and sequences vary in different subjects, let the gaps be filled in when necessary.
Iowa State Education Association‘s accountability concerns below divert from the bottom-line of learning success. Besides my repeated notion of tax payers expecting results from tax-paid public school teachers and school systems.
ISEA Executive Director Mary Jane Cobb noted that while other aspects of the reform package are aimed at improving accountability of public school teachers with new evaluation procedures, the home-school language does the opposite.
“It seems to me to be a really odd mix of strong accountability on our public school teachers but much, much less accountability on home-school parents,” she said.
Homeschool parents answer to their beloved children and family. The level of responsibility should be noted and is extreme. This battle will be interesting, as these legislators show themselves to their voting bases.