A proposed Iowa bill would require that homeschool families allow school and government officials into their homes to conduct health and wellness checks on their children. Introduced by Democrat State Representative Mary Mascher, H.F. 272 would mandate that homeschoolers report in regularly to local public school district officials, or face visits from social-service agents and other government officials.
Reads the text of the bill: “The board of directors of a school district shall conduct quarterly home visits to check on the health and safety of children located within the district who are receiving independent private instruction or private instruction.”
The bill stipulates that such visits “shall take place in the child’s residence with the consent of the parent, guardian, or legal custodian and an interview or observation of the child may be conducted.” For parents who do not consent to such an intrusion, a juvenile or other court “may authorize the person making the home visit to enter the home and interview or observe the child.”
Shane Vander Hart, a contributor to Truth in American Education and blogger at CaffeinatedThoughts.com, noted that H.F. 272 “essentially puts homeschooling families on the level of parents who have been accused or have had a finding of child abuse or neglect.”
Vander Hart also quoted Scott Woodruff, senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, who pointed out that “in addition to resurrecting long-dead paperwork requirements for homeschool families,” the Iowa bill “treats them all like criminals.”
Woodruff added that the legislative effort is a huge waste of resources. “Without explaining who is going to pay for it — with school and child protective personnel already stretched beyond the breaking point — [Mascher] wants to command that state agents come into the homes of every single homeschool family in the state four times a year. In what world do we waste money poking into the homes of thousands of people when there is not the slightest reason to believe an individual has done anything wrong? When people who believe that the government can, and should, solve all problems, this is the kind of utopian dream they dream. Dreams like that only get us closer to an Orwellian world.”
Steven Craig Policastro of the group International Association for Creation, a prominent homeschool proponent and sponsor of the annual National Homeschool Day, said that such legislation is part of a growing trend in many states to saddle homeschool families with oppressive regulations. “Opponents of home education have realized that since they are unable to make homeschooling illegal, they can at least attempt to place extremely burdensome regulations on parent-led, home education to make it difficult or nearly impossible,” Policastro told the Christian Post.
He added that there are “constant attempts by school districts all over the country to require things of homeschool students and parents that are not required by law. There are times in which the school districts do not properly know the law, but in other instances the school board leaders do not care and they want their regulations mandated regardless of the law.”
Israel Wayne of Family Renewal, a Christian family and homeschool ministry, confirmed the uptick in legislation and efforts by states to harass homeschool families. “Almost every year, in almost every state legislature, bills are introduced in the various education committees seeking to increase regulations over all homeschoolers,” Wayne told the Christian Post. Such intrusion “does not increase academic performance in any way,” he said. “It merely serves to create unnecessary hassle and needless government red-tape for homeschooling parents who are doing what is best for their students.”
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