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Branstad Applauds Freedom from Government Oversight for Home Schools

Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds with home-schooled kids. Pictured are the children of Rebekah and Andy Hight of Urbandale and Trisha and Todd Scott of Des Moines.

Governor Branstad Tuesday reminisced about the history of home-schooling in Iowa, in an address to homeschool families in town for their annual Day at the Capitol.  

Branstad told a crowd of about 300 parents and children that Iowa is known for its supportive environment for home schools.   

He recalls the 1991 legislation to legalize homeschooling in Iowa:

Credit Joyce Russell/IPR
Poster for Homeschool Iowa Day at the Capitol

“I had the honor of signing the bill that made homeschooling without a teaching certificate legal  in Iowa,” Branstad said.  “I didn't want to see conscientious families face the prospect of having to break the law.”

That law imposed certain requirements on homeschools including an annual assessment. 

Branstad touted the 2013 law that went on to eliminate government oversight as one option for homeschools.    

“As part of the landmark education reform package I signed a bill that gave families the freedom to choose a variety of pathways for homeschooling of their children,” Branstad said.  “That includes independent private instruction with no government regulation.”  

Some critics say that law goes too far, and some have called for government inspections of home schools to ensure children are not being abused.

Credit Joyce Russell/IPR
Families at the annual Homeschool Day at the Capitol

Last year, a 16-year old girl Natalie Finn of West Des Moines died after years of alleged abuse by her parents.   Natalie had been homeschooled.

A bill at the statehouse this year would mandate inspection of home schools.

“It’s not a homeschool issue,” said Bill Gustoff, legislative liaison for the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators.   “It’s a DHS issue."

Branstad said families may benefit from legislation under consideration at the statehouse to clear the way for more students to enroll in  online schools.