arents in Iowa can homeschool their children with
relative freedom today. Was that always the case?
The answer is: “No.”
How was the recognition of the freedom to homeschool
won in our state? The answer is: “It was won through the
diligent efforts of dedicated parents.”
There are literally hundreds of stories to document those
efforts, but we’d like to share just one in particular as we
prepare to commemorate our 25th NICHE anniversary.
Return with us to the late 1980’s. At that time, Iowa law
did not recognize private instruction by persons other
than Iowa licensed teachers. A number of parents had
been homeschooling in Iowa, several of whom faced
prosecution and potential removal of their children under
Child In Need of Assistance (CINA) threats.
In 1989, the Iowa Senate passed Senate File 149, a bill
labeled as a truancy prevention measure. A prominent
homeschool leader at that time described the bill: “[SF
149] allows and compels the county attorney to go di-
rectly to juvenile court and file a petition to remove tru-
ant children under the child in need of assistance portion
of the Iowa code. No educational neglect may be taking
place. In fact, the child could be excelling, but the child
could be taken from the home and placed elsewhere. This
bill would lower the compulsory attendance age to six (6)
and raise it to eighteen (18). We have very strong evidence
that anti-home school intent was at the origin of this bill.”
Home educators raised objections to the bill, and, by
God’s grace, the 1989 Iowa Legislature adjourned without
passing SF 149. Unfortunately, the bill was still eligible for
consideration by the 1990 legislature – at the very point
to which it had progressed at the end of the 1989 session.
As the 1990 legislative session approached, various home-
schoolers prepared for the coming opportunity to enact
legislation for homeschoolers in Iowa. One group in par-
ticular, the Dallas County Homeschool Support Group, be-
gan meeting regularly to discuss options and plans.
On January 6, 1990, before the legislative session opened,
the Dallas County Home School Support Group invited
their legislators to a group member’s Adel home. Keep in
mind that most of the families in this group were educat-
ing their children in a manner outside of the legally recog-
nized means in Iowa at that time.
f r e e d om
i sn ’ t fre e