The education reform conference committee released their report this morning and the Iowa House voted 91-0 and the Iowa Senate voted 40-10 in favor of it. Governor Branstad is expected to sign the measure when it hits his desk. A recap on what this bill does for school choice – it’s basically a deregulation bill.
Optional reporting under Competent Private Instruction. Home schooling families are no longer required to submit Competent Private Instruction forms (CPI) or assessments to their local school district. They can if they like, but they don’t have to. Families can still participate in dual enrollment or home school assistance programs (HSAP) if they like.
Independent Private Instruction – This eliminates annual reporting to the state, but also allows up to four unrelated students to participate in home schooling. This is a great option that opens up home schooling for foster children, single mothers, etc.
Parent-taught Drivers Instruction – pretty self explanatory, you are no longer required to send your child to drivers education outside your home if you do not want to.
Independent Accreditation for Non-Public Schools - This allows a non-public school to seek third party accreditation and still benefit from the school tuition organizations (people who donate get tax credits), transportation reimbursement, textbook reimbursement fund for non-religious text books, AEA support (cost sharing for media, professional developed, etc.). Prior to this to receive these benefits schools had to be accredited through the Iowa Department of Education which then opened these schools up to mandates – like having to adopt the Iowa Core (which is aligned to the Common Core). This frees accredited non-public schools from this and other requirements placed upon them by the State (once, I believe, they have received that third party accreditation). The Senate Democrats during negotiations did add a seven-year sunset, but I believe it will be renewed as non-public schools will be able to prove that this works.
This raises Iowa’s status as a friendly homeschooling state (they were one of the worst before) and frees non-public schools from state mandates so while there are a couple pieces in this bill I’m not thrilled about we can celebrate.