Idaho Homeschool History
The Dawning Age of Homeschooling
Idaho Education Code 33-202 in 1992 read:
33-202 SCHOOL ATTENDANCE COMPULSORY…Unless the child is otherwise comparably instructed, the parent or guardian shall cause the child to attend a public, private or parochial school…
At the advice of Representative Tilman, in 1993, the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators began hosting an annual Legislative Day at the Idaho Capitol. They asked homeschool families to bake homemade pies to serve Legislators, and they asked a couple of Legislator’s wives to cut and serve the pie. These ladies were the grandmothers of homeschooled children. They were lovely and sweet and who can resist homemade pie anyway? Whether they came to please these dear Senator’s wives, or to get their piece of pie didn’t really matter. What was important was that legislators came to our show and tell.
They were greeted by homeschooled teen “Ambassadors” who offered to show them around the fourth floor of the Rotunda, which was filled with interesting displays and bright-faced young homeschooled students.
Legislators met face-to-face with real homeschoolers, who shook their hands, looked them in the eye, and spoke articulately about their displays.
They listened to musical performances by talented homeschooled children.
They played chess with some very gifted chess playing homeschoolers.
“Pie Day” became a much-anticipated annual event. To this day, Legislative staff not only marks the date for this event on their calendars, but some even bring their own ice cream to adorn their pie.
One of the most important things for Legislators to see each year are the large charts that ICHE displays. These charts compare the standardized test scores of Idaho homeschoolers with Idaho public school students, and also the national averages. These scores make a dramatic statement about the academic effectiveness of home education.
Every year since 1993, the message that ICHE has conveyed to our Legislature is quite simple. “We want nothing but our freedom.”
Legislators have regularly commented that we are the only constituency that comes to the capitol without having our hands out for assistance from the government. They are quick to remind us that what they finance, they must also regulate.
Pie Day has expanded to more floors than just the fourth. It now includes a floor highlighting the accomplishments of Homeschooled Alumni where legislators are served coffee and tea.
Another floor showcases Idaho Homeschool History.
Our excellent relationships at the Idaho Capitol are built upon the efforts of ICHE, in hosting this annual event. They also work hard all year to build and maintain strong alliances with legislators.
Furthering this strong tie are homeschooled seniors who serve as Pages for the Idaho Legislature. The Sergeant at Arms, who hires and manages the Pages, has come to rely upon homeschooled students as responsible and hardworking teens.
Idaho homeschool families are thankful and proud to be represented at the Capitol by an organization that operates with a high standard of integrity. ICHE’s philosophy of coming alongside of legislators and offering them honest, direct advice on issues impacting home education, has turned out to be very effective.