Idaho Homeschool History
The Dawning Age of Homeschooling
In the years following 1992, Idaho Education Code 33-202 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…
What image comes into your mind when you hear the term, “Missing Children”? In 2006, most of us thought of the milk carton photos of children who had been abducted.
Imagine our surprise when three professors from Boise State University presented a study to the Governor’s Task Force on Children at Risk which called homeschooled students “Missing Children.” They even had a specific number in mind: 13,954. Apparently this number was derived from the census figures and the number of children not enrolled in public or private school. Never mind that private schools were not required to report their numbers. All of these children were called missing, and considered homeschooling.
This report was designed to be the driving force behind an effort to introduce legislation which would have required home educators register with the state. But what good is a list of names without evidence? These children would also need to provide some form of verification that they were receiving a proper education. In other words, home educators would soon be required to prove their innocence.
Representatives from ICHE and CHOIS regularly attend meetings of the Governor’s Task Force on Children at Risk when the subject of home education is under scrutiny, and this meeting was no exception. We began to build our defense.
Neither organization had any idea how many Idaho children were being homeschooled, but we did know that the figure in the report was much higher than we would have expected it to be. We commissioned the help of the most reliable source we knew, the National Home Education Research Institute and Dr. Brian Ray.
Dr. Ray was able to find many flaws in the research done by the three professors, and he concluded that the number they had obtained was significantly inflated. Copies of his written summation were made available to the task force members, and in the end they adjourned without recommending additional regulations on homeschooling. This was a huge victory for homeschool freedom in Idaho!
Several lessons were learned from this experience. First and foremost, this threat, like every battle we have ever faced was covered in much prayer. We know that the victory was not ours, but the Lord’s victory.
Secondly, attending that meeting was frightening. We were definitely under fire in a hostile environment. At times, it got personal. We took time away from teaching our own children, and from our places of employment, for this meeting. There were other places we would have preferred to be (getting a root canal didn’t seem near as painful as the meeting), but you see, the win goes to those who show up with a game plan. If we hadn’t been there, with our homework completed, thanks to Dr. Ray, our opposition would have taken the field. We might have been able to head-off a bad bill later on, but the truth is that few legislators would have opposed a task force recommendation.
Also, David was beginning to see that Goliath was vulnerable. Truth be told, the professor’s report was poorly written. Dr. Ray found many flaws, even in his most cursory reading. I think he even had fun writing his summary opinion. The professors had expected a slam-dunk finish, and instead, they got slammed. It felt kind of good.
Lastly, little did we know it at the time, but we earned respect during that ordeal. We were not caricatures of bumpkin homeschoolers any longer. We had faces, good manners, and wore shoes to the meeting! We were mostly calm, reasoned, and respectful. And we didn’t back down, even when the big guns from BSU came in with their report. People were watching, and those people will come back into our story again soon.
Once again, the tide is changing, and Idaho homeschooling is about to enter its Golden Age.