Idaho Homeschool History

Idaho Homeschool History

We as homeschoolers certainly know how to count our blessings.  I think one of the reasons many of us homeschool is because we so appreciate the blessing of our children, and we want to be good stewards of this extraordinary gift.  However, I do think those of us newer to homeschooling (newer being those of us who didn’t homeschool in the 1990’s or earlier) are completely unaware of some of the blessings and freedoms we enjoy homeschooling in Idaho.  A lot has happened to guarantee us these freedoms.  Let’s explore some of these little-known facts together.  Select the links below to read more for each part.  You may also purchase the Politics of Pie – A History of Idaho Homeschooling book here!



Part One

Did you know that the U.S. Constitution makes no mention of education? It set forth no guidelines on how American children should be educated. Apparently, the founding fathers left it up to individual states, churches and parents to best determine how their children were to be schooled. It turns out that this system worked quite well, creating a highly literate society, that could read the King James Bible, and which could write The Federalist Papers… Read more!

Part Two

Have you ever been driving along on a highway when suddenly forward progress slows to a crawl, or, worse yet, stalls altogether? As you creep along you finally come to an accident scene. The cars have been moved safely away, and you wonder why everyone is driving so slowly. You may even mutter something about the “Rubbernecks,” who slow down just to take a look… Read more!

Part Three

An Idaho Statesman, December 4, 1984 article declared that the Shippy’s were “challenging a basic tenet of our society” and claimed that they “brought it on themselves,” that compulsory attendance laws are “meant to ensure an enlightened and productive society” implying that the state was rescuing the children from an unwanted, simplistic lifestyle… Read more!

Part Four

Once things quieted down in the New Plymouth school district, home education in Idaho began to grow in popularity. There were isolated instances of saber rattling, but they mainly served as notice for homeschool families who had the option of moving. For instance, there were folks who moved from the Boise School District to the Meridian School District, simply because Meridian took a less aggressive stance on home education… Read more!

Part Five

Going through hard times can be difficult. They may cause some people to lose their resolve, or become angry and bitter. Enduring trying circumstances sometimes injects steel into the spine. It is wonderfully comforting once the season is past to look back and see the hand of God at work, even in the midst of the storm… Read more!

Part Six

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… Read more!

Part Seven

In our last installment, we learned about the formation of the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators as a legislative and lobbying organization, but they actually got their start prior to that date.

Homeschooling was in its infancy. Many parents wanted feedback on whether or not their children were making academic progress comparable with their publicly schooled peers… Read more!

Part Eight

By 1998, few Idaho homeschoolers felt threatened with imminent demise. Our movement was expanding, and an industry of textbook providers, authors and speakers was being raised up. The internet had been invented, and many people began purchasing personal computers, and had gotten email addresses.  The time was ripe for Idaho to begin promoting home education as a viable education alternative… Read more!

Part Nine

Opposition to home education surprisingly reared its ugly head in the Idaho Senate in 2004.

The Idaho Coalition of Home Educators had demonstrated strength as a grassroots lobbying organization, and had earned the respect of many Legislators. During this time, some Legislators would touch in from time to time inquiring about whether their proposed bill might affect homeschoolers. ICHE’s Chief Legal Counsel, Barry Peters, received one such call in the summer of 2003… Read more!

Part Ten

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… Read more!

Part Eleven

I ended the last installment of our story in 2006, with a victory for homeschooling. We were able to defend ourselves against an assault that would have brought regulation upon us.  This followed our 2004 defeat of a really bad bill. These victories felt pretty good. Good enough that we began to wonder whether or not we could play offense… Read more!

Part Twelve

In the summer of 2008, leadership from ICHE and CHOIS began to discuss the possibility of bringing forward a bill that would change Idaho Code 33-202 to insert the words “home education.” In our minds, we began counting noses of the legislators we thought might support such a bill, and we actively sought a sponsor in both the House and the Senate. And then something rather amazing happened… Read more!

Part Thirteen

Here’s how the Governor’s Task Force on Children at Risk saw things: They were tasked with finding ways to prevent child abuse. Homeschoolers were a great unknown to them, and this lack of knowing gave them tremendous concern. They saw a potential for abuse, and they wanted to close the opportunity. Homeschoolers had their own perspective. We knew that the Task Force had previously sought to regulate homeschooling. Could we trust them now? Read more!

Part Fourteen 

With the stroke of Governor C. L. Otter’s pen, in 2009 Idaho gained the most favorable homeschooling law in the nation. Our journey from prison to freedom was 25 years long. Each step along the way gained forward progression, taking us closer to obtaining autonomy. Could it get any better? Amazingly, yes, it could! Read more!

Part Fifteen

The Idaho Education Code change in 2009 placed Idaho homeschools on a secure legal foundation, however, as Mark Twain once aptly noted, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” It is imperative that future home educators remain connected and vigilant to ensure our continued freedom. 2015 was in important legislative year for Idaho homeschoolers. Read more!

Part Sixteen

In 2009, the passage of new language in Idaho Code 33-202 gave Idaho the best homeschool law in the nation, and thus the world!  By working with the Department of Health & Welfare in 2010, we established reasonable guidelines for investigating allegations of educational neglect. An Idaho Parental Rights Statute was added to the Idaho Code in 2015. This Triple Crown of blessing provides Idaho home educators with unprecedented freedom. What now? Read more!

Committed to helping parents fulfill their God-given right and responsibility to educate their own children.