HSLDA recently informed its members of a threat to Idaho homeschoolers. The Governor's Task Force was considering a proposal for mandatory registration, testing, and oversight of homeschoolers.

 

The response was overwhelming. Hundreds of letters flooded the Task Force, making quite an impact. The message that homeschoolers do not need or want any more regulation was heard loud and clear.

 

Governor Dirk Kempthorne created his 2020 Blue Ribbon Task Force during October 2002. The 47 members of the Task Force were assigned to five committees including an Education Committee. Each committee was charged with the task of producing a "blueprint that will guide development of an efficient, effective system of government that we hope will serve Idaho for at least the next 20 years."

 

Each committee then generated and considered "Draft Recommendations" attempting to fulfill this goal within the area of its jurisdiction.

 

Recently, the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators (ICHE) received a report that a Draft Recommendation concerning home education was under consideration by the Education Committee. Ray Smelek, of the committee, responded to the ICHE's inquiries and forwarded a copy of the Draft Recommendation which he had drafted in consultation with personnel from the Idaho Department of Education.

 

The Education Committee considered the Draft Recommendation at its final meeting on, June 24, 2003. If adopted, it would have then been presented to the full Task Force on that same day. If approved by the Task Force, the Recommendation would have been forwarded to the Governor to begin the process of seeking its implementation.

 

Mr. Smelek, to his credit, after hearing arguments from Barry Peters of ICHE, promised he will personally recommend to the Education Committee "no action" on the Draft Recommendation on Homeschooling.

 

The Draft Recommendation provisions required:

  • Mandatory registration and oversight of all homeschoolers by their local school districts;

  • Required testing of all homeschoolers on the Idaho Standard Achievement Test (ISAT);

  • Forced remediation and reassessment of any homeschool student failing to score at grade level as required of public school students;

  • Truancy and juvenile criminal prosecution of students and parents failing to comply with these requirements.

 

The Education Committee of the Task Force, after an hour of debate, declined to approve the Draft Recommendation which called for registration and testing of homeschoolers. This is the good news.

 

However, every member of the committee still expressed concern for the "children whose parents are failing to actually teach their children at home." Although the immediate threat is over, a threat still exists.