Homeschool advocates are speaking out about an Iowa bill that requires school and court officials to conduct health and wellness checks on families who homeschool.
HF 272, introduced by Rep. Mary Mascher, would make homeschool families who do not report to their school district subject to regular home visits.
"The board of directors of a school district shall conduct quarterly home visits to check on the health and safety of children located within the district who are receiving independent private instruction or private instruction," the bill reads.
The bill also says these home visits "shall take place in the child's residence with the consent of the parent, guardian, or legal custodian and an interview or observation of the child may be conducted."
If parents do not give consent, then "the juvenile court or district court upon a showing of probable cause may authorize the person making the home visit to enter the home and interview or observe the child."
The bill does not specify what defines probable cause in this case, which makes some homeschool advocates uneasy.
"This bill essentially puts homeschooling families on the level of parents who have been accused or have had a finding of child abuse or neglect," writes Shane Vander Hart, editor of Truth in American Education.
HF 272 also requires homeschool parents to submit proof that their child is up to date on vaccinations, submit their educational plans for approval, and agree to have their children participate in annual academic testing.
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) senior counsel Scott Woodruff said the law is a waste of time and money.
"Rep. Mascher's HF 272, in addition to resurrecting long-dead paperwork requirements for homeschool families, treats them all like criminals," Woodruff said. "Without explaining who is going to pay for it — with school and child protective personnel already stretched beyond the breaking point — she wants to command that state agents come into the homes of every single homeschool family in the state four times a year."
"In what world do we waste money poking into the homes of thousands of people when there is not the slightest reason to believe an individual has done anything wrong?" Woodruff asked. "When people who believe that the government can, and should, solve all problems, this is the kind of utopian dream they dream. Dreams like that only get us closer to an Orwellian world."
Iowa lawmakers have also introduced similar bills called HF 100, which calls for health and safety checks, and HF 182, which critics argue will limit the freedom of many homeschool families.
The bills mandating health and wellness checks are a response to the deaths of two Iowa girls who were severely abused by their adoptive families after they were removed from public school.
Still, critics don't believe mandatory house visits is a good solution.
"State reps like @marymascher pushing HF 272 want to remind Iowans they own your children. Force health and safety checks on homeschool families just because they are homeschooled. How dare you raise your kids without government you monsters," one Twitter user said.
State reps like @marymascher pushing HF 272 want to remind Iowans they own your children. Force health and safety checks on homeschool families just because they are homeschooled. How dare you raise your kids without government you monsters.
— Shari (@RespectKohlrabi) February 20, 2019
"HF 272 stay in your lane, out of peoples right to chose whats best education for there kids, and kids health, dhs, Iowia, mary masher enough of the medaling in peoples private lives," another wrote.
HF 272 stay in your lane, out of peoples right to chose whats best education for there kids, and kids health, dhs, Iowia, mary masher enough of the medaling in peoples private lives,
— jeanette impia ♪♫ ♪♫ (@jeanetteimpia) February 14, 2019