DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds received a warm welcome and standing ovations from hundreds of homeschoolers at the annual Homeschool Iowa Capitol Day on Tuesday. Reynolds used her lunchtime presentation to to commend the parents for taking on the challenge of educating their children and to tout her school choice initiatives currently before the Iowa Legislature.
“The education of our next generation is one of our greatest responsibilities, and whether that happens in a public school, private school or at home, each of us has a critical role to play!” she said.
Homeschool Iowa hosted its 15th annual capitol day event with over 800 registrants from about 200 families present, families representing 39 senate districts and 58 house districts across the state. Organizers said the event routinely draws 500 to 1,000 participants each year, with the primary goal being to connect homeschool families with their legislators at the Capitol. The size of the event required its activities to be split between the Capitol building and Walnut Creek Church’s nearby East Village location.
“Homeschool Iowa has easily been one of the largest and most well attended days at the Capitol year after year, and this year’s was one of the largest yet,” Bill Gustoff, a local attorney, homeschooling parent, and lobbyist with Homeschool Iowa, said.
The group also heard from author, national speaker, and early homeschool pioneer Zan Tyler. Joe and Zan Tyler began homeschooling in 1984, when no homeschool laws existed in their home state of South Carolina. Using her presentation entitled “10 Things I Learned on the Way to Jail,” Mrs. Tyler shared experiences about their own fight for the right to homeschool and encouraged vigilance in protecting homeschool freedoms.
The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying school closures led to marked increase in private school enrollment and parents opting for home education. Some estimates suggest that the number of homeschool families has doubled in the last year or two, with various cooperative programs and academies springing up to help those parents seeking more support.
Connecting a network of several thousand members and affiliated homeschool students and parents, Homeschool Iowa is Iowa’s only statewide organization supporting homeschool families and advocating for them before the state legislature.