A bill that would let parents who “home school” their children teach their own kids how to drive is awaiting action in an Iowa House Committee. “Home school” students are currently required to take a state-certified driver’s ed course before they can get a license to drive. Justin LaVan sits on the board of directors for the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators.
He says it’s not about saving the money that would spent on a commercial driver’s ed class. “First of all you have no idea what’s involved in home schooling if you think saving $300 in driver’s ed is going to be the reason to do it and second of all these are people who are already pouring hours,” LaVan says, “you typically have one parent who has given up career paths or other things to be at home doing this.”
Representative Curt Hanson, a Democrat, taught driver’s ed in Fairfield for 43 years and he has significant reservations about the proposal. “In many cases you have people that are simply interested in getting their young son or daughter a license as quickly as possible,” Hansen says. “And that’s unfortunate.”
Hanson says he wants to see more safeguards in the bill. “So I think we want to step very carefully in this and make sure we do have a curriculum and we do have good, dedicated parents involved and not just those people who wish to get their student’s a license as quickly as possible,” Hanson says.
But William Gustoff, the lobbyist for Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators, says parents are more inclined to worry about their student than a paid instructor would. “What I’ve seen from home schooling parents across the state is a dedication and devotion to the child, beyond what you would normally see and their interest is the safety of their child,” Gustoff says. “It’s their child.”
And home school parents complain the waiting lists for driver’s ed are long for children who do not attend public schools. The proposed bill would require the parent to have home-schooled their child for at least a year in order to have the authority to teach their kid driver’s ed. And the parent would have to have had a clean driving record for the previous two years.
The bill also would require parents to follow driver’s ed coursework approved by the Department of Transportation and the parents would have to sign an affidavit saying their child had at least 40 hours experience driving a vehicle. Similar legislation was approved by the Iowa House and Senate several years ago, but it was vetoed by Tom Vilsack, who was governor at the time.