Iowa City School Board Looks To Put Homeschool Policy In Place

By Chris Earl, Anchor/Reporter

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By Chris Earl

Dr. Betty Klein's life is spent with kids.

"We have nine children and four grandchildren," she said.

About a decade ago, she made the move to homeschool her youngest children.

"Many of them are adopted and have special needs that the school district wanted to meet but were unable to meet," said Dr. Klein.

Twice a week, these children leave home to come to the basement of a Coralville church to work on their lessons -- with other children working on their voices in the worship center.

On Tuesday night, the Iowa City Community School District Board will hold a first reading on a policy to get home-schooled students into the public school classroom

"You need to be here for 2 years to get the diploma," said superintendent Dr. Lane Plugge. You need to complete the Iowa City curriculum to get the Iowa City diploma."

Before educating her children at home, Dr. Klein raised a daughter who was valedictorian at Iowa City West, who later graduated from Brown University, an Ivy League school in Rhode Island, before moving to Harvard.

Dr. Klein says she is concerned about whether gifted students will stay motivated through the final 2 years.

"High Schoolers who want to participate in public schooling those last couple of years are going to choose not to because it won't meet their needs."

Ultimately, this issue may come down to whether the value placed on a high school diploma.

"There is this myth you need a high school diploma to go to college and you don't," said Dr. Klein. "There are alternative ways of graduating and alternative ways of getting into college."

"It won't affect the choices they make for instruction," said Dr. Plugge. "This policy is designed to speak to the diploma."

Dr. Klein also works with other Eastern Iowa families for their own homeschooling experience. She operates a website, called Virtual Homeschool International, in an effort to help other home educators with resources and to find answers.

If the ICCSD decides to move forward with the new policy, the schools would fall into line with some other area districts. The Gazette reports Marion, with more than 700 home-educated students, requires a student to attend school for two of the final three years of high school for a diploma, including a mandatory senior year.

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