Update: Byrnes continues to defend comments about homeschool families

Homeschooling 1By Bob Eschliman


UPDATE: Following The Iowa Statesman’s original report, Caffeinated Thoughts editor Shane Vander Hart received the following response to questions about state Rep. Josh Byrnes’ comments about homeschool families in Iowa:

“Shane, you are so out of touch. I represent a group of constituents. I don’t represent a faction of a party. I win elections in a district in which it’s hard to win as a Republican … why? Because I represent constituents and do what’s right for the majority of my people. Do you think your far right thoughts and comments represent all of the Republican Party? Absolutely not. I am a pro-business, pro-economy, pro-common sense Republican.”

It’s safe to assume Byrnes doesn’t feel any regrets about his original comments, reported below.

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After shepherding the bill that eventually raised Iowa’s motor fuel tax by more than 40 percent through the Iowa House of Representatives, it would have seemed grassroots conservatives in the state couldn’t have had a lower opinion of state Rep. John Byrnes (R-Osage).

Then, he gave them something new to completely dislike. In an email defending one of the least popular bills this session – after the gas tax hike – he offended perhaps one of the most vocal and politically active conservative demographics in Iowa.

As originally reported by Caffeinated Thoughts, Byrnes was defending Gov. Terry Branstad’s unpopular anti-bullying legislation to Jeff Moorman of Ankeny, who represents Iowa for Student Achievement, when he asked if Moorman homeschooled his children.

When Moorman said he did not, Byrnes replied, “That’s good. I was making sure you didn’t [home] school. Nothing worse than homeschool parents trying to tell us legislators how to run public schools when they don’t use them themselves.”

Byrnes is a public school teacher.

Many homeschool families do engage in the public school system, however, through a process called dual enrollment. All of them, however, pay taxes – income and sales taxes that go to the state General Fund and property taxes that go directly to their local school districts – that pay for public education in Iowa.

Asked Monday afternoon to explain his position by a House District 51 constituent, Byrnes said, “I am a public school teacher and feel that our public schools do a great job. If you don’t use the system, why would you weigh in on public policy pertaining to schools and try to obstruct legislation? I have supported home schooling legislation in the past and have supported school choice. I will always be an advocate for public school systems.”

The fence is a pile of toothpicks. The bridge is a smoldering pile of ash.