The date is circled on the calendar for Capitol denizens: the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators annual Pie Day.
Typically about 600 slices of home-baked delight are carved up on the Capitols fourth floor. As many as 70 lawmakers received whole pies this year, said Jodi Miller, who home-schools her children Charissa, 12, and Christopher, 15, in Boise.
Idaho has one of the friendliest home-school laws in the country, said ICHE President Barry Peters. We do this because we appreciate living in Idaho and the great trust the Legislature has put in us, Peters said. We want them to see the students and how well theyre doing.
Peters cited two principal values that unite families home-schooling an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 students: academics and socialization. Idaho has about 282,000 K-12 students in public school.
Putting a 7-year-old in a classroom of other 7-year-olds is probably not the best model for socialization, Peters said. Sitting at home, mom can keep tabs on things and nudge them in the right direction.
Peters passed out charts showing home-schooled students performing better than the average Idaho student, based on Iowa tests.
Drue Johnson, a 16-year-old sophomore from Homedale, is taught by his folks, Dirk and Kim Johnson. The Johnsons operate a custom combine business and raise Arabian horses. Drue and his brother, Dain, 20, pitch in.
The main reason we home-school is we have a lot stronger family, said Drue Johnson. Were not gone eight hours and day and we help out our parents.
Johnson, at 6-5, 220 pounds, plays football for Vallivue High School. He hopes to play in college. His first choice: Stanford.
About 60 children attended, some playing music, others with academic displays.
Savannah Martin, 14, of Boise, prepared Spotlight on Africa. She noted that one-third of the worlds peanuts are grown on the continent and offered tins of peanuts to cut the sweetness of the pie.
Other displays covered the Legislature and Idaho Supreme Court, speech and debate, sports, the Congressional Award, drawing, chess, skiing, chorus, 4-H and Christian education.
Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, knows the Johnsons well. She employs Dain Johnson as an intern and says hes one of the best ever. Dain is working on a bill sought by the Caldwell Night Rodeo board.
Hes doing all the work, said Lodge, a former educator who owns land neighboring the Johnsons. Theyre wonderful kids, absolutely outstanding.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438