The headline in the OakPark-Leaves.com article was: Illinois imposes no regulations
Some Illinois school administrators from ISBE down to individual school districts do try to impose regulations on homeschoolers even though we are included in the private school exemption requiring our "children are taught the branches of education taught in the schools, and where the instruction of the child is in the English language."
My problem with quoting national homeschool statistics by education researchers has always been this ignored fact, as referenced by John Huston in the opening paragraph of the article:
Start asking questions about home schoolers in Illinois and there's one answer you won't be able to find: How many there are.
That's not a bad thing.
Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself, in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: "There are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics."
-Autobiography of Mark Twain
But lack of statistics seems to be of utmost importance to orgs like NCES and to the Illinois Senate Education Chair, Kimberly Lightford.
"I would have assumed to some degree that we had accountability over how many home schoolers there were, where they were located, and that they would be tested," Lightford said.
Why would "we" (Illinois citizens) need to have "accountability" over how many homeschoolers there are? We homeschoolers left the system voluntarily, with thought as to what was best for our families.
Accountability for public schools seems to be an overwhelming responsibility already. The growth of adult education centers, truancy and dropout rates stemming from dissastified customers or kids who aren't able to read and are booted through grades and out of the school with a diploma is scary to me. One of the commenters on an Illinois Review post asked this:
re: "Granted, if there is compelling evidence that children are not being provided instruction " If you have 3 children at home and 2 of 3 are learning and one isn't, is that OK? If you have 3,000 children in a school and 2,000 are learning and 1,000 arn't, is that OK? Is there a double standard?
Back to Senator Lightford's comments, why do they (Illinois citizens) need to know where we are? We're at home (some of the time), and it's none of your business. Our home is our castle, our digs, our place of peace. The senator should be concerned about the institutions called public schools and leave law abiding citizens to our private abode and business.
Senator Lightford insinuates that homeschoolers should be tested. That's a head scratcher and seems a bit hypocritical. I thought her supporters (teacher unions) hated testing. That they hated losing the teacher's individuality by having to teach to a test. Makes sense to me. But she wants homeschoolers tested. Interesting. From the NEA Accountability and Testing:
NEA does not believe that standardized test scores should be the only factor in determining progress in student learning — and parents agree, according to a recent PTA poll.
* At best, standardized tests can measure only certain kinds of student learning — and can't give a complete picture of what an individual child needs.
* Comparing standardized test scores across schools, districts and states doesn't take into account important differences in school funding or parent and community support to help students succeed.
Continuing with Huston's article and Lightford's 'astonishment':
She was so surprised that she said she is planning to delve deeper into the issue.
"I'm glad you sparked this," Lightford said. "You just really put me into a situation where I'd be interested in looking at legislation.
"So you don't even know your child's aptitude or ability or where they are? At what level?" she asked, still sounding astonished. "That's scary."
The Senate Education Chair had NO idea that you (Illinois citizens) don't know a homeschooled child's aptitude, ability or level of learning. (I'm assuming she meant learning since that is why kids go to schools, ay?) Homeschool parents have a fairly good fix on their children's education level since they love 'em dearly and live with them too. What more oversight could you ask for, I ask? And since we homeschoolers tend to be fairly savvy about our requirements per the private school compulsory attendance exemption, we also know that we should make sure our children learn "the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools, and where the instruction of the child in the branches of education is in the English language ". We know the statute, but does Senator Lightford; chairperson of the Illinois Senate Committee?
Homeschool advocates have shown up at her Senate hearings before. But she had no idea. She's so stunned that she's "interested in looking at legislation". I suppose uncovering "scary" issues must give her cause in her agenda That should wake all Illinois homeschoolers up.
Fortunately there are senators like Senator Don Harmon who say this:
State Sen. Don Harmon, D-39th, of Oak Park, takes a more "if-it-isn't-broken" perspective on the issue.
"The notion of regulating home schooling seems to be a solution in search of a problem," Harmon said. "We have an awful lot of issues to fix in our education system, but the home schooling system seems to be working just fine."
Senator Harmon's contact info to thank him for his foresight: