Compulsory Attendance Age Bill and Other Expensive Govt Endeavors

Illinois taxpayers surely don't need a new and unreasonable mandate on top of Representative Monique Davis' proposal to add a new layer of bureaucracy with a Department of Education.  (That bill will be heard in the State Government Administration Committee March 9.)  

Representative Jehan Gordon wants the compulsory attendance age increased to 18 from 17 years of age.  The Elementary & Secondary Education Committee Hearing is on March 9, 2011 at 8:00 AM and this bill in on the agenda.  

Some children are forced out or "pushed-out" of the school system by public school administrators worried about low test scores decreasing funding under what were No Child Left Behind mandates, but now have a new name, same song and dance via Race to the Top federal grants.  The homeschool community often meets the pushouts from the school districts. The pushout families are desperately trying to find a way to educate their children.  This issue is a public secret spread across the country, but Chicago is certainly a prime example. I've also seen a couple of cases here in central Illinois that hit our homeschool community radar.  

Following that explanation of the interweaving of public school problems into our homeschooling community, we've learned to listen to those on the frontlines of these struggles. It appears there are some activist youth in the Chicago area, who have a voice in a website –Dignity in Schools- directly addressing the pushout problem

Students in Chicago Public Schools have internalized the problem of the dropout rate and believe that they are the ones to blame for the failures of the school system. There is a difference between perception and reality when it comes to the reasons for the dropout rate, and it is only through a deeper critical analysis that students come to realize the systemic problems impacting public education.

• Additionally, youth researchers found that dropping out is not something that students plan or anticipate. It is something that happens slowly over time.

• VOYCE found that while teachers, parents, and students agree that relevance in curriculum is critical to students’ engagement in school, students feel that relevance is largely missing in their schools. This lack of relevance leaves students without a clear sense of purpose when it comes to their education.

In his educational plan, Chicago's future mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, suggests that dropouts should lose their driver's license.  The Chicago public school district (3rd in size in the nation) is known for a huge amount of dropouts.  Emanuel's solution seems ludicrous and akin to punishing the children the school system failed to educate regarding the basics, as laid out by Horace Hall, professor of educational policy and research at DePaul University. Hall says:

“The only criminal offense is allowing students to reach their high school years without knowing simple math and becoming independent readers,” Hall said. “Perhaps, the consequence of those who perpetuate this travesty should be to have their driver’s licenses revoked and not the students.”

Indeed.  Just browsing through the Chicago Public School system report cards, one example is the Orr Academy High School.  Their school shows shy of 7% of the students meeting or exceeding the Illinois State Board of Education's very own Standards of Learning.  Where is the accountability for the public school system's own measure of "learning"?  Why wouldn't these teens high tail it out of that school to find a way to be educated and be a productive citizen?  Those kids deserve better than what they're getting and one has to question the reason why their anguish should be prolonged.  

Riddle me this, Mr. Emanuel and Representative Gordon.  How is your plan of action "about the children" and their educational and overall well being?  It seems more like the kick in the gut when the person is already down and semi-conscious.

There are so many reasons that Representative Gordon's bill should be opposed and dropped.  Reasons that any Illinois taxpayer calling for accountability could support.  This adds to the already overwhelming financial burden that seems poorly managed by our leaders in Illinois.  If the schools can't keep the kids in the classrooms willingly, it doesn't make sense to force them and pay more for it. That added fiscal burden in Illinois' public school system doesn't include the Regional Offices of Education push for homeschool registration and the added paperwork, along with Senator Maloney's 'homeschool truancy' concerns. 

From a homeschool standpoint, this is one more year added where homeschoolers would have to make sure they followed the p's and q's of official transfer from a public school to private school for homeschooling purposes.  As Senator Maloney made clear, there are many in Springfield who would like different rules for homeschoolers than other private schools, and they find various means to pursue that.   They like the term "no-schoolers", but we've found that really means they want all homeschoolers registered.

I hope Representative Gordon considers whether this is really about the kids. The Peoria Journal-Star published an article about her appointment by Speaker Madigan to a "bipartisan panel" to study education reform issues.  If I were a family in the Orr Academy school district and too many others in Illinois, I'd wonder if real thought was put to what is best for the kids.

Gordon, D-Peoria, is one of eight members of a bipartisan House committee created last month by Speaker Michael Madigan to study education reform issues. The panel is to make recommendations to the General Assembly before Jan. 12, when new lawmakers are sworn into office.

"I have a responsibility to serve as an advocate for everyone. I'm trying to do what's in the best interest of kids and what's fair. Far too often, the interest of the children gets swept under the rug," Gordon said Wednesday.

This was in the article's conclusion:

Some groups are skeptical about the purpose of the recently formed committee, including the IEA, which has expressed concern about the role being played by Oregon-based Stand For Children, which distributed money to legislative candidates, including $100,000 to Gordon in October and another Education Reform Committee member.

Stand for Children describes itself as a child advocacy organization dedicated to improving public education. Gordon said, though she agrees with some agendas issued by that group, she's not beholden to it.

"I'm not supporting anything if I'm not comfortable with it. I have to live with myself and in a community who has to believe and trust my word: $100,000 is not worth my word, my credibility, my reputation," Gordon said, adding she also has received more than $150,000 from IEA, IFT and the Illinois School Alliance, which represents administrators, principals and school board members.

 I think our Illinois community should ask Representative Gordon why this sort of bill would be presented at this time. 

Here is Representative Gordon's contact information:   

Jehan A. Gordon



217-558-4552 fax

309-681-8572 fax

Peoria, Peoria County

Here is the rest of the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee contact information.  (Hat tip to IL Homeschool PAC Advisory Board member Terri Koyne): 

Chairperson Linda Chapa LaVia      



217-782-0927 fax           

630-264-6752 fax                                                           


Vice-Chair      Fred Crespo  



217-557-4622 fax

630-372-3342 fax

Streamwood, Cook County


Rep. Spokesperson

Jerry L. Mitchell



217-557-0571 fax

815-625-0839 fax

Rock Falls, Whiteside County


John D. Cavaletto



217-782-1336 fax

618-548-9087 fax

Salem, Marion County


Marlow H. Colvin



217-782-2404 fax

773-783-8625 fax

Chicago, Cook County


Monique D. Davis



217-782-1795 fax

773-445-5755 fax

Chicago, Cook County


Lisa M. Dugan



217-558-4553 fax

815-939-0081 fax

Kankakee, Kankakee County


Kennith Dunkin



217-782-4213 fax

312-266-0699 fax

Chicago, Cook County


Roger L. Eddy




618-563-4129 fax

Huntsville, Crawford County


Keith Farnham



217-557-4459 fax

847-841-7140 fax

Elgin, Kane County


Esther Golar



217-558-6370 fax


Chicago, Cook County


Camille Y. Lilly



217-558-1054 fax

773-473-7378 fax

Chicago, Cook County


Rita Mayfield



217-558-1092 fax

847-599-2955 fax

Waukegan, Lake County


Bill Mitchell



217-557-0571 fax

217-876-1973 fax

Decatur, Macon County


Donald L. Moffitt



217-557-0179 fax

309-343-2683 fax

Galesburg, Knox County


Thomas Morrison



217-558-7016 fax

Palatine, Cook County


Harry Osterman



217-782-6592 fax

773-784-2060 fax

Chicago, Cook County


Sanda M. Pihos



217-558-1072 fax

630-858-8857 fax

Glen Ellyn, Du Page County


Robert W. Pritchard



217-782-1275 fax

815-748-4630 fax

Sycamore, DeKalb County


David Reis



217-557-0530 fax

618-392-0107 fax

Olney, Jasper County


Pam Roth



217-558-1073 fax

815-416-1476 fax

Morris, Grundy County


Darliene J. Senger



217-782-1275 fax

630-219-3091 fax

Naperville, DuPage County


Karen A. Yarbrough



217-782-1739 fax

708-615-1745 fax

Broadview, Cook County

More thoughts and research from a homeschooling angle regarding compulsory attendance laws: Foundations of the Rights and Responsiblities of Homeschooling Parents; Home Education Magazine.


Compulsory Attendance Age Bill and Other Expensive Govt Endeavors — 1 Comment

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