Heads Up Illinois Homeschoolers

Early this year, this broken state’s perennial Speaker of the House gave a speech to incoming lawmakers and other interested parties at the start of one more governor’s tenure. Besides the usual, part of Speaker Madigan’s plan is to address children’s mental health and those “falling through the cracks.”  Connecticut’s Adam Lanza was mentioned and it was noted he was homeschooled. Here’s how The Leader’s concern was laid out in the Chicago Tribune:

Madigan also unveiled plans for a group to study a report made in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, when 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza killed more than two dozen students and adults. Madigan said the goal would be to develop recommendations regarding safety and mental health to try to prevent a similar tragedy.

“There were several missed opportunities to help Lanza. Additional intervention might’ve helped,” Madigan said. “We should do all that we can to prevent kids like Lanza from falling through the cracks.”

Because of the horrible Sandy Hook school massacre, some have not missed the opportunity to hone in on a non-problem – homeschooling.  Last fall, City-Journal’s correspondent Matthew Hennessy noted the issues being created for Connecticut homeschoolers in the aftermath of Newtown’s tragedy. Governor Malloy set up a Sandy Hook Advisory Commission full of ‘experts’. From Hennessy last fall:

Established to investigate the causes and consequences of the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, the Sandy Hook commission issued an interim report last year that nodded appropriately to gun safety, school security, and emergency planning, but made no mention of homeschooling. Now the panel has determined that among the things that went wrong in the run-up to that tragedy was that the killer, Adam Lanza, was homeschooled briefly as a teenager. They are recommending that the state give local officials approval power over parents who wish to homeschool children with social, behavioral, and emotional challenges. “Given the individuals involved in the tragedy that formed the basis of this commission, we believe that it is very germane,” said commissioner Harold I. Schwartz, psychiatrist-in-chief at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living. “The facts leading up to this incident support the notion [that there is a] risk in not addressing the social and emotional learning needs of [homeschooled] children.” Schwartz admitted that the commission didn’t have access to Lanza’s school files and medical records. But he maintained that those records would support the commission’s proposals.

This concept moved west to Illinois. Madigan’s Violence Prevention Task Force is in force and their second hearing is set for March 10 at 4 pm.  The subject matter is: Barriers to Care and Isolation of Families.  Homeschoolers, does this tripe regarding “isolation” and “falling through the cracks” sound familiar?  It should.  As always, the question of who should care for families – the government or the families – can be raised. I know who might suffer everyday repercussions of stress and family dysfunction. It’s generally not the person in the cubicle, even if they are supposed to be there to help.

Governor Rauner’s wife spoke at the first hearing.  Besides being Illinois’ first lady, she is Ounce of Prevention’s president.  She believes “the seeds of resilience and of quality mental and social emotional development are laid in the very, very first years of life.” So true, except she champions birth to five-year-old governmental programs. The results seem counter-productive. It makes more sense to uphold parents – a parent or family member staying home with the children in a secure and nurturing learning environment rather than an institution.  The current mantra from powerful leaders appears to be no family members should be home and if they are home, their nest should be laid open to home visits to make sure subjective approval is met. Frankly, the basis for Illinois’ social-emotional standards of learning is quite creepy.  Any homeschooler asked about their child’s socialization at a gathering gets the irony.

Here comes my usual question.  Don’t these people have better things to do?

Even Gregg Harris – Madigan’s appointed head of this task force pointed this out on his website last year.

Lawmakers need to address the rising number of children who are dying from abuse and neglect in Illinois and also what more can be done to prevent deaths of children who have come onto the radar of state child-welfare workers, a key legislator said Friday in response to a Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ investigation.

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She pointed to the death of Christopher Valdez, a 4-year-old boy from Gage Park on the city’s Southwest Side who was beaten to death in 2011 by his mother’s boyfriend. Shortly before his death, the police had arrested his mother for beating him, and she was convicted. But DCFS and the courts allowed Christopher to resume living with her even though other family members said they were willing to care for him.

We can’t make sense of this initiative when little babies and children are dying under the watch of the government. But yet some powerful entities are reaching out to grab onto parents who cultivate their children’s relationship so much they dare to educate them in a non-traditional home-based manner. The overwhelming political majority, along with public school cohorts, have concerns about Illinois homeschoolers’ freedoms and their desire to grab us has been unveiled here and there. The Assistant Majority Leader and Education Committee Vice-Chair Kimberly Lightford thinks Illinois homeschool freedoms should be “tweaked.”  At the Senate Education Committee hearing a few years back, she said she couldn’t understand how we homeschoolers could stand being with our children all day.  So.  There’s that.

Again, from the Violence Prevention Task Force Chair’s own site:

Analyzing 10 years of Kane’s reports about DCFS-involved abuse and neglect deaths, the Sun-Times and WBEZ found there have been 228 such deaths between July 1, 2002, and June 30, 2012. The number of deaths more than doubled between 2010 and 2011 — from 15 to 34 — then held steady at 34 in 2012.

Statewide, there were 111 child abuse and neglect death cases in a 12-month period ending in mid-2013, the most in Illinois in 30 years.

Responding to the findings, Harris said: “I’m going to be following up on the investigative pieces that the Sun-Times and WBEZ reported and certainly talk to principals, talk to experts in the field. We very well may have some hearings.”

Read the Sun-Times/WBEZ expose and it will break your heart.

Over 4,000 homeschoolers traveled to the Springfield Capitol a few years ago to tell legislators to leave us alone. They did.  But it was clear what was wanted from most sitting at the dais and it wasn’t to keep the status quo of Illinois homeschool freedoms.  Heads up, Illinois homeschoolers.  We are a strong and independent collection of parents, but our opposition is big, determined and well funded.  If they can’t come through our front door, our tax-funded employees will sneak around to the back door.

Enjoying the great outdoors

Field Trip


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