Following the last post about education pros seeking homeschool data, numbers and the involved tests to make that happen – this September 13th Illinois Lincolnwood Review article did not make me cringe and provided useful information. Homeschool related articles often feel like a Whack-a-Mole game challenge. Except it's not fun.
I didn't see "lax" in there once as related to Illinois' minimal homeschool regulations. "Friendly" and "free" are great adjectives to use explaining Illinois homeschooling.
Area districts vary in level of home-schooling involvement By NATALIE HAYES and KAREN BERKOWITZ
Illinois is a friendly place for parents wishing to home school their children.
While some states require parents to provide authorities with test results or use a state-approved curriculum, Illinois leaves parents alone to decide what to teach, when to teach it — or whether to let the child’s curiosity lead the way, a philosophy known as “unschooling.”
The parent also is free to decide when a high-school-aged student has met the requirements for a diploma.
But of course, there is always the on-high opinion from an assistant or other administrative whatnot.
“Parents have to make sure the curriculum being taught is in line with the state, and that the kids aren’t sitting at home watching cartoons and whatnot,” said Jason Ness, assistant principal of student services for Niles Township High Schools District 219.
My kids watched Disney movies in the 2nd grade public school classroom, so I suppose that's a higher form of featured curriculum homeschoolers don't provide. (Our kids left the building the following year.)
Here is a great synopsis of the way it is in the state of Illinois, except the state should be a little more hands-off of homeschool private schools:
The state’s hands-off stance makes it difficult to keep good statistics. Parents aren’t required to register their schools, which the state views as private schools by virtue of a 1950 ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court. While a voluntary form on the website says “please remember to register every September,” it also points out the exercise is voluntary.
I should point out our state is fiscally broke and broken. One might wonder why the school system, starting with the IL State Board of Education, spends so much energy, time and resources chasing down homeschoolers with their Home School Registration Form. Not only that, they devote an entire website page to homeschool 'help', when we don't need it and it's not in their jurisdiction.
But I did mention Illinois is broke due to poor management, right?
Doesn't seem worth the time and money to list "0" in a report when public schools do not oversee private schools here. In the article:
At District 219, zero students are being home schooled in the current 2012-13 school year, Ness reported. “We usually have one or two students a year being home schooled, and haven’t seen any uptick in the numbers over the past five or six years,” Ness said.
No homeschoolers in Lincolnwood, Skokie, and parts of Morton Grove and Niles seems a bit far-fetched. But that's not our problem. It's not District 219's either, for that matter. I did mention Illinois is broke.
The article reports about a different school district:
At East Prairie District 73 in Skokie, there is one family with two children being home schooled for the 2012-13 school year, and the district doesn’t get involved with what is taught to those students, Superintendent James Schopp said.
That poor family has all this attention from District 73, without any benefits. Maybe all this exposure will tempt them to not fill out a useless form next year. Assuming the quotes are correct, these two administrative statistics from two different school districts could clearly show education experts love to provide information that might not be completely accurate. But that's not our problem as long as we know our rights and responsibilities as Illinois homeschoolers. We don't register with the public schools.
The article continues:
According to the State Board of Education, only 684 home schools representing 810 children registered for the 2011-12 school year. Of the few parents that registered, 185 were from Cook County, while another 27 were from Lake County and 14 from McHenry County.
I'd love to see a "zero" factor in the Illinois State Board of Education Data Analysis and Progress Reporting Department pertaining to homeschools.No homeschool categorization would be fantastic. (I can dream.) ISBE created the Home School Registration Form that is not required.. And the Chicago Public School System (CPS) is definitely a problem area for Illinois homeschoolers. ironically and sadly, CPS is really broken as far as their public school results. The school yard is a terribly dangerous place in too many areas. It's so bad in CPS, the graduation rate is applauded because now only 39.4% of Chicago's teens don't receive a diploma. Those are Rahm Emanuel's happy facts, so take it for what it's worth.
CPS has been called out by homeschoolers for their abuses. Besides Cook, McHenry and Lake counties, there are some other troubled regions further south. (They're broke too.)
The article's authors predicted an Illinois homeschool estimate of 66,800. In 2003, a HSLDA representative estimated kids being home educated in Illinois at 90,000. As a taxpayer and contributing citizen in my local community, I don't really care how many there are except when I'm looking for some like-minded parents. They're coming in my back door and I'm just fine with that.
Touring Chicago from the River