Illinois Imposes No Homeschool Regulations

The headline in the 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:

605 Capitol Bldg
Springfield, IL 62706



6933 W. North Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60302

708/848-2002 708/848-2022

Senator Lightford's contact info is here for respectful enlightenment

M114 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706

217/782-8505 217/782-0715

1127 South Mannheim Road
Ste. 114
Westchester, IL 60154




Illinois Imposes No Homeschool Regulations — 9 Comments

  1. Great points, Susan! I had very similar reactions when I read this article. I test my children every year, though the state of Colorado only requires it every other; but I wish Colorado DIDN’T require it. I test because I, as my children’s teacher, want to know how they are doing, not because the state needs to know it at all.

    In fact, I think Colorado has the lowest standard for homeschool test results of any state, and it’s precisely because the public schools here were doing so poorly. When they first instituted the testing law, they wanted to set the standard at 50th percentile – if homeschooled students weren’t scoring at least average, they would have to be put in school. (Guess they didn’t realize that meant that above-average students would be the only ones homeschooled – what does THAT do to their public school statistics?!) In the end, they were forced to require only 13th percentile on the tests – because there was a public school in Colorado where the students averaged only 13th percentile!

    But if they’re going to set the standard that low, why even bother to require testing at all? It’s an unnecessary hassle and expense, and to no good end.

    Thanks for the great comments!

  2. Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing this info. Have you sent it in to the Carnival of Homeschooling? More should read it.

    I just can’t get over the audacity of the leaders of a broken system insisting that they need to be given oversight of a successful system. Huh?!


  3. Thanks for the comments. The fog that is over the public school system with all of its complexities and the bottom line of too many failures is often intentional, imo.
    I don’t want to disrespect the people who work in the public school. At the same time, if they’re coming at our families’ lifestyle and free choice of education, they’ll have to answer with cool, hard facts. They don’t do that most of the time.
    Instead there seem to be attempts to build a bigger base with universal preschool, et al. It is audacious.

    I will send this along to CoH when I get my act together. My dad had a heart attack last week and is recovering well and full speed ahead during our harvest season. I’m following him around right now to make sure he doesn’t pop his catheterization incision. In the farming world, his heart’s timing makes sense during harvest season, but his head’s not liking it. 🙂

  4. We recently moved from Virginia, where our homeschool program was on the state’s approved list (meaning we didn’t have to be subjected to any regulation) to North Carolina, where we are required to register and submit standardized test results.

    I don’t like it one bit. Some state pencil pusher should not have any control over my children’s education. They are doing just fine thank you, much better than if I was teaching them myself in the public school building. It is not necessarily the teachers who make it hard to learn in ps, but the combination of paperwork, the pc correct an watered down curriculum, the poor socialization, and the narrow-minded thinking of the “system” to put everyone into boxes and attempt to march thousands of children in lockstep.

  5. I’m sorry NC homeschoolers have to deal with those regs, Kat. In your case, you can fully appreciate what you, your kids lost. I know there are some great advocates in NC and I hope those regs get better for you folks.

  6. Hi I live in a safe state where it is safe to raise kids but stadardized testings are still mandatory every 2 years. Ridiculous!!Not necessary at all . The state and the country just want to know how our kids are doing . parents should know their families and kids business not state and county .It ahould be a parents right to keep the scores private wether their child is above average average or below average. When going to a college I think tests may help to figure where a student ‘s ability is to see if they can achieve a certain degree or go into that feild in the first place . If home s chooling usually the student is prepared to go into the feild of interest and ability because they have been studying the subject most their life . exceptions can be if they want to change their feild of study that they have been living all their life . I dont want to move to Illinoise or Montanna where there is no mandatory testings at all . oUR family is settled and like North Dakota . Not it’s weather but its people and raising kids here is great place to do so. I guess no where is perfect . I f my student tests poorely or below the 30 % I will have to deal with the school system and work out a team effort to bring up my child to their level instead of her own level and pace . ALso learn their style and methods instead of her own . IT is really a sad situation being forced to learn their methods and eventually not learn at all because of the public schools interference . This is horrible !!!

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