Yesterday afternoon, one of my homeschooling friends called me about going to a meeting later that afternoon at the Don Moyers Boys Club in Champaign. Our purpose would be to talk about homeschooling. And it was related to the sorry state of some affairs in the Champaign School District.
We lived in Champaign across from a Jr. High for several years; which was a nightmare story in itself. The Big Champaign school story is that parents demanded action across the board through the federal Office of Civil Rights, (as I understand it), resulting in a judge and monitor overseeing the school district. Seems like some other school districts could do the same. Chicago school district, for one.
And from what I heard yesterday at that meeting, problems still aren’t fixed and parents are looking at alternatives; including homeschooling.
I read last week’s article about parents considering homeschooling and it left me with some questions before going to this meeting.
She and Causley have contacted churches to donate space for the children, and they are trying to line up tutors through a University of Illinois graduate student in education. They also are passing out home school applications to other parents in the black community.
Who was telling the families that they had to fill out home school applications? I took a guess and one of the first points I made to the group was that public school administrators ask for these to be filled out and they are unnecessary and quite frankly, none of the schools’ business. (I didn’t remember to ask afterwards, so I’d like to hear the scoop on that.)
We weren’t sure what to expect. Were parents looking at homeschooling only as a threat to the school district, with no real intent to homeschool? We didn’t know coming in, but coming out, I was very impressed with the full room of folks who were looking for a step by step direction to get their kids educated, where they felt their kids were getting "no education".
And I thought I had research material coming out of my ears. Those ladies were into primary sources (the school district stats) and they were hitting the bulls-eye dead on with the information that wasn’t provided to families. Very impressive!
We talked about the basics of legally homeschooling. That "home school applications " do not need to be filled out. That a letter of transfer from the public school to a private school (homeschool) is necessary. And I was very glad that the Home Education Magazine brochures were available, as well as the resource page and legalities for Illinois homeschooling that my friend and I had collected last year. (The Plan that we didn’t foresee-If they don’t come to the Homeschooling 101 seminar of last fall, then we’ll come to them for the Homeschooling 101 seminar of this spring.) Continuing in the News Gazette article:
Champaign Superintendent Arthur Culver said he believes strongly the school resource officers will benefit the school district, and the district will monitor the officers closely to ensure the concerns of the parents don’t become a reality.
"I understand some people are not in agreement with the SRO program. They’re disappointed, and they have concerns," Culver said. "But I really hope, prior to making those kind of quick decisions, they would at least give us the chance to implement the program."
Unfortunately, it sounded like all parents’ concerns were not represented before this decision to bring in police to the school grounds. (Sorry, you can call them by a different name such as resource officers, which sorta sounds like a librarian sort of thing, but they are police officers. Why change the name, I ask in total lack of innocence? )
And of course there’s the usual homeschooling verbiage from the superintendent, (besides the talk without the walk):
He also said the school district can offer more to students than home schooling, including a more enriching social experience, more course offerings, advanced placement classes and support services for students with special needs.
Ignorance is bliss in his world, I guess. We’re over- enriched in social experiences. I’d like to be home a little more with a little less of that real world socializing. (Garden to plant…..) Plus our kids can talk throughout the day. I think they’ve mastered the standing in line thing in about 5 1/4 seconds. The youngest two do not know about the public school socialization experience. Is that a bad thing, really?
And surely Supt. Culver knows about dual credit classes that are available to all teens at Parkland? And surely he has read the Illinois education statutes to know that support services are available to all children for special needs? Surely he knew that?! Maybe it was a misprint? Maybe not.
"We’re not asking people to pull their kids out of the schools and have no other resources for them," Freeman said.
"If the statistics are showing that our kids aren’t learning anyway, what is it going to hurt to pull your kids out? They are still going to be taught, and let’s see if they can do a better job than the district does," she said.
That seemed to be the general consensus from the questions asked; in that they were looking for ways to give their kids an education. One of the reasons why many parents pull their kids out to homeschool is they want a quality education for their kids Right Now. Time is precious with and for our kids.
This community might not go the homeschooling route, as they weighed the different options in an informed and productive manner. I would say that the Anointed Hands Beauty Salon (love that name!), which must be a community center in itself, will be busy making some educational plans for their community. I wish them well and will help as much as we can for them to fulfill that need.