Watching Out for Homeschoolers

This is a repeat post published on Corn and Oil in June of 2009.

Last week, a Cook County Circuit Court summary judgment ruled in favor of the Chicago Virtual Charter School (CVCS).   The Chicago Teachers Union lawsuit dismissed claims the Chicago Public School/IL State Board of Education authorization was illegal.  The well financed union claimed that the Chicago Virtual Charter School was actually “home based” homeschooling.  

It’s been an ugly row, and somehow the Illinois homeschooling name seemed to be in the middle of this issue.  Both of these parties (the Chicago public schools, along with the CTU President, Marilyn Stewart) talked a good bit about “home schooling”.  It has occurred to me that the only one speaking on homeschoolers' behalf was the ruling Judge Riley.  That's a bit unsettling.

From a K12 Business Wire:

The Court concluded that the Plaintiffs arguments fail as a matter of law. The Court determined that CVCS is not a “home-based” school and therefore not in violation of charter school law, and that the school is in full compliance with the Illinois School Code.
In the ruling, the Court emphasized the differences between the model of instruction employed by CVCS and traditional home schooling, stating:
“Home schooling is a well-known and established means of education.While the form of home schools may vary, the underlying substance of the education is decided by a student’s parents.Home schools do not have to teach according to ISBE’s [Illinois State Board of Education’s] mandated curriculum, nor are the students required to take standardized tests to meet the State’s requirements for basic skills improvement.CVCS, however, is required to teach according to the ISBE curriculum.CVCS students must meet the State’s requirements of the No Child Left [Behind] Act.CVCS is subject to fiscal oversight by the ISBE and CBOE [Chicago Board of Education].And, unlike home-schooled students, CVCS students are graded by certified teachers.”

I wrote more about it on Home Education Magazine News & Commentary:

“Home schooling is a well-known and established means of education”

The Chi Town Daily News on June 12,  quoted the CTU prez, as saying the virtual schoolers were "essentially home-schooled".  As far as she was concerned, legal details don't matter (let alone that autonomy issue); there were not enough union members involved with this endeavor.

As I read Judge Riley's ruling excerpt above, he seems to have made a solid, factual decision based on Illinois charter school statutes.  This determination has been a message that other states' homeschoolers have had to convey themselves, as no one else (particularly K12), bother with that marketing sludge.

Who’s Watching Out for Homeschoolers?

In 2002, K12’s chair made this case below about his hope that independent homeschoolers would put up and shut up.  (Bennett was also the Reagan administration’s Secretary of Education):

How William Bennett’s Public E-Schools Affect Homeschooling-Larry and Susan Kaseman 
November-December 2002

The major differences between Bennett’s goals and those of most homeschoolers can be seen clearly in Bennett’s comments during an interview by Mark Standriff on WSPD radio in Toledo, Ohio, August 16, 2002.

Standriff: What kind of opposition have you folks found?

Bennett: We found opposition from both sides of the political spectrum. Some of the homeschooling people have opposed us.
Standriff: Oh really, I would think this would be right in line with their thinking.
Bennett: Well it should be. Frankly, I’m disappointed. I’ve been defending homeschoolers for twenty years. But the principle I’m defending, Mark, is school choice, parental choice. The objection they have is that it shouldn’t be involved in public funding, at all. It shouldn’t be involved with government schools, as they say. But, I’m not prepared to relinquish $400 billion and just say, well never mind, this is not money that I’m entitled to. Parents are paying that money in taxes, they should have an option within the public school system that gives them a chance to educate their children at home, but be publicly accountable as all public schools should be.

Chicago Virtual is a go

Union goes one way and homeschoolers can follow?

The union voice from Ms. Stewart is harsh.  (She's been having some issues of her own lately.)  Chi-Town Daily NewsTeachers union pans virtual classroom plan July 17, 2006

“For them to think they can address the social and emotional issues of a child without being in the same room as that child is ludicrous,” Stewart said. “You can only adequately address these issues in a classroom where you have necessary peer support and peer interaction.”

Stewart expressed concern about a lack of interaction between students and educators.

“Qualified teachers are only providing 20 percent of the lessons,” Stewart said. “Who are the certified professionals who will supervising the students when they are off-line?”

In Illinois, that “S” word takes on a whole new meaning with the state's Social/Emotional Learning Standards.  Socializing is a bit different than School Socialization.  (I have a solid preference for the former.)  Being in the same (class)room as a Marilyn Stewart… sounds like a child's monster in the closet nightmare.  

For any who are interested, Illinois politics regarding education isn't any prettier than what's under the previous governor's huge head of hair.  If you want to read more about Arne Duncan (the new Dept of Ed Secretary and former Chicago Public School head), here's a start:

Arne Duncan: "Privatizer, Union Buster, and Corporate Stooge"Schools Matter Blog

Not much difference between Duncan and Bennett.  

Obama, Arne Duncan and Chicago Public School Policy on Homeschooling

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