Watching Some Bills – Ed Reform in Illinois

Several of us involved with the Illinois Homeschool PAC have been noting some legislation making its way through the Capitol.  As the custom goes in Illinois, the backroom deals are where you want the glass against the wall listening in.  Meanwhile, Senator Maloney keeps popping up with his concerns about homeschoolers and the intrigue/complicity in being opposed to government interference in our home education.  He's the sponsor of an ed reform bill that was in the shape of a shell bill until last week.  Senator Maloney sponsored SB 07 is in the House now with our Big Gun House Speaker sponsoring the bill, while the most talked about Ed Reform Bill SB 630 also passed through the Senate.  We'll be watching both these bills, among others.

We're hoping Senator Maloney makes no more attempts to Drag Illinois Private Schools into Education Reform.  He promotes databases filled with children's names and the federal Race to the Top funding has much to do with "educational data systems".  That's an issue homeschoolers should keep their eyes on, as highlighted in Home Education Magazine's blog: Education Research.  

The Springfield Journal-Review published an article about a month ago:  Home-schoolers object to state oversight – Amanda Reavy

Homeschooler Ann Frailey said it well:

“Kids aren’t standardized. They all have strengths, and they all have weaknesses,” she said. “I have kids who are brilliant when it comes to science and math but are terrible spellers, so I can match the curriculum to them.”

Last month’s legislative proposal that parents who home-school be required to register with the state threatened such freedom for her family and thousands of other Illinois families who choose to home-school, Frailey said.

She and other home-school advocates believe state involvement creates red tape and erodes a family’s control over their children’s education.

“I want to focus on doing my job well and not spend time proving myself to somebody,” she said. “That takes away time for research and educational opportunities.”

Illinois currently does not require the registration of home-schooled students.

Senator Maloney might not intend to push private school registration with Senate Bill 136 again, but he is still looking for solutions to a problem that is non-existent.  Homeschoolers do not need state oversight.  From the SJ-R's Andy Brownfield:

State Sen. Edward Maloney, sponsor of a bill that would have required home-schoolers to register with their local school districts, has tabled the bill. He said last week he does not intend to reintroduce any measure requiring home-schooling registration.

“The bill was not the bill we intended to go out,” Maloney said.

The goal, he said, was to give school districts minimal oversight over a small minority of children whose parents claim to be home-schooling, but who in reality are not schooling their children at all.

“The huge majority of the people who do this do a conscientious job, but there are some cases where they don’t. … Those kids are not being serviced,” Maloney said.

“We’ll try to get to some sort of solution, but currently the home-school people want the status quo, they don’t want to move anything. I just feel that’s almost being complicit in ignoring the fact that there may be a problem here.”

What convoluted quotes you might expect from a Big Government legislator.  Here's my interpretation of this sort of talk.  

  • "almost being complicit"  – Senator Maloney wanted to toss out the word "complicit" –being involved in an illegal or questionable act. Seems like such a disagreeable word to use against law-abiding, involved parents who are choosing to educate their children at home.  He must feel he can justify the objectionable word by noting homeschoolers are  "almost being…", but he's obviously not a big supporter of what works well in homeschooling.  
  • "ignoring the fact" – Another foul launched from Senator Maloney.  Illinois homeschoolers are ignoring nothing.  We know the statutes (and the lack of statutes regarding homeschooling) better than most, including legislators and school administrators.  We know there are already statutes in place to contend with truancy.  We know this because homeschoolers have to know our rights and responsibilities.  We have people like Senator Maloney, other legislators and school authorities such as some Regional Office of Education Superintendents coming after us. 
  • "may be a problem here"- There really isn't a problem, but if we create the illusion, then the Regional Offices of Education can say they're necessary during these days of great Illinois debt.  Senator Maloney listens to the Regional Offices of Education Superintendents and their concerns a great deal.  Their lobbyist, Mike McCreery, spoke at the February Hearing stating registration is needed for homeschoolers. He gets paid a lot of money to say that.

Illinois Homeschool PAC's Chair, Curt Mercadante wrote a great letter responding to the above article and Senator Maloney's comments:

Perhaps Maloney should focus on fixing what’s actually broken, instead of working to enact needless, unnecessary and unconstitutional regulations that infringe upon the rights and freedoms of parents who choose to home educate their children.

Home educators are complicit in nothing other than our desire to do what’s best for our children. Maloney should be ashamed.

We'll keep watching,

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