So said an Illinois homeschooling mom about ongoing problems some Illinois Regional Offices of Education are creating for many homeschoolers. I like Kathy’s quote. It shouldn’t be ignored.
Some of these ROE informational monstrosities are listed at the bottom of this post and the tax funded websites are continuously being updated. The updates are not weighing in Illinois homeschool freedoms favor.
Ive often wondered what the results or public school administrators success rate of homeschool registration has been in my home state. A statistic was discovered within the bowels of the Lee/Ogle Regional Office of Education and their agenda concerning homeschoolers.
Amy Clemens, Regional Superintendent of the Lee/Ogle office put out a press release calling for homeschoolers to register in August of this year. She did this in at least two different publications. One being within the Sauk Valley News network and one in the Ogle County News Register. Apparently, she does this on a regular basis. She has had success. The 2006 Lee/Ogle Annual Report shows that there are 88 children registered with that Regional Office. If there were an average of 3 children per family, there are almost 30 Illinois homeschooling families registered in those 2 counties. Harvey Bluedorn had concerns about this when he wrote: IL Homeschoolers—-Eight Reasons Not to Register
I wrote a letter aimed towards the Sauk Valley area and it was published today. Its heading was Home-schoolers should not have to fill out forms. I would have preferred Homeschoolers do not have to fill out forms. Ahh, well, at least they published it:
I don’t live in the area, but have noticed that Lee/Ogle County Regional Superintendent Amy Clemens’ press release and clarification letter to the editor on Sept. 2 asking for registration forms from home-schoolers was not unusual from Illinois Regional Offices of Education. It’s sad, as noted by Elizabeth Milne’s letter to the editor on Aug. 26, that home-schoolers might consider hiring lawyers just to home school.
That prospect for an inherent legal right to educate children at home shouldn’t be necessary to educate our children at home. Why are home-schoolers “encouraged” to fill out long, invasive forms with Ms. Clemens’ office? We’re not obligated to do this. Granted, if there is compelling evidence that children are not being provided instruction commensurate to the public schools at their grade level, then the issue can be pursued. But that is only if there is compelling evidence and not just because our families choose to educate their children at home.
Surely, Ms. Clemens knows that an anonymous “concerned citizen” calling her office can have unfortunate agendas that have nothing to do with a home-schooled child’s education. Home-schoolers don’t need an invitation from the regional office to participate in the “home-school spelling bee.” Even so, it’s wonderful that there was a sense of community pride for the home-schooler who went to the national spelling bee. Was clarification also sent to other local media that printed the same press release?
Instead of chasing down information on all home-schoolers who have left the system, why not attend to the business within the scope of the regional office? Taxpayers would surely appreciate that focus, as well. One has to wonder what would be done with information that isn’t required, but yet actively sought by regional offices of education and school districts. These are law-abiding families, and the potential harm is distressing.
Illinois families have the choice to learn in freedom via homeschooling. We do not have to notify authorities that we are educating our children at home. (Unless families leave the public school, as documented notification of a transfer now needs to be provided to the school district.) My two youngest children who have always been home educated are not in any school records. I think our state is one of a handful of states who do not have to notify or register in order to homeschool legally.
Below is my gathered information from some of the Illinois Regional Offices of Education and their increasing demands for the notorious Home School Registration Form (as shown on the IL State Board of Education site in the Data Analysis and Progress Reporting Department):
Chicago Public Schools
CPS Policy on Home Schooling
Letter to Parents and the Statement of Assurance Form
Illinois Learning Standards (ILS)
Home Schooling Registration Forms
Information on Parent-Taught Home Instruction is available from the Regional Office of Education. This information outlines the rights and responsibilities of a parent under Illinois law. Illinois court decisions have established that a parent may teach his/her own child/children in their home provided that the child’s educational program satisfies the requirements as set forth in the Illinois School Code.
The Illinois School Code and Case Law permit home schooling as an option for parents who wish to do so. The law requires that the child who is home schooled receives an education at least equivalent to the public school program, the instruction is in the English language and that it includes an adequate course of instruction in the prescribed branches of learning, ie: language arts, biological and physical sciences, math, social sciences, fine arts, health and physical development.
In order to satisfy statutory requirements, it is the home educator’s responsibility to provide an organized educational program for the child while utilizing appropriate materials and teaching methods. You can download a list of resources where information may be obtained regarding instructional materials and support. The Regional Office of Education provides this information as a service to those interested in home schooling their children. This is not an endorsement of these organizations or of their publications.
Though you are not required to do so, if you do choose to home school your child/children we ask that you consider registering with our office. You can select to download the registration form below or you may contact our office to have the form mailed to you.
>Clinton, Marion and Washington Counties
How do I register my home school with the school district, the Regional Superintendent, or the State of Illinois?
The Regional Superintendent of Schools and the States Attorneys request that parents of children officially notify the Regional Office of Education in writing that their child or children are being home schooled. This notification will preclude investigation of truancy and possible charges being brought against parents for truancy. An application is available to print from this webpage so that you may submit the form to the Regional Office of Education. You may also wish to notify your local school district of your intention to home school. Otherwise, they may think that your child is truant.
St Clair County
Q: What do I have to do to start homeschooling?
A: Register with the state.
Fill out a registration form and return to your Regional Office of Education.
This form will be forwarded to the Illinois State Board of Education and the local school district to inform them that you will be homeschooling your child. The registration form is voluntary, but serves as proof if you would ever need to account for your child not being enrolled in a public or parochial school.
Will County Regional Office of Education
The Will County Regional Office of Education sends packets to those interested in home schooling which includes a cover letter, Statement of Assurance, ISBE’s Non-Public Registration Enrollment and Staff Report, and Resource List for Private Home Schools. Those choosing to home school are requested to compete these forms. However, to do so is not required.
What is going on in the Illinois homeschool community that families believe they should register to satisfy homeschooling requirements? There is nothing that I perceive as positive for those families who are filling out annual forms giving their childrens names, ages, gender, and ethnicity. Name of curriculum is requested on this form. Thats a line I would leave blank as we dont use a curriculum. But if the question is asked on this official piece of nonsense, then the school mindset dictates that they expect an answer. Im afraid for those families and others as I can hear the next question from a truant officer being .What do you mean, you dont use a curriculum? Many unschoolers know the difficulties in explaining how their children live and learn with time and effort towards their education. How difficult is it for an eclectic or unschooling family to provide justification to a school wonk that cant see past their cutting edge 15th edition of the 3rd Grade [insert large textbook company name] English textbook?
These are invasive questions and forms with an assumption that homeschoolers arent going to do right by their children unless theyre overseen by the state. Its a sad authoritarian assumption about parents who made the monumental decision to go against the societal flow and educate their children at home.
Does Homeschooling Have to Be Political?
Taking Charge – Larry and Susan Kaseman