Thursday, May 26, 2005

Voluntary Should Mean No Way to Illinois Homeschoolers

I was digging around to see what's what on the ISBE site. I was thinking about this one statute in particular and how far along voluntary is from in your face with public school administrators. In your face would be a Regional Office of Education telling you that you need to fill out an information form to homeschool that includes Name, Address, Telephone Number, Full name of Child and grade level beginning current school year, gender,race/ethnicity and date of your child's birth. The header shows the form will be documented in the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Data Analysis & Progress Reporting.

So we'll move on to Data Analysis & Progress Reporting. Hmmm...under School Directories, there is a section for Nonpublic School Directory and Enrollment Statistics. In excel format is not a good sign. Where'd they get all that information anyway? Looks like they got it from the non-public registration enrollment and staff report form, of course. Any doubters that this isn't about homeschoolers too should note that under affiliation, of all things, the #15 check off is Homeschooling [Parent Operated]. One can certainly assume that this form has been handed to an exiting public schooler or two who is planning on homeschooling.

Looking further at this form, I see under Assurances some more check off boxes for an academic term of at least 176 days with no less than 5 hours of daily instruction or a yearly total of 880 clock hours. 5.2 is whether the school complies with federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination. I wonder what that means? Wonder what my kids think it means? 5.5 has to do with an immunization survey. Wasn't there a bit of a fuss about that in the late '90's with a now ex-legislator Ricca Slone? And instruction is given in the English language. Finally, 5.4 is the one requirement that is actually included in the private school (homeschool) exemption:
(105 ILCS 5/26‑1)1. Any child attending a private or a parochial school where children are taught 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;

When you're leaving the ps and they hand you any forms such as a Registration or Recognition of Non-public elementary and secondary school form to fill out, please take it, smile, 'tell them thank you, you'll take it home and have a look' and file it in the trash can when you get home. It is NOT required. It is voluntary. If the ps gets an inch, they'll take a mile many times.

Note " may voluntarily register" in the statute. I like this definition in Merriam Webster:
1 a : proceeding from one's own free choice or consent rather than as the result of duress, coercion, or deception b : not compelled by law : done as a matter of choice or agreement c : made freely and with an understanding of the consequences
2 : done by design or intention

Coercion, deception and duress would be when a ps administrator is telling you that you need to fill out this form before you can homeschool or as the Dupage ROE puts it:
For more information regarding home schooling fillout the form below.

If exiting public schoolers are armed with the actual statutes, then you have everything you need when administrators make overcompliance demands of your family. When you're leaving a failed program for your family, then it makes sense that the best people new homeschoolers can talk to are homeschoolers regarding your rights, your privacy and what's best for your family.

Homeschool Legislation Watch
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