Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Don't Let Compulsory Attendance Turn into Compulsory Education

Home Education Magazine's Taking Charge (Larry and Susan Kaseman) column for July/August has information on the difference between Compulsory Attendance and Compulsory Education in the law. And there is a difference. From the column:
Homeschoolers are often asked to prove that their children are being educated. When the challenge comes from relatives, friends, or acquaintances, it varies from a minor annoyance to a serious interpersonal dispute, but it doesn't prevent us from homeschooling. However, when legislators, judges, or court commissioners challenge us, homeschooling freedoms can be undermined. One of the most effective ways to deal with such legal challenges is to explain that laws require attendance, not education. This column explores what compulsory school attendance laws actually require, why so many people fail to understand the distinction between compulsory attendance and compulsory education, and how homeschoolers and others can use this distinction.
And their practical What We Can Do section states:
• We can find our state's compulsory school attendance law, read it, and keep a copy available for future reference and ready access should we need it. We can get a copy of the law by doing an Internet search for "compulsory school attendance" and the name of the state for which we want the law or by contacting one of our state legislators and asking them to send us a copy of the law.
• Remember the importance of the distinction between compulsory attendance and compulsory education.

• Explain this distinction to other homeschoolers, legislators, people who might be involved in court cases, etc.
Know the law. Understand it and from what I've seen, you'll be in much better shape than many public school administrators.
Here's Illinois's private school (homeschool) exemption again:
(105 ILCS 5/26‑1) (from Ch. 122, par. 26‑1)
Compulsory school age‑Exemptions. Whoever has custody or control of any child between the ages of 7 and 17 years (unless the child has already graduated from high school) shall cause such child to attend [my emphasis, as 'attend' has a much different meaning than 'educate'. The former is a more passive verb relating to school experiences, where the latter is an active verb. Snarkiness end] some public school in the district wherein the child resides the entire time it is in session during the regular school term, except as provided in Section 10‑19.1, and during a required summer school program established under Section 10‑22.33B; provided, that the following children shall not be required to attend the public schools:
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;

Note compulsory attendance, not compulsory education.

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