I live in one of the most homeschool-friendly states in the country. In Illinois a homeschooling family is considered a private school. We are not accountable to the local school district, not required to register our children as homeschoolers with any governmental entity, and my husband and I have the authority (and responsibility) to choose curriculum and oversee the education of our children. What is required, by state law, is that our children be given instruction in English and in the same general subject areas as children in public schools.
I guess that amount of freedom just rubs some people the wrong way. State senator Ed Maloney has introduced a bill that would require homeschool families to register with the state of Illinois. Maloney, who has a background in public education, explained his concerns in an interview with Illinois Review:
What we want to know is where the homeschoolers are. It’s as simple as that…..There is virtually no regulation, no curriculum requirements, no periodic checking on their progress. Regional superintendents are telling me that they have no way of determining whether the homeschooled students are truant.
I cannot stress enough how much this bothers me. We could start by discussing the fiscal and educational difficulties of public schools in Illinois. What possible sense does it make for a collapsing system to be given greater responsibility? If registering homeschoolers is the actual goal of this bill, it will simply cost the state additional money as another layer of bureaucracy is added to the state’s educational system. But who are we kidding? The goal is not simply to know who is homeschooling. Just reread the quote above. Maloney wants heavily regulated homeschooling: control over curriculum, mandatory testing, and the ability to designate homeschoolers as truants. Senator Maloney, let me say this clearly: you don’t need to know where my children are. It’s none of your business.
I could rant about this at length, but I won’t. I feel strongly about the overreach of the state into responsibilities that rightfully belong to parents. My children were not entrusted to the state, they were entrusted to my husband and I. I might also add that a variety of studies of homeschooling – of the academic, social and emotional outcomes – show that as a whole, homeschoolers are doing just fine. Perhaps Sen. Maloney should turn his attention to the decaying public school system and leave well enough alone when it comes to homeschooling. In fact, forget “perhaps”. Leave it alone, Sen. Maloney. You showed your complete ignorance of homeschoolers when, in the same interview, you expressed surprise at the opposition you’ve already encountered from homeschooling families. You think you’re seeing opposition now? Just wait to see what happens if, God forbid, this bill makes it out of the Senate Education Committee. We are an independent, stubborn bunch, we homeschoolers. We don’t agree on much, but we agree that the government is not the ultimate authority on what is best for our children. We’ll be happy to come to the capitol and tell you that, en masse, if that’s how you need to get the message. That’s a field trip I’m ready to make.