We made it! And by “we” I don’t just mean Cheesy, Bee and myself, but the entire crowd of homeschoolers who flooded the capital building today to express our opposition to Illinois SB 136. Capital officials estimate that there were 4,000 of us there, which means that most of us had no chance of sitting in the room in which the Senate Education Commitee was hearing testimony on the bill. But in an unprecedented move, officials allowed the door to the hearing chamber to be left open so that those packing the hallway could hear what transpired. That was on the condition that the crowd in the capital building remain quiet, and you’ve never seen such a quiet crowd with so many children in it. Even those who were nowhere near the chamber helped out by keeping their voices down.
I love homeschoolers. They are such a varied, colorful group, and the eccentricities and strong opinions are part of what makes them so lovable to me. On the specifics of…well, almost everything, I’d probably disagree with many of them. But somehow when we’re together with nothing uniting us but our desire to homeschool without governmental intrusion, they all feel like family.
I must give Cheesy and Bee credit. They stood in the cold for over an hour waiting to enter the capital, then spent another hour and a half waiting for the committee meeting to end. We didn’t make it to that point. I finally took pity on their boredom and hunger and we left for a lunch at
McDonald’s. But both girls were patient and flexible and I dealt with a minimal amount of complaining. I’d say that was true of most of the kids I saw. All over the capital building clusters of kids sat on the floor talking and playing together, or simply waiting for something to happen. There’s no denying it: large crowds of homeschooling children are strikingly well behaved. And listen, public school parents, don’t get me wrong. I’m one of you, too. Remember that two of my children are in public school. I’m just telling you what I’ve observed.
Standing in the cold waiting to get into the capital, I explained to Cheesy and Bee that in our country the government is supposed to listen to the people. “And even though you’re only six,” I said to Bee, “just by being here today you are talking to the government.” On the way home Cheesy said, “So do we have to register?” I wish I could have told her that just showing up today, all 4,000 of us, was enough to kill the bill. Of course, that’s not how things work. Senator Maloney has suggested he’ll withdraw the bill – but perhaps only to revise and resubmit it. I hope wisdom prevails. But tonight I’m just proud of my people, my crazy quilt homeschooling family.