Illinois Virtual School Act- Again from Representative Chapa-LaVia

This was also posted on the IL Home Education Network.

A similar bill (HB 3743) came up just about a year ago, and it was a bit shocking to see homeschoolers referenced in that public virtual school bill.  When I called Representative Chapa-LaVia’s office last year, I was told by an aide that she hadn’t discussed this with any homeschoolers- before inserting mention of us.  I assumed good intentions, without her understanding what most homeschoolers want via protections in Illinois.  More here on last year’s bill:
Illinois Virtual School Bill Includes “home-schooled”


But here it is again, and the new bill has the “home-school” reference again.

One major obvious concern is any “home-school” reference in Illinois statutes.  We have private school status via a 1950 IL Supreme Court ruling.  Private schools in the non-home based  network help protect our tinier minority of homeschoolers via coalitions and such.  We could lose that umbrella protection with “home-school” separation from other private schools by precedent setting statutes like this one. I know that was explained to Representative Chapa-LaVia’s office.
Here are the specific references in this current HB 5168.  Bold face is mine:
The Virtual School Act– sitting in the Rules Committee; introduced 1/29/2010
Section 10. Creation and funding. There is hereby created the Illinois Virtual School, a statewide virtual school to serve Illinois students in kindergarten through grade 12 and Illinois teachers and other educators, funded through an annual State appropriation to meet the operation and capital needs of the Illinois Virtual School. Fees may be charged to schools and home-schooled families on a per enrollment basis to cover costs directly associated with the offering of online courses and the providing of online curriculum to Illinois schools. The Illinois Virtual School may also charge fees for services provided to students and schools outside of this State in order to further support the services provided to Illinois students and educators.
and again here:
(e) The Illinois Virtual School may not issue credit or diplomas except in the following situations:
(1) The student is home schooled.
(2) The student left school without earning a diploma and his or her class had graduated.
(3) Upon the request of the school district in which the student resides.

Representative Chapa-LaVia is the chair of the Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education Committee. Handling the IL school funding and appropriations is a powerful job, even if IL isn’t known for a balanced budget or paying bills on time.  Statute language does matter.

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