Lobbying to Be Left Alone

Most Illinois homeschoolers are the rare breed of people who feel a duty to lobby in Springfield for nothing more than to be left alone.

The Virginia based K12 corporation has been lobbying hard in IL ($$) to create a state-wide virtual school. K12 already provides curriculum to the Chicago Virtual School, which appears to be satisfying many public school parents. Even as the Chicago Teachers Union fought its initiation in an ugly manner with a lawsuit they lost. CTU contended the Chicago Virtual School shouldn’t be publicly funded as it was a home-based homeschool.

Homeschoolers can appreciate the public Chicago Virtual School parents’ satisfaction with their children’s education.  But K12’s business ambitions have compelled many homeschool groups to keep K12 out of their homeschool conference vendor halls.  The reasons were exemplified by a high profile K12 spokesperson and former federal Department of Education Secretary, Bill Bennett.   He refused to understand the homeschooling way – as it got in his way.

From Home Education Magazine’s Larry and Susan Kaseman:

The major differences between Bennett’s goals and those of most homeschoolers can be seen clearly in Bennett’s comments during an interview by Mark Standriff on WSPD radio in Toledo, Ohio, August 16, 2002.

Standriff: What kind of opposition have you folks found?

Bennett: We found opposition from both sides of the political spectrum. Some of the homeschooling people have opposed us.

Standriff: Oh really, I would think this would be right in line with their thinking.

Bennett: Well it should be. Frankly, I’m disappointed. I’ve been defending homeschoolers for twenty years. But the principle I’m defending, Mark, is school choice, parental choice. The objection they have is that it shouldn’t be involved in public funding, at all. It shouldn’t be involved with government schools, as they say. But, I’m not prepared to relinquish $400 billion and just say, well never mind, this is not money that I’m entitled to. Parents are paying that money in taxes, they should have an option within the public school system that gives them a chance to educate their children at home, but be publicly accountable as all public schools should be.

Bennett’s entitlement project has caused huge headaches for homeschooling advocates, along with some homeschoolers who found the ‘free’ curriculum and computer took away their free time for educational enrichment.

A Virtual School Act sponsored by Representative Chapa-LaVia is sitting in the Illinois House Rules Committee. A similar bill (HB 3743) sponsored by Representative Chapa-LaVia came up just about a year ago, and it was a bit shocking to see homeschoolers referenced in this public virtual school bill again.

When I called Representative Chapa-LaVia’s office last year, I was told by an aide that she hadn’t discussed this bill with homeschoolers- before inserting mention of us. And here it is again, and here is the “home school” reference again.

One major 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 buildings 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.

The Northwest Herald also had a guest column late last month –Trends point to bright future ahead – written by the Asst. Regional Supt of Education for McHenry County:

“Perhaps most interesting is the increased interest in virtual education. Currently Illinois has a virtual high school, and Chicago has a virtual charter school. While the Illinois General Assembly has entertained a statewide program of virtual instruction, the states of Kansas and Florida already have them. The flexibility of virtual public school is interesting a surprising number of parents. Parents become the primary facilitators for their child’s instruction as they work through lessons delivered online. The state would be funding a system that would facilitate the education of a child but be delivered by the parent with instructional software.”

This school official had kind words for homeschoolers and other private schools, but the combination of a powerful legislator and a ROE official pushing virtual education with a “home school” legislative twist can give a homeschool advocate an unsettling feeling. 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 our Illinois government won’t balance our budget or pay bills on time as private citizens do.   Words via legal documentation do count and those words can take away freedoms.  Whether there is funding or not.

This was also posted on the Illinois Review and IL Home Education Network.

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Today’s Primary- Regarding Illinois Homeschooling

Illinois Home Education Network

In case you’ve missed it, here’s a reminder about candidates’ views on home education that are displayed on the IL Home Education Network forum.

Five Republican candidates for our Illinois Governor position have responded: Dan Proft, Adam Andrzejewski, Kirk Dillard, Andy McKenna and Bill Brady.

One Democrat Party Lt. Governor candidate, Mike Boland, responded.  Two Republican Lt. Governor candidates have responded: Randy White and Brad Cole.

One Constitution Party Attorney General candidate Joseph Bell responded.

Four Republican Senatorial candidates responded: Andy Martin, Patrick Hughes, Kathleen Thomas and John Arrington.

Homeschooling would not and should not be a one issue campaign.  But it does help to hear what a candidate thinks about a couple of incredibly important issues called family and education.  I’m appreciative, and a bit surprised of the time each of these candidates took to focus on homeschooling. It’s more information than we had before these questions were sent out.

If you’d like to pass along any of the candidate information, please reference the Illinois Home Education Network along with its link:  http://ilhomeschool.ning.com

Visit Illinois Home Education Network

Update to the new IL Home Education Network

Are you curious about our candidates’ views on home education?  Go check out what some have to say about homeschooling on our Illinois Home Education Network.  Our tiny minority would not be on most campaigners’ radar, except we do vote.  We also have a pretty tight lobbying unit if push comes to shove in Springfield.

Letters were sent out in the last few days to our gubernatorial candidates, as well as those vying for Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and US senatorial positions.  Their views on Illinois home education and family concerns were requested.

So far, we’ve received 5 responses back, with promises of a couple more.  That was 5 more than we would have had, if this hadn’t been attempted.  Not only that, the responses have been interesting.  One has a homeschooling campaign manager.  Another candidate, with a job description of educator, has supported all forms of educational choice while serving as an IL legislator. That apparently got him in hot water with a powerful lobbying group.

Homeschooling would not and should not be a one issue campaign.  But it does help to hear what a candidate thinks about a couple of incredibly important issues called family and education.

Curious about our Illinois candidates?  Join the Illinois Home Education Network, and jump into the social network that also functions as an advocacy network.

Illinois Home Education Network

 Hello Illinois Homeschooling Friends,

Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch is reaching out to all Illinois homeschoolers with the Illinois Home Education Network on Ning. 

The Watch list covers Illinois legal and legislative homeschooling issues, which has been useful in protecting our freedoms. We included those concerns in the Network, but now have support resources. Do you have a support group in your area that you’d like to list? Post it in the Groups, and its activities in Events, and someone looking for an area support group should find it. Are you curious about the Charlotte Mason Method, or unschooling, deschooling, or a particular curriculum? Are you toying with the idea of starting a blog? You can do it there. Come join us.

Do you have questions about the legalities of homeschooling? Are you a new homeschooler? You can ask questions and receive answers from folks who’ve been there and done that. There is also a forum set up for candidate responses to questions pertaining to homeschooling concerns. These questions will be sent out in the next couple of days to all state candidates of all parties with an invite to participate in the forum. When we get the answers, we’ll post them. (We’ve had a couple of candidates asking for a homeschool connection to air their views.)

There’s plenty there to start off an exciting network to benefit Illinois homeschoolers. Please jump in and share. We need a solid homeschool community from Cairo to Galena and Zion, over to Quincy and Danville and all of us in between.
http://ilhomeschool.ning.com/

Please share with others, and forward this information at will.

Sincerely,
Susan Ryan
Illinois Home Education Network