Homeschoolers and Daytime Curfew

Salem folks didn’t back down and a daytime curfew ordinance was not passed. Here’s an excerpt from a WJBD radio article about the police chief’s good sense:

Salem Police Chief Withdraws Support For Proposed Ordinance on Truancy

Campo says there is still a law in place the police department can use to address truant students. “We can approach kids for truancy violations, the proposed ordinance was merely an attempt to get the kids that are truant into the system faster,” he says. “We can still do it the old way, so it doesn’t change what we can do in the least.”

Unfortunately, other communities in Keri Garrett’s ROE didn’t defeat the daytime curfew ordinances.  An area homeschooler said that the villages of Central City and Iuka passed daytime curfew ordinances.

Below is a portion of  Keri Garrett’s ordinance proposal for towns in Clinton, Marion and Washington counties.  Remember too, that homeschoolers generally don’t keep public school hours, and it’s certainly not mandated to do so in Illinois statutes.
Here’s just a piece of the 6 page ordinance proposal:

“Whenever a Police Officer is provided with the information that the minor is enrolled in a private school (home schooled) the officer will check with the parents/guardians and verify this information. This contact information will be forwarded to the Regional Office of Education #13 in Salem.”

Besides the basic freedom of movement rights any law-abiding citizen should have, the only (bad) reason that contact information should be sent to the ROE by a law officer is to track down homeschoolers.
I assume that Central City and Iuka passed this 6 page monster w/o any changes.  Central City has one grade school, and I’m not sure that Iuka has an active school building in its community.   Did it get passed because they didn’t have a heads up, or they just didn’t think it was a problem?

A Centralia article is posted here, regarding ROE #13’s attitude about homeschooling.  It also included information about ROE #25, based in Mt. Vernon and McLeansboro.

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IL Association of School Boards Releases Homeschool Article

“With no one actually counting and only voluntary testing, no one knows whether the success stories offered by the Lanes, the Nicols, the Bluedorns and the Vanden Bosches are typical of the home schooling experience. And with no accurate numbers, the complete story of home schooling may never be written.” – IASB site – Ginger Wheeler

The IL Association of School Boards released an article focusing on homeschoolers in their July/August 2010 Journal.  Homeschoolers are not under public school jurisdiction, unless there is a reasonable question about a child’s educational neglect.  The conclusion is quoted above, and the mantra throughout seems to focus on the lack of homeschool counts in Illinois.  Illinois homeschoolers do not report to or notify public school authorities, unless they are leaving the public school to homeschool.

Rising home schooling: Who really knows?

Illinois is known in the home schooling community as a friendly place: there are practically zero restrictions or regulations on homeschooling families here if learning occurs in English.

Home-schoolers revel in this freedom, and it may attract them to move to and settle in Illinois. But the Illinois Regional Offices of Education find the light regulations troubling, and some ROE superintendents say some families are illegally using home schooling as a way to mask truancy. Their hands are tied to do much about it.

As the posts here on the IL Homeschool Freedom Watch blog note, various ROEs under the IL State Board of Education guidance make frequent attempts to snare homeschoolers, even with their “hands tied”.   It’s quite amazing that some homeschool groups choose to work with the Illinois State Board of Education, when the ISBE is blatantly demanding over-compliance from homeschoolers on their website with their creation of a non-mandated registration form.  Some, as with Keri Garrett in the ROE #13, have successfully attempted to inflict daytime curfews on homeschoolers because of this ‘concern’ cited in the Centralia Sentinel:

“We ask that they [homeschoolers] fill out a registration form, because people do call and ask about children they see out during the day, and the state board is asking for more information.”

Fortunately Salem homeschoolers in her ROE defeated this infringement on their rights.

Continuing from the IASB article regarding our Illinois homeschool freedoms:

And that’s just fine for home-schoolers. One home school mom, and now a grandmother, Laurie Bluedorn, of New Boston, said her family moved to Illinois from Iowa so they could home school unfettered by pesky government intrusion. Bluedorn’s family moved across the Mississippi when her oldest son, Nathaniel, was 6 in 1982, a time when the practice was illegal in Iowa. She home- schooled all five of her now-grown children, and now her daughter Johannah, plans to continue the tradition with Bluedorn’s grandchild.

Bluedorns moving to Illinois became a gift to us regarding their homeschool advocacy.  Harvey Bluedorn wrote this article years ago reminding homeschoolers why we should stay vigilant about ISBE and ROE attempts to regulate us:

Illinois Homeschoolers –  Eight Reasons Not to Register

By Harvey Bluedorn, New Boston, Illinois

1. Because there is no requirement to register in Illinois. Period. Administrators attempt to impose their will upon individuals through intimidation, harassment and coercion. They invent requirements which have no foundation in law. When our freedoms are infringed upon by government bureaucrats, they become emboldened to take the matter another step. Continued at Trivium Pursuit site

Ms. Wheeler says this in her article: In effect, any child who is home-schooled, is actually attending a private school, according to the state.

That statement seems unclear, and vague.  Any Illinois child who is homeschooled is actually attending a private school because of the 1950 Illinois Supreme Court case ruling.  We should all understand that the Illinois government sites are not always accurate, or blatantly misleading.  Use of the term, “the state”, does not explicitly pinpoint the judicial branch determination that Illinois homeschools are private schools, along with the legislative branch generally leaving homeschoolers alone since.   That is the set precedent.

PEOPLE VS. LEVISEN

There was also acknowledgement of virtual school potentials into the homeschool community.  We can assume the excitement is regarding more funding for public schools and more homeschool accountability to school bureaucracies.  Neither has been proven to increase educational success for children.

With the passage of last fall’s remote education programming legislation, which allows school districts to claim state aid for virtual coursework, the state may make learning even more accessible for home-schoolers, and help schools find new ways to get into the game and pay for it.

The K12 company has been incessantly lobbying for access to Illinois public school funds.  They provide curriculum for the Chicago Virtual School, which appears to be successful for many Chicago public school students.  I don’t believe there was a concerted lobbying effort from Illinois homeschoolers to gain access to this virtual program.  But the Chicago Teachers Union lawsuit side show revealed a great deal about some school authority opinions regarding home educators.  Stewart was the Chicago Teacher Union President at the time of the CTU lawsuit against ISBE, the Chicago Public School, et al.  From the Chi-Town Daily News:

“For them to think they can address the social and emotional issues of a child without being in the same room as that child is ludicrous,” Stewart said. “You can only adequately address these issues in a classroom where you have necessary peer support and peer interaction.”

Ms. Wheeler acknowledged the intense focus on school socialization, and provided homeschoolers’ feedback in the IASB article Socialization section.  It’s fascinating that there is almost always a socialization section pertaining to the education of homeschoolers.  The young adult homeschoolers addressed the issue well in the article,  including pointing out a ‘home-grown’ spoof play: Home-schoolers with Social Skills: Live!

Long time Champaign County homeschooler Elizabeth Nicol revised her style of homeschooling as the years have passed.  From the IASB Journal:

Nichol said her teaching style has changed over the years. “There’s a lot of flexibility about what can be taught, but through elementary school, it doesn’t really matter which year you learn about the American Revolution or about the solar system,” she said. “There’s so much to learn about and so you just sort of choose. We have an opportunity to go to Scotland, so we are learning about castles.

“My plans have changed. We do a lot of exploring. We take advantage of a lot of opportunities. We read a lot of books. (With the youngest son) it’s much more disorganized, but I’m comfortable with that, because I have experience. People who are just starting out, are a little more uptight about (the curriculum),” she said.

Many homeschoolers have discovered what Elizabeth knows.  That’s why we are grateful to not be tied into the testing regimen of the public schools, along with the school schedule.  This is despite the Regional Offices of Education attempts to limit us to 176 days a year, as just noted in the recent Will County ROE post, for instance.  Homeschoolers appreciate learning day in and day out, without the time waste of documenting that time.  That bureaucracy is not conducive to learning.

Illinois homeschoolers would like to protect their families from what didn’t or wouldn’t work for their families in the public schools.  There is increased attention by organizations like the Illinois Association of School Boards, along with the powerful teacher union disdain for home education.  Worst of all, the Illinois school authorities from the IL State Board of Education and Regional Offices of Education – who know better – along with the bullying principal or teacher telling families they need to put up and shut up; should give homeschoolers a heads up.  We need to fight all those little and big fires to waylay the institutional trend against homeschoolers, including watching out for the legislator and legislation that is not homeschool friendly.  The Illinois Association of School Boards has backed off from infringing on homeschool rights in the past.  I hope they continue that precedent.

Illinois School Administrators Pushing for City Daytime Curfews

The Salem City Council will have a second reading (with possible passage) of a Daytime Truancy Curfew Ordinance tonight.  Why is the City Council passing a daytime curfew?  Because the Regional Superintendent of Education for Region 13 (Clinton, Marion, and Washington Counties) is pressing someone else to do her office’s job.

Keri Garrett (Region 13 Superintendent) has School Resource Officers, an Attendance Specialist, and a Truancy Coordinator just in her Marion County office.  That does not include the separate school districts’ attendance/truancy personnel. There are already funds in place in the school districts and Regional Office to oversee truancy of public school students.  Is this really a good time to require more from tax payers for jobs that are already filled?  Should Salem businesses be fined for not properly reporting families and children out and about during ‘school hours’?  How creepy is that?  Did the Salem police force ask for more help regarding vandalism and law breaking truants?  Apparently not.

Where does the buck stop in Keri Garrett’s office? School duties surely shouldn’t extend to new governmental agencies.  The schools have access to school students’ contact information not showing up for class.  Why don’t schools use that personal information and follow up with public school truancies?

Instead, Garrett requests infringements on other families’ freedom of movement who don’t attend public schools.  There seems to be a pattern with Garrett and her agenda.  Unfortunately, Central City – another school district under her jurisdiction – just passed a daytime curfew.  The Centralia Sentinel published an article [Fewer Students Registered as Taught at Home-Lauren Duncan] last month that spells out Garrett’s purpose.

Keri Garrett quotes from the Centralia Sentinel:

“We ask that they [homeschoolers] fill out a registration form, because people do call and ask about children they see out during the day, and the state board is asking for more information.”

I know of desperate parents that call or visit school employees and ask about their children’s progress, only to find out Johnny Still Can’t Read. So Nosy Myrtle next door who has no life but to make people miserable, and has a particular hatred for children, makes anonymous phone calls and churns Keri Garrett’s unease about the tiny minority of homeschoolers that are not included in her public school regime.  It appears there’s not much required to stir up Regional Superintendent Garrett’s concern about those out of her reach.   Other private school families not on the public school schedule should also be afraid of her goals.   Private schools, including Illinois homeschoolers, do not need to register with the school district/Regional Offices of Education.  With the current state of public school affairs, you’d think that private school registrations added to the public school pot wouldn’t be useful. Most private schoolers are satisfied with the money they spend on education.  But if you were looking for more control, as are Garrett and apparently, the Illinois State Board of Education, there could be more negative outcomes regarding direct education of children. They want bureaucratic control.

More from Garrett in the Sentinel:

“I would like to see a discussion on it with people who are interested.  I think homeschooling has its place, but then there is also no schooling.  I know for a fact that in some cases this is abused.  There are some people who come in and can’t fill out the form to register as homeschooling their children.  I was pretty amazed when I found out Illinois is more lax on its requirements than many other states.”

I would like to see spelling checked on the Regional Office of Education #13 website.  Ironically, Truancy Coordinator is misspelled.  I can’t help but wonder where “some people” who can’t fill out the registration form were educated.  I think I know, but those registration forms should be hitting the trash can anyway.  Beyond my petty spelling gripe; “homeschooling” and public “schooling” are completely different.  Homeschoolers don’t contend with a classroom environment and management. We’re making sure that our beloved children are receiving the best education they can get.

Further, there is no evidence that Illinois or Texas homeschoolers with “lax requirements” have worse education outcomes than states such as Pennsylvania or New York with their invasive homeschool regulations.  If that was the case, the University of Illinois would not have a University of Illinois site specifically to court homeschoolers.

In a similar daytime curfew debate, Lincoln’s alderwoman, Wanda Rohlfs, suggested that questions of legitimacy could be resolved by having homeschoolers wear badges when we’re out in the public.  (Unfortunately, Lincoln did pass a daytime curfew, and sure enough, their Regional Office of Education Superintendent Anderson also had an anti-homeschooling agenda.)

Surely we don’t need a history lesson from Germany.  Our country was established on the basis of freedom.  Let’s keep folks like Rohlfs and Anderson and Keri Garrett in their place and performing their jobs well.

Salem, don’t follow the same path as other Illinois cities and towns.  Daytime curfew is intrusive to law abiding citizens and it does not help truancy.  Rockford is a prime (and expensive) example of that.

Here is contact information for the Salem City Council. (618-548-2222 ext 20):

Mayor Leonard Ferguson

Council Members are: David Black, Tom Carr, Steve Huddlestun, and Kip Meador.

Our state tax monies pay for Keri Garrett’s office.  Here’s her contact information:

To contact us:

Marion County Office:  200 East Schwartz Street Salem, IL 62881 Phone: 618-548-3885 Fax: 618-548-4477

Clinton County Office:  930 B Fairfax Carlyle, IL 62231 Phone: 618-594-2432 Fax: 618-594-7192

Washington County Office:  230 East St. Louis Street Suite A Nashville, IL 62263 Phone: 618-327-8322

Peoria County Regional Office of Education-Homeschool Report

Illinois homeschoolers do not have to report or register with the Illinois public school system.

Illinois Homeschoolers –­ Eight Reasons Not to Register

By Harvey Bluedorn, New Boston, Illinois
1. Because there is no requirement to register in Illinois. Period. Administrators attempt to impose their will upon individuals through intimidation, harassment and coercion. They invent requirements which have no foundation in law. When our freedoms are infringed upon by government bureaucrats, they become emboldened to take the matter another step. Continued at Trivium Pursuit site

Our only contact should be when a family is leaving the public school to transfer into a private school as a homeschooler.  Illinois homeschools are considered private schools via a 1950 Illinois Supreme Court ruling.

But yet, the Peoria County Regional Office of Education reports 20 homeschooled children in their 2008 Fiscal Report.

STUDENTS ENROLLED
Public    29,217
Non Public    4,553
Home School Students    20

Since Illinois homeschoolers are non-public students, it’s unfortunate that homeschoolers are separated out from private schools in this report.  Let alone homeschoolers filling out an invasive IL State Board of Education over-compliance demand.

This form is filed in ISBE’s Data Analysis & Progress Reporting Department.  The expectation being that family would file a registration form annually.  It’s an unnecessary form.

Further information is provided in the ROE’s 2008 Fiscal Report:

HOME SCHOOLS MONITORED

Families        17
Students        20
Phone Inquiries        35

Homeschools should not be monitored unless there is proof of educational neglect.  It appears that these Peoria County homeschools are monitored because the 17 families chose to fill out an Illinois State Board of Education Home School Registration Form.

No Response from Champaign-Ford County School Authorities about infringements

The Champaign-Ford County Regional Office of Education sent a letter in September to a homeschooling family requesting a home visit. From the ROE Asst. Superintendent’s letter:

I would like to set up a time to come by and give you our packet and introduce myself.”

The Assistant Superintendent went further explaining in her letter to the family that she “will visit home schools across Champaign and Ford counties to answer educational questions for parents.”

The family had local legal counsel make a call to the Asst. Superintendent inquiring about the unwarranted requests and information given to this family.

No one invited the ROE Asst. Superintendent into their home to present her packet and introduce herself.  A cup of coffee and a chat at the library (that this family frequents) would have seemed a more suitable offer than inviting yourself into a homeschooling family’s home.  Any which way, the request for a ‘visit’ was inappropriate and over-stepping their legal boundaries.

The family sent a letter of assurance to the ROE stating that their homeschooled children “were being 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“.

The ROE packet was mailed to them in response and the family hasn’t been bothered since.  However, the mom, as a homeschool advocate, along with others in the area are concerned about the ROE’s further plans as quoted in this post.

This packet [Home Instruction Guidelines and Information] from the Champaign-Ford Regional Office of Education contains a Home School Registration Form that is requested by the ROE even though registration is not mandated. There is no good reason to request a Registration Form.

It seemed appropriate to follow-up for this Champaign County family and others. while wondering about the ROE’s future plans in the Champaign and Ford County areas. There has been no response to my letter.

Letters to the editor within the Regional Office of Education boundaries (Champaign and Ford Counties) will be forthcoming, as needed.  This letter below was sent (certified) October 23.

Dear Ms. Daly,

My family homeschools and I helped found a group called the Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch. Our group tries to answer legal homeschooling questions and contend with problems some families might have with authorities.

As you are aware, Illinois homeschools are private schools and are exempt from the Illinois compulsory attendance statute. Our legal responsibility is to ensure that our children are taught the branches of education that correspond to the public schools, and that instruction be in the English Language. (Illinois School Code 105 ILCS 5/26-1: Compulsory school age-Exemptions). Often, we find there are misunderstandings that need only involve more communications to be sure all (homeschoolers and public school authorities) understand the rights and responsibilities of Illinois homeschoolers.

Illinois homeschoolers tend to be close-knit, well-networked support communities that also work together to maintain our families’ educational autonomy. Through our family’s involvement in many Champaign-Urbana activities, I have become aware of some recent concerns about your Regional Office’s activities and correspondence relating to homeschooling. I am writing to ask that you consider revisions in your literature for the following reasons:

1) The Regional Office of Education (ROE) #9 publishes a “Home Instruction Guidelines and Information” page that is distributed to potential or current homeschool families who have withdrawn students from area schools.

a) Jurisdiction – The first sentence states that “ROE maintains, by law, jurisdiction over the supervision of public and non-public schools.” However, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) states that “The State Board of Education’s jurisdiction generally does not extend to private or parochial schools and for most purposes a home school is regarded as a private school.” http://www.isbe.state.il.us/homeschool/faq.pdf

b) Registration – The fourth point on your list asks parents to fill out a registration form. While the actual form does state that the form is voluntary, the inference throughout the rest of the materials in the packet is that the form is mandatory. The sixth point on your list, does accurately outline the only two requirements for private home schools, and does not include registration. There is no need for a Home School Registration Form from ROEs or ISBE, as there is not mandated homeschool registration.

2. In your letter to [this family] a few weeks ago, you stated that you “will visit home schools across Champaign and Ford counties to answer educational questions for parents.” It appears, from various viewpoints, that your plan to visit homeschoolers’ homes without invitation is outside the bounds of your duties. We are concerned about potential family rights’ intrusions and hope you will reconsider your plans.

We do appreciate you passing along homeschool support group contact information to those who contact your office. A variety of homeschool groups in the area provide useful resources, as well as support, to homeschoolers.

As this policy is reviewed and revised, I would be happy to keep our group members informed about your progress.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Susan Ryan

Lincoln-Mason-Menard Regional Office of Education

Logan-Mason-Menard ROE has developed a truancy program to track down truant public school students in the community.

The Lincoln Courier notes the SPIRIT program’s activities:

April 2007

A spirit group at the 420-student junior high has provided the regional superintendent’s office with the names of 80 students who have been truant, Bunner said today.

Here is a description of the SPIRIT program from the ROE:

PURPOSE:

The purpose of the SPIRIT program is to assist schools and families by identifying truant students, diagnosing causes of truancy, and providing intervention services.

The SPIRIT program supplements and strengthens local school service agencies without duplicating existing services. Elementary, junior high, and high school-age students are assisted through this program, which is funded through a grant obtained from the Illinois State Board of Education.

There is additional pressure is on law abiding citizens who would like to walk the streets freely, particularly for homeschoolers. Logan County’s town of Lincoln now has a daytime curfew.

One alderperson, Wanda Rolfs, suggested that homeschoolers wear a badge when they’re on the street during public school hours.

Daytime Curfew Doesn’t Work

Boone/Winnebago County Regional Office of Education

Rockford is in Winnebago County and part of the Boone/Winnebago ROE. They cut right to the quick with “home school” information:

Home Schooling Registration Forms

Information on Parent-Taught Home Instruction is available from the Regional Office of Education. This information outlines the rights and responsibilities of a parent under Illinois law. Illinois court decisions have established that a parent may teach his/her own child/children in their home provided that the child’s educational program satisfies the requirements as set forth in the Illinois School Code.

Here’s what Winnebago County’s Directory of Services says about the ROE job description:

Regional Office of Education

The Regional Office is responsible for registering teacher certificates, providing school bus driver classes, administering GED tests and issuing GED certificates, monitoring school bus districts for compliance with Life/Safety Code, providing environmental workshops and field trips to the Regional Environmental Center and registering home school programs. In addition, the Regional Superintendent serves as the TRuant Officer for the two county area.

Rockford has a daytime curfew. It does not seem to be effective either. as noted in this news piece. It does infringe on freedom of movement for all; particularly homeschoolers:

Rockford Truancy Debate Heats Up

Please remember, homeschoolers, that registration is not mandated or necessary.