Saturday, March 12, 2011

Of Carrots and Sticks

I promised SB 136 update so here is one. But before I do, here is what may seem like an aside.

The Brookfield Zoo of Brookfield (Go Figure!), Illinois had a program. They allowed public and private schooled children as well as home schooled children as well as their teachers/chaperone's to attend the zoo on field trips at no cost. Last Summer the field trip policy changed. Only Public and Private schools were listed as field trip eligible on the zoo's website and Home Schoolers were listed as ineligible. One exception was given on the website, stating that home educators who registered their students at the Illinois Board of Education would be able to attend field trips free of charge.

This change was not received warmly by the home school community. I remember my reaction was that since Illinois Home schools are considered by Illinois law as private school's they should already be field trip eligible and not have to do anything else. Other's saw it as a way to try to force home educators to register with the state when they were not legally obligated to do so. The reaction was a surprise to Agnes Kovacs, Manager of School Groups and Teacher Programs at the zoo. She told me that the zoo was just wanting to make sure that only school groups were getting in and just wanted to get some proof that the students were homeschoolers. The zoo now accepts proof of home education from H.S.L.D.A, and other home school advocacy groups as well as registration with the IBOE. She advised me yesterday that other advocacy groups have been recently added besides the ones at the website.

Not 6 months after this zoo issue was resolved State Senator Maloney
introduced SB 136 to make all Illinois Home Schoolers register with the IBOE. Now I understand the zoo's interest. They want to make sure that their free field trips for Illinois students is not abused and can be maintained. I can understand that as I went on such a field trip almost 40 years ago and that trip had a great impact on my life.

What I don't understand is Maloney's interest. He offers no incentives to home schoolers for registration. His motives are explained a little more in this e-mail I received from HSLDA . . .

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Illinois--SB 136 Epilogue

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Following up on his decision to table SB 136, Senator Maloney asked
several of us involved in the SB 136 hearing to meet with him.

Yesterday Sen. Maloney reiterated to us his belief that the government
needs to know the names and addresses of all homeschooled children. We
reiterated that this was neither necessary nor useful. After all, if
merely knowing a child's name and address could produce a quality
education, a quarter of Illinois public school students would not
still be without a diploma after four years of high school.

Sen. Maloney reiterated his concern about homeschooled children
"falling through the cracks." We reiterated that according to
published figures from State Superintendent Dr. Christopher Kock (who
was also present at the meeting), three-fourths of a million public
school children (765,989 to be exact) were truant for 2008-2009--so
that is where the state should focus its efforts concerning children
"falling through cracks."

Sen. Maloney reiterated his worry that nothing could be done to those
who violate the law while asserting they are homeschooling. We handed
him a copy of the State Board of Education's own webpage that points
to the Levisen case and describes exactly what procedure should be
followed.

While it was obvious that Senator Maloney still wants to increase
government control over homeschoolers, he said he would not move
forward on anything of this nature without first talking to us.

Before filing SB 136, he never asked for the input of those who would
be affected--the thousands of homeschool families in Illinois. We
welcome his new willingness to talk.

We are not asking families to take any action at this time. We will
continue to watch the situation carefully and let you know if and when
it's time to put down the books and drive to Springfield.

Sincerely,

Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Senior Counsel

Maloney needs to realize that home educators in Illinois aren't going to accept registration for registrations sake. I won't register for incentives like field trips. I will register if the law demands it. However, I will actively oppose any bill that even smells like SB 136. I still have not been given a good answer to how the state will pay for making sure home educated children don't fall through the cracks when they already can't fund the ones seeking public education. While this post may truly be an epilogue for SB136, I am sure it is not the end of the registration issue in the state of Illinois. I wonder what is next, more carrots or more sticks?

Thanks to the folks at Life Nurturing Education for putting this in the recent carnival of Homeschooling. Click here to go back to that carnival.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks again for the update. It pays to be vigilant on the registration issue. Study after study shows that home education produces better outcomes than forced public schooling. Sen. Maloney comes off as ignorant or disingenuous.

    ReplyDelete
  2. When I was in grade school, I was excited on field trips. I remember so well, we have a trip on a zoo. Mom took a lot of pictures. I enjoyed that trip so much that I made a scrap book on that stuff to treasure such experience.

    ReplyDelete