Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Registration at a Minimum...They're at it Again in Illinois

The Belleville News Democrat, a small paper serving the southwestern Illinois/St. Louis area, has an online editorial today titled “Registration at a minimum” that calls for state mandated registration and testing of Illinois’ homeschooled children.  You can read the entire editorial here. Their argument isn’t new.  They use the some-kids-fall-through-the-cracks argument to justify state oversight of homeschooling.   Their rationale?  But kids who don't get a proper education can become the problem of the state as adults. So everyone has a stake in children's learning whether it happens in a traditional classroom or in a home.”  The observation that some kids “can” fall through the cracks is not backed up with a single instance of any homeschooled kids actually falling through the cracks and becoming a problem for the state.  With so many public schooled students actually falling through the cracks (many of them with high school diplomas) and actually becoming problems for the state, the editorial writers at the News Democrat should focus their attention on public schools and leave homeschooling families alone. 
Please take a moment to read their editorial and leave a comment.  If you can, share your comment here after you’ve posted it to their website.  We’d love to read what you have to say!

Post Script
The current edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Life Nurturing Education.  Check it out!


  1. I wrote:

    The fact that some homeschooled children “can” fall through the cracks and “become the problem of the state” doesn’t mean that homeschooled children are falling through the cracks and becoming a problem for the state. There is no evidence that homeschoolers are creating a drain on our nation’s prison or welfare systems, certainly not in sufficient numbers to justify state entry into our homes. While the editorial writers scoff at the idea that the state wants to enter our homes and watch what is going on, that is exactly what the state wants. After the state enters our homes and watches what goes on, the state will create arguments against curriculum and lesson planning choices made by homeschoolers, and move towards state mandated curriculum and materials. They will claim that if homeschoolers do not use state-approved curriculum, children might fall through the cracks and become a problem for the state. Those who call for mandatory registration and testing of homeschoolers conveniently ignore the obvious incremental approach towards state regulation of homeschooling, innocently suggesting that homeschooling parents should see testing as something to “validate their work.” Homeschoolers neither need nor desire the state’s validation. We know we are doing a far better job than most public schools. Test results prove this. Lastly, as long as the US Constitution is still valid, short of probable cause that a family is violating state law, the state has no right to enter our homes and inspect our work.

  2. I just did a little bit of math. According to records and statistics supported by the ISBE*, the number of Illinois public school children that are falling through the cracks is 495,434. That number comes from the total number of children enrolled in 2010 (2,064,312) divided by the composite percentage (24%) of Illinois school children that do not "meet standards." (All tests, 3rd-11th grade)

    The picture is even worse when you filter out the results from Illinois’ 11th graders. Of 134,007 11th graders tested in 2010 (PSAE), 45% do not "meet standards." Add to that number the 12,912 11th graders that were evidently enrolled in 2010, but were not tested (more than likely because they have already "fallen through the cracks",) and it’s clear that 73,215 of Illinois’ publicly enrolled 11th graders have already fallen through the cracks.

    Your editorial states that 50,000 children are homeschooled in Illinois (all grades). Let’s assume for a moment that Illinois’ homeschooled children are failing at the same rates as the children being school in Illinois public schools (which I can assure you they are NOT.) That would mean that 12,000 homeschooled children are failing to meet standards.

    Hmmm, so let’s see....the number of homeschooled children that MIGHT be falling through the cracks is just a small fraction of the number of Illinois public school children that ARE falling through the cracks. In fact, the TOTAL number of homeschooled children in Illinois is a tiny percentage of the number of Illinois public school children that ARE falling through the cracks.

    Clearly, Illinois has a much bigger real problem to solve than the imagined problem of homeschooling.

    When Illinois educators (and politicians) can prove that they are CAPABLE of solving the problem of children that are already falling through the cracks in their own schools, then maybe they’ll have a leg to stand on when they attempt to convince homeschoolers that they are here to “help.”

    *All records/statistics were pulled directly from the Illinois Interactive Report Card, a project that was "created at Northern Illinois University with support from Illinois State Board of Education."

  3. but, but, but, aren't the detention centers and prisons and drug rehab centers teeming with those subjected to home education during their formative years?

  4. Holly, excellent post on the editorial page!

  5. Brilliant Linda! Holly, really excellent comment!

    There is so much wrong with this article I hardly know where to start. Firstly, this argument that people who don't want the government in their living room must have something to hide is...well, it's pernicious.

    Secondly, WHO are these people who persist in thinking that homeschooling is the haven of the lazy parent who doesn't care about education? It would be WAY easier to chuck my kids on a bus every day than spend an hour arguing over the proper way to write a nine. And if I really were lazy and uncaring and didn't intend to teach them how to write a nine, why would I want them underfoot all day? Think how much more teevee viewing and bon-bon eating I could do with my kids out of the house for 7 hours a day.

    All these arguments are so tiresome, especially since they have no basis in reality and fall apart when subjected to even the most superficial scrutiny.


  6. Our children are grown and were home schooled though high school and beyond. I love the post and the comments here. I was a product of the fail public school system. They claimed I could not learn and I was pushed aside more times than I care speak of. Yet, in coming to the Lord and opening up His Word, He taught me how to learn. I went from feeling like a failure to being on debate teams in many churches, writing articles for home school magazines and Christian magazines and was offered a professorship at an online Christian university, not because of what the public school did for me, but by the grace of God and what He did for me. I had seizures and a form of dyslexia that was never caught in all my years in the public school, great job, not.