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Written by Diane O’Burns
Lies to parents continue to spew forth across Illinois from the public schools as we get closer to the first day of school. In recent days, many school districts and schools across Illinois have informed parents via the school or district Facebook pages and in online school platforms for parents of the school or district rules for homeschooling. For example, Staunton School district released the following question (#29) and answer in a document:
If I should choose to not enroll my student and want to homeschool my child, what process must I follow?
The district responded,
“in the event that you choose to homeschool your student, you must contact the Regional Office of Education to register your student as homeschooled, provide a curriculum to be monitored, and approved for your child, and are subject to rules and regulations provided through the state of Illinois.
Nothing in the district’s statement is accurate information based on the Illinois Homeschool law.
The Elwood CCSD #203 listed in their Transition Plan Back to In-Person Instruction,
Those parents who wish to just keep their children at home, but have no medical reasoning for this, will need to register for homeschooling through the Regional Office of Education.
First, homeschoolers are not “just keeping” our “children at home”; we are educating them as required by the guidelines listed in the Illinois Homeschool law. Second, homeschoolers are not required to register their homeschool.
ROE #17 Bloomington sent this to parents:
Homeschool–if you choose not to enroll your child in Prairie Central Schools, or any other public or private school, you may choose to homeschool him or her. Please know that if you do not enroll your child, you will not be entitled to receive resources from the Prairie Central school district. A copy of the homeschool registration form is available at ROE #17 in Bloomington, IL, where you will submit copies of your planned curriculum for approval.”
Again, we are not required to register, and we are not required to have our curriculum approved.
The Vandalia Elementary School Facebook page recently posted this warning:
if a parent chooses to homeschool that is of course their decision (as it has always been) but it will have to be done by registering as a homeschooler through the local Regional Office of Education in the former Jefferson School building.
Again, homeschoolers are not required to register their homeschool with anyone.
Also, numerous parents who are choosing to homeschool have discovered that their child has been automatically registered by the school for the 2020-2021 school year. Upon contacting the school regarding this automatic registration, parents have been told that sometimes the system just does that. So, will these homeschooling parents who were automatically registered as public school students now have truant officers show up at their door in the fall? How does automatic registration occur? No one in the schools seems to be able to give an answer.
Ryan Scott, principal of Main Street Elementary School in Shelbyville said this in an email to a parent who inquired about whether or not a child could return to the public school after being homeschooled:
As far as re-entry into Shelbyville schools from a home-school program, it is more case by case with the different programs. … I have had some students enroll from home-school with zero evidence of standards mastered. … or proof of even attendance. In cases where we have data from a home-school program such as accredited organization, it is easier to assess & enroll in the appropriate grade-level. In cases where I have nothing more than parent anecdotes on student mastery/progress. … we assess the student w/multiple data sources such as our nationally “normed” standardized assessments for ELA & Math & make decisions regarding the most appropriate placement.
Homeschools are not required to submit attendance records to public schools. As far as evidence of standards mastered, let’s take a look at Main Street Elementary School’s test scores from 2019. Forty percent of its students did not meet standards in ELA. Fifty-three percent of its student body did not meet state standards in Math in 2019. This is a school district with a 15:1 student-teacher ratio too. Mr. Scott should concern himself with the failing student body, rather than a few select homeschool parents that he claims to have come in contact with in his district.
This parent also asked about the upcoming school year and what they had planned for (this was in late July). Mr. Scott continues by saying,
Obviously, the most “stream-lined” system for families choosing to not send their child to in-person learning @ school, is the district “remote learning” program. I can’t tell you exactly what this will look like yet but we are definitely working hard on it & plan to communicate with our families ASAP.
This parent believes they cannot in good faith send their children into this giant unknown educational black hole, which in the spring was a total disaster.
This is Part 2 of an extended article about parents seeking to homeschool their children during the COVID-19 pandemic.