Written by Diane O’Burns
Public school parents are terrified of entering back into horrible remote learning programs like the ones they encountered this past spring. They need information so they can make plans for their children’s education, and yet many schools still do not know what materials or e-learning system they will be using later this month. It sounds like the 2020-2021 school year will be one giant experiment using precious human beings.
Ryan Scott, principal of Main Street Elementary School in Shelbyville said this in an email to a parent who inquired about the upcoming school year:
We do not have a specific plan in place for remote learning until we can gather more information.
Mr. Scott then changed his tune in another email:
Each building level Principal works with the parents and student to find the best fit for a student that has been homeschooled and is either returning to the public school, or entering a public school for the first time. The main area of concern is if the student will struggle with the material at a given grade level when they either enter or return to in person learning in the school district. With that being said, the district has not had any discussions about holding students back if they are homeschooled for a semester or a year. It might come into play in extreme cases, but I do not believe it will be the norm.
The public schools are expecting homeschoolers to abide by an arbitrary set of standards that far too many of their own students are failing to meet.
In a separate email to the above parent, Shane Schuricht, superintendent of Shelbyville Unit School District #4, goes on to say this when asked about the remote learning choice:
At the elementary, we are exploring the possibility of an external platform such as “Edgenuity” or the possibility of dedicating a teacher per grade-level to plan, support, etc. … the remote learning families.
Mt. Olive School district provided this inaccurate information regarding homeschooling on their Facebook page as well as in a letter to parents:
All homeschoolers are required to register with the state of IL, they have to make an appointment to bring in their full curriculum for approval by the state, and then they have to also turn in records to the state each year.
Mt. Olive homeschoolers are not required to do any of the above.
Jenny Gregory Binney, a teacher from Mt. Olive School district, decided to post the following on Facebook when the false requirements came into question:
Why in the world would you not be required to register your homeschoolers as homeschoolers? That seems absurd. How in the world are homeschoolers in Illinois held accountable … if they don’t need to be registered or need a certain curriculum? Some parents may say they are “homeschooling” when they are not doing anything. Just seems like there isn’t a way to hold parents accountable.
She later deleted her comment after she was informed by many homeschoolers that the district information was incorrect.
Well, Ms. Binney, I would like to ask the same question of the public school: Who is holding them accountable for the poor student outcomes that are happening in the Illinois public school system. Let us look at the Mt. Olive District stats for the 2019 school year. The district has an 83 percent graduation rate, with 31 percent of students meeting state standards in ELA and 34 percent meeting state math standards.
Of the 11th grade students taking the SAT college admissions exam, only 21 percent met the standards in ELA and 18 percent met the Math standard. The average score for the SAT in the Mt. Olive district was a 949. Out of the 37 high school graduates in Mt. Olive in 2017 (most recent year listed), 18.9 percent attended community college after graduation, and 14.3 percent of those graduates required remediation before being allowed to take college level courses. Is this acceptable after being educated for 12+ years?
I reached out to several principals and superintendents in other districts regarding what needed to be done to homeschool, but none returned my emails.
The most shocking and egregious statements from public schools have come from district employees stating that should students be homeschooled, they will not be able to return to the public school setting again–ever. This is completely untrue.
For years, many parents homeschooled until 8th grade and sent their children to public school for high school. Some homeschooled students want to try a year of high school out, so they transfer in and most transfer back out to homeschool the next year.
Parents in the Shelbyville and Taylorville district report that they have been warned that should their child be high school age, they will automatically be placed at the freshmen level, no matter how many homeschool high school credits they have earned or what their age is upon seeking to enroll in the public school.
Parents have also been told that a high school diploma will not be achievable in homeschool and that a GED is necessary. They are also told that colleges will not accept homeschooled students. Again, these claims are false.
Many public schools in Illinois are already tainting the pathway for homeschoolers by providing false information and bullying parents so they are too afraid to leave the supposed safety and comfort of the public school system. What loving, caring parent would want to cause their child not to get a high school diploma or not to be able to get into college? All this false information keeps parents from choosing homeschooling.
These schools, along with countless others in Illinois and across the nation right now, are showing a blatant disregard for the homeschooling laws that we have fought so hard to keep in place. Government school educators are bullying and lying to parents who are seeking to educate their children via a viable and legal alternative: homeschooling.
This is Part3 (of 3) of an extended article about parents seeking to homeschool their children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
IFI recently held two important webinars to help better inform, equip, and encourage parents to make the move to home education. These webinars can be found on the IFI YouTube channel under the “Home Education” playlist tab. These videos are posted for anyone curious about homeschooling.
In our first webinar we featured three experienced homeschool mothers who address frequently asked questions about Illinois law and how to begin homeschooling.