by Rhonda Robinson
Like the steady drip of water on an unsuspecting stone, over time erodes the most steadfast rock; so too can our homeschooling freedom erode with little notice. It would seem we are hastening the effort, by chiseling at our own foundation, one family, one superintendent at a time.
Last August a family in Charleston received a letter from their Regional Superintendent of Schools requesting a “school registration” and an “assurance form” be filled out and returned along with a calendar to the office, it was punctuated with a deadline for their school’s “verification”.
That's just one . . .
The superintendent showed up at their doorstep. The family set a time for him to return for an interview.
The official returned and was shown books, lesson plans, completed work done by the children. He too was impressed and stated that he was all for homeschooling as long as it was done “legally.”
Legally, by his definition, was that children are taught five hours a day, and all materials are to be produced upon request by the local school official.
This family felt as though they had won an ally by inviting this school administrator into to their home and showing him that they are a successful homeschooling family.
All of these families retained their right to homeschool. But there is a two-fold underlying problem that left unchecked can and will erode our homeschooling freedom in Illinois.
First, are the school officials who believe they have authority over our children while learning in our home, and that parents are to answer to the school for their children’s education rather than the other way around.
Illinois Law is clear and simple. We are considered private schools. The local school district has NO jurisdiction within our homes. Unless of course, you grant them that authority.
Second, there seems to be a disturbing trend of appeasement. The Joliet family was lucky enough to have had a teacher’s certificate. They however, were at least ready to fight in court, had her plea’s not have been heard.
How might this story have turned out if they were unschoolers with a mother who had no teaching credentials?
The Decatur family felt the right thing to do was to allow this official into their home and judge their homeschool.
Many, many homeschoolers are Christians. As such, some believe that we must allow officials into our home as law abiding citizens seeking to live in peace.
The problem with that is they (the homeschooling family) are not the ones breaking the law. The official standing at the doorstep is. If he is asking to see any private books, papers etc pertaining to a homeschool, then, he is not going through the proper channels.
When we do not hold school authorities accountable to the law, we forfeit our rights and freedoms. Precedents are set, and school administrators are emboldened.
I have to wonder, how many Illinois homeschoolers have sent in their forms and been “verified” in Charleston and elsewhere?
How many other good homeschooling families have open their doors to unlawful school official visits, and unknowingly served them a tray filled with bits and pieces of our homeschool freedom?
Last November, a family in Joliet was visited by a truant officer at the behest of the Will County Regional Superintendent’s office. In spite of a letter from Home School Legal Defense explaining the family’s right to homeschool without interference, the officer reported the family to the local prosecutor, who in turn, charged the family with truancy.
The judge had them in court before a local attorney could be secured, and was very set that these children must be in school immediately and would not hear the father’s explanation of homeschooling. The judge insisted the children be in school the following day.
After counseling with their attorney the mother went to the school, produced her teaching certificate, books and lesson plans. The impressed superintendent was then informed that his truant officer had not followed proper procedures. The ordeal ended with the superintendent not pressing the issue.
Just this month a family in Decatur was “turned in” to the Macon-Piatt County Regional office for homeschooling.