They've begun activating their phone lines and email networks, something that hasn't been needed since 1999, when then-State Rep Ricca Slone introduced legislation that would have completely revamped Illinois home schooling.
Today there are reports of regional superintendents and local school superintendents making calls to state senators, asking them to support SB 136. Superintendents tend to think of themselves as responsible for every child of compulsory school attendance age as their personal responsibilities, whether or not the students are enrolled in their public school jurisdictions. This legislation would make their jobs enforcing the compulsory attendance law much easier.
In addition, there are growing concerns among home schoolers that state lawmakers that have background ties to the public school system may consider the registration requirement in SB 136 a "reasonable" request.
In 1999, the Peoria attorney introduced a bill forcing home school families to register with the state, have their curriculum evaluated by the local government school superintendent, have their students take annual school-administered standardized tests and report their students immunization records.
Slone was able to get a few lawmakers to join her effort, and in a firestorm of phone calls, letters, faxes and then the first emails from determined home schoolers, the representative decided to back off the legislation. She then proposed a watered-down version that was also soundly rejected. Finally, Slone filed paperwork and withdrew her legislation from consideration.
Soon after, Peoria area home schoolers worked to oust Rep. Slone from her state rep seat. They found a candidate they could support who fully understood and supported home education freedoms, and worked to get him elected in a Democratic district. The winner of that contest was 21 year old Aaron Schock, who became the state's youngest lawmaker and is now the U.S. House's youngest member.
Senator Maloney has an education background in both the private and public sectors, but wrapped up his education career at the Oak Lawn Community High School before becoming a state lawmaker. Maloney won the 18th Senate district after the 2002 redistricting defined the 18th as a more Democratic district, undermining former 18th District State Sen. Patrick O'Malley's Republican base. O'Malley bid for the governorship in 2002 instead, and Maloney ran unopposed that year, as he did in 2006.
In the 4-4-2 senate election cycle, Maloney ran for re-election again in 2008, and his Republican opponent Bob Shelstrom was tossed off the ballot when his petition signatures were challenged by then-Worth Township GOP Chairman Maureen Murphy. The 65 year old Maloney is scheduled for re-election in 2012, and may be facing re-districting and/or considering retirement.
Although Maloney hasn't cost the Democrats very much to protect over the years, Board of Election records show he's received campaign contributions from the Chicago Teacher Union and the American Federation of Teachers.
Through his time in the IL Senate, Maloney has rarely been controversial, but recently he voted against the area's highly influential Catholic Conference's lobbying efforts on school choice and the civil union legislation. This effort from Maloney to register all non-public school students has taken many by surprise, but it is not going unnoticed.
Illinois homeschoolers have been through these battles before, and are normally more focused on their children's education and curriculum than keeping a finger on the pulse of Springfield. However, once the hornet's nest has been poked as it has in SB 136's introduction, they will respond and work to simply be left alone to do their work with their students.
Join their effort. Not only are home schoolers' freedoms threatened, so are any families' that choose to place their students in non-public schools. And when their freedoms are threatened, so are ours.
Call your state lawmakers and tell them to encourage Senator Ed Maloney to pull his legislation from consideration. The Springfield Capitol Switchboard is 217.782.2000. Their email addresses are found on their individual bios at http://www.ilga.gov/.