By Susan Ryan, Illinois Homeschool PAC Advisory Board -
Homeschool advocates consistently work to maintain homeschool freedoms while discovering we often know more about education statutes and laws than public school officials themselves. Knowledge is power and homeschoolers have used the rule of law along with perseverance in defeating many excessive demands from school officials.
The Chicago Public School System (CPS) is on the Illinois Homeschool PAC’s radar. Illinois homeschoolers and others should call for government accountability for its citizens. In 2005, the CPS Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan – yes, that Arne Duncan acting as the Obama administration’s head of the Department of Education – signed off on over-compliance demands for Chicago homeschoolers. We can speculate on the number of Chicago homeschool families who file a CPS Statement of Assurance Form and describe the manner of instruction to CPS and file a Home School Registration form with IL State Board of Education’s Data Analysis and Progress Reporting Department – all of which are unnecessary in order to educate your children at home.
In 2010, the Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch sent a cease and desist request to the Chicago Public School headquarters regarding this problem. CPS Chief Officer Flavia Hernandez sent back a response that looked hopeful. Except her claims weren’t true. Hernandez stated in her response that “we have modified our website to acknowledge that the forms linked to the website are not mandatory”. That letter was also cc’ed to the Chicago Public School general counsel, Patrick Rocks.
The potential elevation of over-compliance in the exit from a school system with over 400,000 students is worrisome. These families leaving these public schools should have great freedom to educate their children. New homeschoolers should be protected and not held back by burdensome, unwarranted and non-mandated demands. Homeschools are private schools no more deserving of suspicion and invasion of their domain than the Montessori or Catholic school down the street.
The Chicago Public School/homeschool problem should be a major target for homeschoolers. Noting the size of the CPS, Illinois homeschoolers can regard this as a significant threat against their freedoms. Homeschoolers across the country should also take note, as the Chicago Public School System is currently the 3rd largest in the nation. No excuses should be made in pursuing a call out against these homeschool freedom infringements. Let’s write the Chicago School authorities, send letters to the editor and put the word out that we won’t tolerate these intrusions into families’ lives and freedoms. While having to tout a sad 60.6% graduation rate, the Chicago Public School system surely has better ways to spend their time. New Chicago homeschoolers should not be burdened with uncalled-for restraints.