This article comes from the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Illinois homeschoolers descend on Springfield after regulation attempt
BY KEVIN McDERMOTT > email@example.com > 217-782-4912 St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 10:17 am | (37) Comments
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. 10:17 a.m.– The halls of the State Capitol are crammed this morning with what appear to be hundreds of homeschooling parents, kids and supporters, here for a hearing on a regulatory bill from which the sponsor already is reportedly is backing off.
The bill would make home-school kids register with the state Board of Education. Currently there are no regulations. The sponsor, Sen. Ed Maloney, D-Chicago, originally presented the bill as merely a way for the state to know how many kids there are who are homeschooled, as they are currently completely off the radar.
“It’s as simple as that,” he told the conservative website Illinois Review last week.
Not so simple, as it turns out. Religious, libertarian, conservative and other websites have erupted with the issue in the past week, culminating in the crowd outside the hearing room right now.
There are reports that Maloney has pulled the legislation (SB 136), though it’s still currently in the system. In any case, the expectation around here is that lawmakers will quickly drop this thing once they get a look at all these angry moms, and get back to not balancing the budget.
The hearing starts shortly. We’ll update here.
UPDATE- 1:30 pm: As a crowd of hundreds sang “God Bless America” and “Amazing Grace” outside the hearing room, the committee heard “subject matter” testimony, meaning there would be no vote on legislation.
Maloney, in testimony, expressed surprise at the outrage over the bill. “The majority of parents do an exemplary job” at homeschooling, he said. He said the concern is those who use their right to homeschool as merely an excuse to let their kids stay out of school.
In the crowd was Larry Wright of Harvard, Ill., who said his reasons for homeschooling his kids were both religious and philosophocal. “I want to raise them the way I think they should go,” he said. “I’m responsible for my kids, not the state.”
He said he understands the bill would require just registration, not restrictions, but that it’s still “intrusive and unnecessary.”
“They’re trying to fix something that’s not broken,” he said.
Testimony indicated that Illinois is one of about a dozen states that don’t require homeschooled kids to register with the state. That list includes Missouri.
Maloney said after the hearing that he isn’t planning to pursue the bill for now, but will talk with homeschoolers about what can be done to identify those children who “fall through the cracks.”
“It was a productive hearing. Everybody learned something,” Maloney said.