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Challenging the commission's recommendations

According to media and state leader reports, homeschoolers dominated six recent hearings held around the state by Governor George Ryan's Commission on Revising the Illinois School Code. Released on August 2, the commission's 1,283 pages of recommendations contained two changes and a confusing strikeout section that concerned homeschoolers:

  • Lowering the compulsory school attendance age from age 7 to 6 would expand the jurisdiction of the state's authority over their children and potentially limit parental choice.

  • Forcing parents of private and homeschool students to "submit proof of immunization and physical examination with their local public school district or regional office of education" because the commission is concerned about the "safety of all children" would create a de facto registration of all homeschoolers. (HSLDA recommends simplifying this requirement to have immunization information submitted to the school of attendance—whether public, private, or a private homeschool.)

  • Due to what officials say was a transcription mistake, the struck-out phrase "children being homeschooled shall register . . ." was included in the online version of the proposals of the Governor's Commission, giving the mistaken impression that it is current law for homeschool children to register. Not true—homeschoolers have never had to register with the local public schools.

Home educators turned out in force to voice their opposition to these provisions. Roger Erber, president of Illinois Christian Home Educators, reported on the last hearing:

Thursday night's School Code hearing in Elgin . . . was the last of the six hearings, and was a big success. There were over 200 people in attendance. The testimonies lasted from 5:00 to 8:40 with only a five-minute break. The committee reassured us over and over that the public schools did not want to, and will not be keeping our health records!

This isn't the first time such issues have created an outcry from Illinois homeschooling parents. Over the last three years, involved home educators effectively defeated other state legislative attempts to lower the compulsory attendance age and to force parents to submit their child's immunization records to the local county health department.

Home School Legal Defense Association commends Illinois homeschoolers for diligently defending their freedom and making their voice heard. Read our e-lert, related newspaper articles, and the latest updates at www.hslda.org/hs/state/IL.

— Christopher J. Klicka