Illinois lets parents decide on home schooling
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Updated: October 14, 2012 12:49PM
While some states require parents to provide authorities with test results or use a state-approved curriculum, Illinois leaves parents alone to decide what to teach and when to teach it.
“Many families view homeschooling very much like sending their children to a private school, and that certainly is their right to do so,” said Superintendent Darlene Ruscitti of the DuPage County Regional Office of Education.
State statistics show that at least 684 home schools exist across the state for the 2011-12 school year, representing 810 children. Of those, 185 are registered home schoolers in Cook County. In DuPage County, where 32 homes are registered, Ruscitti said homeschooling is not a major topic of conversation.
“Registration in Illinois is voluntary, so that may explain why the numbers are low,” said Mary Fergus, a spokesperson for the Illinois State Board of Education.
The Home School Legal Defense Association estimates the number of home schooled children in Illinois at about 60,000.
“Nationally, homeschooling is growing by 7 to 15 percent a year. In Illinois I would say it’s probably around 10 percent a year,” said Jeremiah Lorrig, director of media relations for the legal advocacy group.
When asked their reasons for homeschooling, 36 percent of parents told the National Center for Education Statistics that the primary reason was to provide religious or moral instruction.
Another 21 percent were concerned about the school environment, while 17 percent were dissatisfied with the academic instruction in their local schools.
Under the state’s compulsory attendance law, parents may be asked to provide evidence that the child is being taught the same subjects as would be taught to public school children of the same age.
There are groups to support homeschool families throughout the Chicago area, including the Westside Chapter of Illinois Home Oriented Unique Schooling Experience. The group meets Mondays from September through May at the La Grange Public Library.
Click on the links to find out more about home schooling in your community.