Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » MUCH HEAT, LITTLE LIGHT

    Filed at 9:52 am under by Tim Haas

    In the promised follow-up to yesterday’s breaking news in southern Illinois, the state’s attorney unleashes righteous fire unto the parents of truants but the reporter doesn’t give us nearly enough info about the case in question to get a handle on what’s really going on:

    Williamson County State’s Attorney Charles Garnati is taking a tougher stance with parents who fail to follow established curriculum guidelines when home schooling their children.

    On Thursday, he announced at a press conference that he has charged Marion resident Kim Harris with permitting truancy, a Class C misdemeanor punishable up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Harris is said to have willingly and knowingly allowed her 15-year-old son to be truant.

    Garnati stressed that he supports home-schooling in general, just not for parents who abuse the privilege.

    Some parents have allowed their children to be truant from public schools, and when threatened with legal action, have pulled their children from that school to avoid prosecution, Garnati said.

    “It’s what I call an end around,” Garnati said. “These are parents who have no intention of home-schooling their child. Unfortunately, there is no law on the books that criminalizes improper home schooling. What concerns me are those children who are chronically truant from school.”

    “Criminalizes improper home schooling”? Dude might want to ratchet his rhetoric down a tinch.

    The few specifics we get don’t come till the penultimate paragraphs:

    In the Harris case, [truant officer Mickey] Sullivan said she made three trips to the residence to see if there was an established curriculum. In each case, however, she found that there wasn’t one.

    “She didn’t produce any evidence of home-schooling,” Sullivan said. “It’s important that we send the message to those parents who are not home-schooling their kids properly that they can be prosecuted.”

    If the mother isn’t fulfilling her statutory duties, I can support this effort — if not the extreme tone behind it. But I need to know a lot more before I can sign on: How long has the boy been out of school? What’s the history — why did the mother pull him? Is there some definition of “established curriculum” in Illinois? Was there any evidence of education? I hope the reporter gets on the stick and starts trying to tell the story from both sides.

    6 Responses to “MUCH HEAT, LITTLE LIGHT”

    Comment by
    April 29th, 2005
    at 12:55 pm

    Well, I want to sue for every teacher my 16yo girl has at her public high school that has no lesson plan for the year. We went on a three week trip last year and not one of her teachers could give her the homework she would be missing because EVERY ONE OF THEM admitted to not KNOWING what they would be doing in that three weeks. Now, who is that different from the lack of curriculum that seems to be the problem here? As a matter of fact my child who tested very well during homeschool years went on the fail her certificate of mastery test last year. Imagine that, her teachers had no game plan, and she couldn’t pass the tests….. Maybe I could sue…

    Comment by
    Bill White
    April 29th, 2005
    at 11:54 pm

    Homeschooling in Illinois is remarkably free compared to that in other states. I don’t have the regs in front of me, but I’m sure I’ve never seen a requirement to follow an established curriculum. So since I don’t have the details, this is just a heads-up that something is fishy here and should be checked into.

    Comment by
    Susan Ryan
    April 30th, 2005
    at 1:56 pm

    Illinois has a private school exemption in the school code:
    “1. Any child attending a private or a parochial school where children are taught the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools, and where the instruction of the child in the branches of education is in the English language”

    That’s it. No established curriculum by any means whatsoever. Teach in English unless they’re learning Spanish or some other language. (That part always cracked me up, but it’s from long ago. One of the World Wars, maybe, can’t remember.) And cover your kid’s educational bases.

    Comment by
    April 30th, 2005
    at 7:51 pm

    “If the mother isn’t fulfilling her statutory duties, I can support this effort — if not the extreme tone behind it.”

    So, it’s just by-the-book home education that you support, then, rather than government-independent home education per se?

    I don’t register my children with the state in a state that requires it. I also don’t have my children tested or assessed. If the authorities in my state came after me, would you support them over me, since I have not fulfilled my statutory “duty” to register my children with the state and have them tested or assessed by a “qualified” and officially authorized third party?

    Comment by
    Tim Haas
    April 30th, 2005
    at 8:29 pm


    Well, no — don’t neglect the next line: “But I need to know a lot more before I can sign on.” If it comes out that there’s even a shred of evidence that she and/or the 15-year-old himself is making an attempt at education, I will denounce the prosecution. But if the mother really did just remove the kid because she was tired of being hassled and she’s hiding behind the easy Illinois law, then yes, I would support the prosecution, because a) it means she’s not a home educator, and b) to hold otherwise would abet a form of child abuse.

    On the other hand, I wholeheartedly support refuseniks such as yourself, and have vowed publicly to do the same thing if my state’s law were to go bad.

    Also let me add that when I wrote “statutory duties” I was thinking not of highly specific home ed laws but simply the general duty to educate inherent in laws like New Jersey’s — I apologize for being unclear.

    Comment by
    May 1st, 2005
    at 1:24 pm

    Another report by a different reporter can be found here: marion...03.txt

    There are a few more details listed. As an IL HS’r, this smells like another “Bruce Dennison” style witch hunt.