Update on IL SB 136

On January 27, 2011, Senator Edward D. Maloney, D-Chicago, filed SB 136.  Just a little over a week ago the news of Senator Maloney’s bill began to gather steam within the Illinois homeschool community. It was a week of scrambling to get information about the now infamous bill…a week of incredibly well-organized fact-finding, communication, networking, and mobilizing on the part of homeschoolers from all over the state of Illinois.

On Tuesday, February 15, 2011, the homeschoolers of Illinois descended on Springfield to remind Illinois lawmakers that the state is accountable to its citizens, and not the other way around. Hundreds of homeschooled children, along with their parents and grandparents, got the civics lesson of a lifetime. In total, more than 4000 citizens made their presence known. This is how democracy was designed to work. This is how citizens respectfully, but forcefully, stand their ground.

And in the end, the citizens prevailed. This morning, the news was good. On February 17, 2011, SB 136 had been “tabled.”  According to the glossary of the Illinois General Assembly, tabling a bill means “laying on the table or killing.  Tabling removes a bill…from consideration.

There is some question as to whether Senator Maloney intends to let the matter die.  In a radio interview this afternoon, Mr. Maloney expressed a desire to continue to pursue the “truancy issue.”  It would be wise to continue to be vigilant. However, today’s victory is still a victory.  On the Illinois Christian Home Educators (ICHE) Blog, Jeff Lewis who spoke for Illinois Homeschoolers at the hearing on Tuesday shared thoughts about today’s victory. I appreciate his explanation of the current situation:

We are grateful that today the state senate voted to table Senate Bill 136. The vote came at the request of Senator Maloney, who introduced the bill that led to the hearing by the Senate Education Committee on February 15. That hearing brought to life the collective voice of 4,000 homeschoolers appearing at the State Capitol and thousands more who got involved even if they could not be in Springfield. Our voice has been heard; our legislators have listened. Just as ICHE encouraged families across the state to intervene during the past few days, so now we encourage those same families to express their gratitude for this decision in favor of freedom.

Many have rushed to point out that the bill was not actually voted down, or that another bill could easily be introduced that would start the debate all over again. That may well be true, but homeschoolers in Illinois live with that possibility every day. That thought may not have occurred to many of us before this week, but that is the nature of our legislative process.

ICHE’s Legislative Task Force is optimistic about Senatory Maloney’s willingness to listen to our input. He has publicly stated that he wants to work with homeschoolers, not against us. Senator Maloney was willing to sit down with us the week before the hearing, and we would welcome future discussion to help him understand the hearts and minds of the families of ICHE.

For now, we are rejoicing in God’s mercy to allow us to continue in the freedom we have enjoyed for many years in this state. As we look to the future, we are trusting in that same mercy to lead and guide us.

So what’s next for Illinois Homeschoolers?

First, we need to thank Mr. Maloney for his decision to table this bill.  ICHE and HSLDA also deserve our gratitude for arguing this case so effectively.  If you have not had the opportunity to watch clips from the hearing, please do.  It was VERY informative!

Next, we need to stay informed and involved in the fight to preserve our freedom.  Several organizations can help keep homeschoolers informed in the weeks and months to come.  ICHE’s Legislative Task Force, HSLDA, and the newly formed Illinois Homeschool PAC (currently only on Facebook), can all provide us with a wealth of information in the days ahead.

It’s been an interesting week.

Now, it’s time to get back to school before that mean truancy officer comes knocking on my door to offer his “help.”

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5 responses

  1. Hi Linda,

    I agree that it’s great that the bill was tabled, but after listening to the interview with Sen. Maloney I’m actually more concerned about him and his power than I was before. To continue to hear him harp on the truancy issue, especially after the really excellent testimony against the bill on Tuesday, it does start to feel as though he has a bit of a vendetta against homeschoolers. I would really, really love to be wrong about this, though.

    And the whole truancy officer testimony? I can’t believe that anyone in the state wouldn’t be concerned about that type of attitude, whether they homeschool or not.

    Elizabeth (who just realized that are both on the panel at Homeschool Village… I’m a bit slow… or over busy… or both.)

    • LOL…I’m a bit slow too, then!! We’re both living the same interesting life right now, huh?!! Did you you go to Springfield? I wanted to go, but it just wasn’t possible! I WAS very distressed by the testimony of that truancy officer!! Scary what some people think they have a “responsibility” to do!!

      The more Maloney speaks publicly, the more convinced I become that he is FAR from finished. He’s just giving Illinois homeschoolers more time to mobilize!! They thought 4000 was a large crowd….wait till the next time!! 🙂

      • I went to Springfield – even though I originally hadn’t thought it would be possible. I decided it was vitally important to be there and fight for our freedom so I went and took one other person from our area and her son with me – no one else from our immediate area went. It was the experience of a lifetime and I can look back and know that I did my best to fight for our freedom.

        When the halls of the Capitol were echoing with the patriotic and spiritual songs it took my breath away! And to see all of those people and children stand in 2 hours of total silence was amazing. The children pulled out books and sat quietly reading while the hearing was going on. The doors to the hearing were left open (something they have never done before). They agreed to do so because of the number present and only if we were quite. We had a few friends who made it inside the door and they sent us text messages telling what was going on.

        I didn’t see one protest sign – just a few people who wore small orange buttons that read “Register Voters, Not Children.” Our presence alone made a powerful statement.

        I was told this hearing was not only for us to register but that the main jist was that Maloney was going after ONLY homeschoolers – he wanted to change the bill from all private schools to only homeschools – that is discrimination! Right now he is flying under the radar to let us think we won but I know he will come back with a vengeance. You can find my full first-hand report at this link:

        If we have to go to Springfield again, I will move heaven and earth to get there and would encourage everyone else to also attend. We could easily triple the amount next time and make another powerful statement with our presence. If it happens again you need to get involved and attend to fight for your freedom or you could look back with regrets if we lose it.

        To better understand the difference between “democracy” (and most people would be shocked to learn that the word doesn’t appear in the Declaration of independence, the US Constitution, or any of the constitutions of the 50 states) and a true “Republic” I believe everyone should watch short and riveting a video about it that I posted on the wall of my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TracyParishCPRW

        Take care and God bless America and our freedom!

        Tracy Parish

    • Wow, Tracy! Thanks so much for leaving your thoughts about your day in Springfield!! Sounds like it was a very moving experience for you!! I’m so thankful for all the people who were able to be there standing up for the rights of ALL Illinois homeschoolers. Mr. Maloney said that the people who were there were the “cream of the crop” and that it’s the people who weren’t there that he’s worried about. I don’t think he gets it!! Glad you were there representing me!!

      Blessings,
      Linda

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