May 24, 2017

Update on HB 0230

Neither of HB 0230's two amendments that would have contained our wording have made it out of committee, mostly because Representative Thapedi did not show up at the meeting of the Committee of Higher Education last week that would have reviewed them. So yesterday, when the bill was debated and voted on, on the House floor, it did not contain our amendment. There was a lengthy debate, and one heroic representative did speak up for homeschoolers, likening what Thapedi did to us to "pulling the football away." He declared right there that he had been inclined to vote for the bill, but because of how we were treated, he was opposing it instead. That was Peter Breen. I am sending him a thank you note today. It's wonderful to know that there are legislators who do "get" us, and are willing to defend us against their colleagues who don't.

The bill did not get the 60 votes necessary to pass. However, it is still not dead. It could be voted on again next week. We are, of course, still opposed to it. Homeschoolers should continue to voice their views to their representatives.

Rebecca Jaxon
HOUSE representative to the
Ad Hoc Committee for Illinois Home Education Legal and Legislative Matters
Mar 16, 2017

Update on HB 0230

Thank you for all your calls to your legislators about this bill. As of right now, we have proposed an amendment to the chief sponsor and he is considering using it, but it is not yet filed. So, we cannot relax yet.

Please continue to make calls to (a) your own legislator and (b) the sponsors of the bill, and ask them to urge Mr. Thapedi to use the proposed amendment to protect homeschoolers from being disadvantaged by HB0230.

Keep the language positive because Mr. Thapedi has been showing a willingness to talk to us. We just don't want him to forget about our concerns while he is discussing the issue with his other detractors.

Thank you all!
Rebecca Jaxon
HOUSE representative to the
Ad Hoc Committee for Illinois Home Education Legal and Legislative Matters
Feb 23, 2017

ILLINOIS LEGISLATION ACTION ALERT

While it does not target homeschoolers, there is a bill in the Illinois House which would hurt us more than other private schools.

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocTypeID=HB&DocNum=230&GAID=14&SessionID=91&LegID=99197#actions

It is moving fast. Last year, the same bill failed to move out of committee.  This year it has quickly done so, and they have just added about 20 new sponsors.

SYNOPSIS: "Creates the Public University Uniform Admission Act. Requires each public university in this State to admit first-time freshman applicants as undergraduate students if the applicant graduated with a grade point average in the top 10% of the student's high school graduating class in one of the 2 school years preceding the academic year for which the applicant is applying for admission and (1) the applicant graduated from an accredited public or private high school in this State or from a high school operated by the United States Department of Defense; (2) the applicant successfully completed the minimum college preparatory curriculum requirements for admission to the university or satisfied the ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks on the ACT college admission assessment applicable to the applicant or earned on the SAT college admission assessment a score of at least 1,500 out of 2,400; and (3) if the applicant graduated from a high school operated by the United States Department of Defense, the applicant is a State resident or is entitled to pay tuition fees at the rate provided for State residents. Provides that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is not required to offer admission to applicants who qualify for automatic admission in excess of the number required to fill 75% of the university's enrollment capacity designated for first-time resident undergraduate students in an academic year. Sets forth other provisions concerning the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Sets forth other provisions concerning admissions. Provides for additional preparation for college, student outreach, and rulemaking."

COMMENTS: This specifically affects homeschoolers because we are never accredited.  This means that all spaces in the freshman class of every public university in Illinois (except Champaign/Urbana, which would be topped at 75%) will be filled up with the top 10% of all the public high schools and accredited private schools, before they can even consider any of the non-accredited school students (including us), GED graduates, the bottom 90% of those accredited schools, or graduates from other states.

The brick-and-mortar private high schools do tend to get accredited – not by the state, but by outside accrediting agencies. They are not alarmed.  We think homeschoolers should be. If this bill passes, homeschoolers will be very unlikely to be able to enter any of Illinois' public universities as freshmen.

ACTION:

Find your IL House Representative here: http://www.elections.illinois.gov/DistrictLocator/DistrictOfficialSearchByAddress.aspx (Please remember this is in the Illinois House only, so calling other office holders right now will not help.)

Please CALL your IL State House Representative: Tell them that you are calling regarding HB0230 and that you are opposed to it passing in its current form. If they ask, then go into some detail – but please stay polite and professional. Odds are they have no idea we are worried.

Please WRITE your IL State House Representative with something such as below:

HB0230 would give automatic admission to Illinois public universities to the top ten percent of graduates from accredited high schools. This leaves students from small private high schools, homeschoolers, graduates of GED programs, and students from other states to compete for a smaller fraction of freshman slots that are left.

Homeschool students are often very well prepared for college work, and the results show it. Universities around the country have devised ways to judge their academic potential up until now and have done so successfully.

We understand that HB0230’s goal is to equalize the opportunity for a college education throughout the state, but in neglecting to specify any way for the small, non-accredited private school students (which would include homeschoolers) to benefit from automatic admission, you will be putting them at an extreme disadvantage.

While I agree with the goals of the bill, please do not pass HB0230 as it is written now.

Above all please remember to remain calm, professional, and if you do write please make sure the note is error-free. Thank you!

Frequently asked questions about this action alert:

#1) Do homeschoolers have a lobbyist?

Yes – and no.

Illinois Home Oriented Unique Schooling Experience (IL HOUSE), Illinois Christian Homeschool Educators (ICHE), Christian Liberty Academy (CLA), Illinois Unschoolers Network (IUN), and Illinois Association of Roman Catholic Home Educators. (ILARCHE) each join together to form a group called the Ad Hoc Committee for Illinois Homeschool Legal and Legislative Matters (Ad Hoc).

The Ad Hoc Committee has been alive and well since 1984. They are a consensus driven group which advocates for homeschools throughout Illinois regardless of religion, ethnicity or homeschool philosophy. If you are a member of a group that is a member of one of the above groups you have a representative on the Ad Hoc committee.

The Ad Hoc Committee then sends a representative to a larger group: The Illinois Coalition of Non-Public Schools (ICNS). < http://www.icns.net/ > ICNS comprises dozens of groups including the Chicago Archdiocese, The Illinois Association of Christian Schools and the Association of Illinois Montessori Schools. Again, if you are a member of one of the homeschooling groups above you have a representative at the table.

NOW we can answer about the Lobbyist – ICNS has a wonderful, dedicated and smart lobbyist. When he sees something he lets ICNS know. Sometimes he sees things that he knows will not be a problem for most but will be for homeschoolers and lets the good people of Ad Hoc know.

So, yes, homeschoolers have a lobbyist in Springfield. Sort of.


#2) Did we alert HSLDA?

No. We have our own lobbyist and our own lawyers here in IL. While we understand the desire to get help from an “expert,” we in IL are quite capable of thinking for ourselves and acting for ourselves and on our own behalf.

Please also note that in conversations with HSLDA - in each and every case - they ask if we can handle it ourselves or if we are asking for their assistance. What we really need right now are phone calls, not a legal team. We have our own legal team and personal contacts that they, being from Virginia, are not going to have.

Please note: HSLDA was notified by quite a few local homeschoolers three days ago. Today, they released a preliminary statement to those people repeating almost word for word exactly what we said in our letter and saying they would look into it further and have more to say in a few days.