An Illinois bill that would have required home schooling families to register with the state Board of Education has been tabled — but activists tell FoxNews.com the fight is far from over.
Curt Mercadante, chairman of the Illinois Homeschool PAC, said he remains extremely concerned that the idea will reappear in some form. The bill was tabled by Illinois state Sen. Edward Maloney, a Democrat, on Thursday following intense opposition.
“Nothing is ever dead in Springfield,” Mercadante told FoxNews.com. “The goal is not to stop Senate Bill 136. The goal is to stop mandatory home schooling registration from ever being considered — and to protect home schooling rights overall.”
Mercadante said roughly 4,000 people flooded the Illinois capital building in Springfield on Tuesday for an initial hearing for the bill. Among other proposals, Mercadante said the possibility of mandatory home visits by state officials to home schooling families was considered.
“The effort of home schooling registration by the state is a government ‘solution’ for a problem that doesn’t exist,” he said. “Study after study shows that home-schoolers consistently outperform the rest of the country in basic skill sets.”
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Maloney, the bill’s sponsor, said he will hold meetings during the first week of March to discuss his next move. If any new legislation pertaining to home schooling registration were to be introduced at a later date, it would be “under a different vehicle,” he said.
“It depends on the outcome of these discussions,” he told FoxNews.com on Friday.
Maloney and other registration advocates have said they’re concerned some home-schooled children are not getting proper education.
Meanwhile, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HLDA), a Virginian legal advocacy group, applauded the tabling of the bill, declaring the development a victory.
“This victory is for sharing among all of you who braved the cold and the long lines and came to Springfield, and the many others who made phone calls but could not attend personally,” read a statement by Scott Woodruff, the group’s senior counsel. “What you sacrificed in time, trouble and finance, has, I hope, been abundantly recompensed. Your prayers have been answered!”
According to state laws and HLDA officials, states vary widely in their requirements pertaining to home-schooled children. In states like Illinois, Texas, Michigan and Oklahoma, there are no current requirements for parents to initiate contact with state officials.
Other states such as Pennsylvania, New York and North Dakota have relatively high regulations, including requiring parents to submit test scores or allow home visits by state officials.
No states, however, have a specific penalty for not registering home-schooled students with state officials.
Despite Thursday’s apparent victory for home schooling advocates, Mercandante, who educates his two young children from his home in Morris, Ill., said he will continue the fight.
“We are going to keep it up,” he said. “They have opened a can of worms on this. We’re continuing to work to get assurances from Maloney and the rest of the legislators that not only is SB 136 dead, but the entire issue of home schooling registration is also dead.”