SPRINGFIELD | Parents of home-schooled children would have to register their kids with the state under a proposal that could be debated in the Illinois Senate in coming weeks.
State Sen. Ed Maloney, D-Chicago, said his proposal could be a way to track how many students in Illinois are schooled at home.
"I was surprised to learn that in Illinois, there are virtually no rules or regulations relative to the concept of home schooling," Maloney said. "This is just the first step toward establishing, I think, some accountability. I think people do a good job at this, but how do we know that everybody does?"
Home schooling advocacy groups such as the national Home School Legal Defense Association and Illinois Christian Home Educators were quick to oppose the idea, saying existing mandates are enough.
Home-schooled students must receive an education equivalent to public schooling, according to current Illinois state law.
Christine Martin lives near Neoga and teaches her fifth-grader at home. Martin has home-schooled some of her five children and put some of them through public schools, she said.
Martin is part of the East Central Illinois Home Educator Network, a Christian-based group that organizes field trips, testing and social connections for home-schooled students. She said she has access to the same resources public schools use.
She said she doesn't think registering home-schooled students would deal with the problem posed by parents who might try to avoid educating their children by using home schooling as a cover.
"I personally don't think more legislation is going to solve that problem," Martin said.
Home-schooled students aren't required to register their children with any government entity, but parents can choose to notify their regional office of education or the state board of their intention to teach their children at home.
Mary Fergus, a spokeswoman for the state Board of Education, said the state doesn't track home-schooled students.
"They really are considered to be another form of private education," she said. "We're not out there monitoring children in their homes."
There are also no state testing requirements for home-schooled students.
The legislation is Senate Bill 136.