Boiling Frogs

Many of us have heard the boiling frog metaphor.  If you place a frog in a pot of room temperature water turning the heat on low, it will sit contentedly. The frog will further enjoy its hot bath until without resistance, the frog has submitted itself to a boiled death.  The daytime curfew/truancy ordinances flying out of city hall and county board chambers seems to be one good example of that comparison.

 During the February 15th Illinois Senate Hearing called up by Senator Maloney and others wishing to impose registration on homeschoolers, I appreciated the good company of observers and advocates in the packed room. I could look over my right shoulder and across the aisle  at Karen Campbell whom I met in person that day.

Karen doesn't miss much in protecting our rights and she recently caught disturbing activities in her own town of Canton.  Plans were being laid out to amend their truancy ordinance and it was being pushed by the school administration.  Odd the school wouldn't be solving their own problems with their staff that has all the vital information rather than attempts to use the city as a middle man.  It looks like a money maker for the city, but one has to wonder how useful it is for children's education.  From the Canton Daily Ledger:

Peterson noted the current practice of allowing five unexcused absences by a minor under the age of 16 before responding to further truancy. Proposed changes in the ordinance would provide authority to fine a student after the first violation, and in this case a truant minor is defined as any unemancipated person under 18 years of age enrolled in a public, private or parochial school in Canton who is absent without valid cause from attending for a school day or portion thereof.

Illinois homeschools are considered private schools via a 1950 Illinois Supreme Court ruling.  

The fine for the first offense would be $50; the second, $75; and the third and subsequent offenses, $100. Each day a person is truant would constitute a separate offense.
Valid causes to be absent for a school day or portion thereof include: parental permission, engagement in approved school-related activities, illness, observation of a religious holiday, death in the immediate family, family emergency, and "any such other situations beyond the control of the student, as determined by the Board of Education."
Submitting a valid claim that contains false information, including falsifying a signature, would be considered a prohibited false excuse and subject to a fine and possible citation if the fine is not paid in 10 days.
Schools may disclose attendance records to local police. Upon receipt of a truant's attendance record, police will issue a written notice regarding violations and fines to the truant or truant's parent in person or by mail. If the violator fails to appear at the police department within 10 days to pay the fine, a citation will be issued to the violator, according to proposed changes to the ordinance.Peterson noted community service work may be sentenced in addition to, or as an alternative to, any fines issued. Failure to perform the community service may result in an increase in the term of community service or converted into a fine.

Here's more information from the Canton Daily Ledger [article not on-line] about the discussion regarding Canton's proposed truancy ordinance.  Karen came well prepared.  

During a period for public participation at the meeting, Karen Campbell aired concerns about the city's plans to amend its ordinance on truancy. She said she has been assured by both Mayor Kevin Meade and City Attorney Chrissie Peterson there is no intent to apply truancy regulations on home-schooled students; enforcement will take place only if officials are contacted by public or private schools.
Campbell said she never thought enforcement would take place otherwise; however, she said nothing in the ordinance states that intention. The ordinance should specify how enforcement will be conducted, especially with regard to students in home and private schools, to avoid confusion about the ordinance for future city councils, she said.
Peterson said later the truancy ordinance has been on the books since 1999, and no problem has occurred in its enforcement with any private school. She added she could contact the Home School Defense Association to investigate further. She suggested the ordinance amendment be held over for two weeks. That would allow time for others to speak on the matter.
The ordinance had been set for a second reading and vote on adoption.
"I think that's the wise thing," Meade said about delaying action on the ordinance. He added it should not apply to home schools or private schools, and language to that effect should be included in the ordinance.

Peterson states there is no intent to include homeschoolers, but that's not apparent in language.  At the same time, homeschoolers should be leery of these ordinances.  The government recipe for a dash of exemption can easily call for an exemption free diet later.  A robust freedom can quickly become an emaciated corpse without the watchful eye.  

The bottom line seems obvious to me.  There is no need for the city or county or other municipalities to have truancy ordinances when we're already paying for truant officers in the school system.  Besides many of these areas don't have a chronic truancy problem, as shown further below for a Boone County school district.  Surely taxpayers don't want more double billing on the backs of our children and families.  

The Illinois Homeschool PAC issued a Statement on Anti-Homeschooler Ordinances in Canton, IL and Boone County, IL.  This was also posted on the PAC Facebook Page.  There are informative comments from Karen Campbell along with Advisory Board Member and attorney Sharee Langenstein.  

Canton is in Fulton County.  But there have been Regional Office of Education efforts around the state pushing daytime curfew ordinances.  ROE #13's (Washington, Marion and Clinton Counties) Superintendent wrote ordinances calling for the police to report legitimate homeschoolers to her office.  Senator Maloney has been working with the Regional Offices of Education to push homeschool registration.  The Regional Offices of Education lobbyist testified for homeschool registration.  This is their backdoor approach and we should be sure they are not effective.  I hope many homeschoolers and other private school families show up at these local meetings protesting public school authority encroachment of our educational choice.


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