Every Sunday morning on our way to church, we pass by one of the local public school buildings and check the outdoor sign to see how much money the state of Illinois currently owes just that school district. Since we live in Fulton County and pay lots of property taxes, we always like to know where our thousands of dollars are being spent. Don’t know why, we’re just weird like that. Obviously it isn’t necessarily being used for the schools, though our tax bill leads us to believe otherwise.
In spite of the fact that the public schools in Illinois receive $625 million dollars each year from the lottery (a dumb idea) and another $15 billion a year in property tax revenue, and over $7 billion in federal dollars toward their annual budget, they still owe over 1 BILLION dollars to schools for the current school year, forcing them to cut programs and staff.
And let’s consider what those tax dollars purchase. In Chicago, Senator Maloney’s backyard, the overall graduation rate is barely over 50% of all students, dropping to less than 35% if you are African American. Over the past decades, while more and more money has been pumped into this behemoth system, test scores have dropped or flat lined. Add to that the bogus concept of tenure for teachers and the hundreds of thousands of dollars districts must spend each year to get rid of bad teachers and we quickly see that much of this money is not being spent to actually educate students.
After I sat in Senator Maloney’s education committee meeting that had been called to discuss whether or not homeschooling families ought to be required to register with the State of Illinois, I started thinking about how much taxpayers would have to pay for such an undertaking. Just how much further in debt is the senator willing to take the state in order to round up and evaluate homeschoolers? Knowing full well, as indicated by Senator Maloney’s two chief witnesses, that registering, by necessity, would go far beyond signing a piece of paper to be randomly filed, my mind reeled. How much would this actually add to the state budget?
*Salaries, benefits, state vehicles, and travel expenses for inspectors in each district
*buildings and staffs to run the homeschooler oversight offices
*curriculum consultants to sort through the piles of materials used by each homeschooling family (“Here are our Great Books; Susie is coming behind me with all 12 grade levels of our combination Sonlight and My
Father’s World. Watch out for Billy’s ant farm.”
*testing facilities to make sure all the homeschooling students were receiving a proper education (never mind that our graduation rate is near 100% and 85% of homeschoolers attend college, many with scholarships)
*procedure for making certain the moms were qualified to teach (maybe we should all try to get tenure so there would be no reason to examine us)
*money to implement the solution should a family not pass muster
*committee to establish requirements and procedures for all these things, including a budget to match the hourly rates of attorneys hired by freedom loving homeschooling families
*legislative fact finding junkets (OK, this one would be fun. “Senator, come on over and hold this magnifying glass while Junior dissects the mink intestines.”)
And on it goes.
Over the breakfast table the morning after that hearing, my 88 year old mother rightly observed, “Well, they would just have to charge homeschoolers a registration fee, just like they do when you register your car.” She was pragmatic, the result of decades of becoming a compliant citizen. But even a registration fee would not cover the cost to the citizens of Illinois, both monetarily and socially, if homeschooling families are threatened into compliance. Senator Maloney has opened up a can of worms and expects the taxpayers of Illinois to pay for it. I don’t think so.
To see more of what your tax payer dollars are used for, no matter where you live, head to Netflix, your local Red Box, or You Tube and watch Waiting for Superman. Encourage your family members to see it too and then to contact Senator Maloney’s office and tell him to fix public education first then get back to you.