Front Page Article
Alternatives to Government Schools
By Joyce Geiler
In July of this year, the Illinois Review published an article titled “ILLINOIS SCHOOL CURRICULUM GETS AN "F" IN CIVICS, HISTORY STANDARDS (1), which states that Illinois' civics and history curriculum standards are inadequate according to the Fordham Institute report. The report can be accessed at link (2) in the endnotes. The report says Illinois is one of twenty states that failed to pass an acceptable level. The report states, “Illinois’ civics standards are a faint shadow of what state civics standards could and should be. Illinois’ U.S. History standards are almost nonexistent, providing insufficient guidance for educators who have the responsibility to teach American history.” The section of the report specific to Illinois begins on page 122 and is eye-opening concerning today’s general lack of knowledge of our history.
While this week’s article could focus on a connection between that which is noted in the Fordham Institute report and Illinois current woke culture, cancel culture, humanism and liberalism, the article will instead focus on another comment from the Illinois Review article. “On the other hand, homeschooling parents need not worry about keeping up with the public schools in these two areas. Teaching anything about civics and U.S. History surpasses the state's standards.” (3)
Homeschooling is an alternative to sending Illinois’ children to government schools, but it is not practical for all families. Are there other alternatives? Yes. First, though, parents must be convinced that government schools are detrimental enough to their children’s wellbeing so that they will seriously seek workable alternatives.
Laurie Higgins of Illinois Family Institute published an April, 2021 article, “A Plea to Exit Public Schools ASAP.” (3) It was also released as a podcast for those who prefer that format. (4) Illinois Family Institute has a generous collection of resources to assist parents to do just that – exit public schools. (5) Also, Public School Exit (6) is a national resource. Their booklet “Public School Exit, Rescuing Our Children,” is a how-to manual that can be read online. (7) The following paragraphs summarize some options outlined in the booklet. Note that all models involve a partnership of parents and church.
Homeschool Church-Parent Co-op
Parents homeschool their children and the church opens its location once or twice a week for some of the classes. The classroom environment may be helpful for some subjects. Children can socialize and learn communication skills. The classes can be led by volunteers or paid educators.
One-Room School Method
A teacher working with multiple grade levels in one classroom enables students to review concepts and also learn concepts above their own grade level. It encourages peer tutoring and a family atmosphere. The teacher would be paid by the parents and the church location would be utilized three to five days a week. This is a way for a small group to begin and to grow.
Church Membership Association Co-op
The church does the administrative portion, including SAT testing, keeping records and such while parents choose their curriculum and do the daily education.
Operating out of a local church venue, The Independent Learning Academy, which has been in operation since 2012, (8) pays the church for the use of their venue in a business relationship. The University Model from University-Model Schools International (UMSI) (9) is used for grades K-12. The model began in 1993 pursuing a philosophy and system of education in which the homeschooling family can customize their educational needs and experiences. Classes are scheduled at the church where the students meet with the teacher.
Concerned and creative parents throughout Illinois are finding ways to responsibly steward their children’s education. Linda Johnson reports on one such way found in Freeport. When SB818, the Comprehensive Sex Education bill, became law in Illinois, a group of Freeport citizens became urgently awakened to the necessity of a Christian high school. Freeport has some Christian elementary schools and a Catholic high school so people are looking for alternatives to the current high schools that are located in Freeport. The concerned citizens began by considering what resources already existed and what they would need to start a Christian high school.
The Freeport consortium determined that it made sense to utilize the Halstrom Home School Workshops model. The Halstrom co-op serves Rockford and greater northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin area, including Janesville, Rochelle, Freeport, Harvard and areas between. (10) Students attend class at a church or other venue once a week and complete required work at home under parental supervision before returning to class the following week. Traditional classes as well as specialized activities are included. This group of Freeport citizen approached the church where the elementary Tri-County Christian School meet in the past and found the church was willing to provide a venue for a high school. Then, they began the search for teachers, which has been successful. With some details yet to be worked out, the new Christian high school hopes to be ready to welcome students for this school year’s second semester. First some parents recognized a legitimate and urgent need, then they researched resources and finally began securing additionally needed resources. This is just one example of a community finding a way to exit the public school system and make Christian-based education happen.
Homeschooling may be more possible than some parents think. People can perish for lack of knowledge but knowledge is available. Details regarding Illinois homeschool requirements can be found at Time4Learning. (11) Homeschool groups provide support as well as activities throughout Illinois. Homeschool World lists 63 such organizations in Illinois. (12)
In this series of articles, it has been established that parents have a God-ordained responsibility and right to direct their children’s education and that relinquishing that control to Illinois’ public/government education system is detrimental to our children, to our society and certainly to the kingdom of God. Pointing out a problem without offering solutions is not helpful, so today’s article gives information about solutions. This school year begins very soon. We bless parents with grace and wisdom in their parental role.
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