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Isabel’s morning briefing

Wednesday, Jun 5, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: How Illinois’ hands-off approach to homeschooling leaves children at risk. ProPublica

    -Illinois is among a small minority of states that places virtually no rules on parents who homeschool their children.
    - Educational officials say this lack of regulation allows parents to pull vulnerable children from public schools then not provide any education for them.
    - No oversight also means children schooled at home lose the protections schools provide, including teachers, counselors, coaches and bus drivers — school personnel legally bound to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

At 11 Governor Pritzker will sign the FY25 state budget. At 4:30 the governor will participate in fireside chat at Social Innovation Summit. Click here to watch.

*** Isabel’s Top Picks ***

* Tribune | For special education students, transitional schools bridge the gap between high school and full-time employment: Under Illinois state law, students with significant cognitive disabilities are entitled to up to four years of continued education at what are known as “transitional schools” after their traditional four years in high school, up until they turn 22 years old. But for special education graduates, transitional schools like Southside can provide a bridge from school to the workforce through specialized instruction, social-emotional learning and opportunities to complete paid work at Chicago companies throughout the school year.

* Journal & Topics | Democratic Township Leaders Expected To Fill 53rd State House Seat Wednesday: The open appointment meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 5 in Meeting Room A of the Mount Prospect Public Library, 10 S. Emerson St. Those wishing to attend are asked to send an RSVP via email to

*** Statehouse News ***

* WAND | Pritzker, advocates hope House passes hemp regulation proposal during veto session: “There’s no restriction on who gets it, how much they get, etc,” Pritzker said. “So, I really believe that we need to step back and ask what is in the best interest of the health of kids and adults across the state. I think regulating it is proper.”

* WTTW | From Gun Control to Public Transit Rescue, A Look at What Didn’t Pass the Illinois General Assembly This Spring: Advocates who say lives are on the line are hoping Karina’s Bill — named in honor of a Chicago mother shot and killed after getting an order of protection from her abuser — will have a chance come fall. A judge who grants an order of protection can revoke an abusers’ Firearm Owners Identification card, meaning the individual can no longer legally have a gun. But that doesn’t mean that person actually gives up their firearms.

* WRAM | Farm Family Preservation Act Not Included in Illinois’ Passed Budget: Last week, Illinois legislature passed a $53.1 billion state budget. One priority for the Illinois Farm Bureau that was not included in the budget was the Farm Family Preservation Act. Warren-Henderson Farm Bureau Manager Ashlyn Quinn explains: “The Farm Family Preservation Act, which is the estate tax law that was going to help increase that, which is so vital for all farm families to have that passed. We did make it all the way to final negotiations on that, but unfortunately it did not get included. So, right now it is sitting at $4 million, this would raise it to $6 million. It did also change it so that it was an exemption and not a threshold, so only those dollars over the $6 million would be taxed, as opposed to right now where the entire estate is taxed if the threshold is reached. It does tie the $6 million exemption to inflation. We were told it is not a no, it is just a not right now.”

*** Statewide ***

* WSIU | Inaugural Illinois Manufacturing Hall of Fame inductees announced: The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association has announced the inaugural class of inductees into the Illinois Manufacturing Hall of Fame, which recognizes the people, products and companies that have made a substantial and indelible impact on manufacturing in Illinois. The inductees include Abraham Lincoln: The first and only U.S. President with a patent; Lincoln Logs; the cell phone; Cracker Jack; Caterpillar and the University of Illinois system.

* PJ Star | Here’s why it could be a bad summer for disease-spreading ticks in Illinois: Experts have suggested Illinois may be seeing more and earlier tick activity. “We’re seeing less severe winters, which might lead to more ticks,” Maureen Murray, assistant director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at Lincoln Park Zoo, recently told the Chicago Tribune. “Fewer ticks die during the winter, and ticks can be active sooner in the spring, just because it warms up faster.”

*** Chicago ***

* AP | Chicago police tweak mass arrests policy ahead of Democratic National Convention: Chicago police have received fresh de-escalation training, while about 3,000 officers are undergoing specialized training to “respond directly to civil unrest and the possibility of riots,” according to Snelling. Proposed changes to the way police deal with mass arrests, which are still being finalized, include more supervisor review onsite and debriefings afterward to see what worked and what didn’t.

* Tribune | Lawyers for ex-Ald. Ed Burke to make in-person pitch to toss corruption conviction: Six months after ex-Chicago Ald. Edward Burke’s landmark corruption conviction, his lawyers will be back in court Wednesday in a long-shot bid for a retrial on some counts and an outright acquittal on others. […] Burke is scheduled to be sentenced June 24. Before that, however, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall must deal with a motion by Burke’s attorneys to toss out the jury’s decision and acquit the former alderman on almost all counts.

* Sun-Times | Loop’s safety and hospitality ‘ambassadors’ program expands for summer: The advocacy group Chicago Loop Alliance is expanding its ambassadors safety and hospitality program starting this week to the central Loop — beyond its normal focus on State Street — for four months through the busy summer tourism and festival season and the Democratic National Convention in August. Unarmed paid ambassadors wearing yellow and black uniforms are trained in de-escalation tactics and help prevent violence, illegal activity and “unwanted behavior.”

* CBS Chicago | DCFS stops sending children to Chicago center after abuse allegations: The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said it stopped sending kids in its care to a center in Chicago earlier this year after two workers there were accused of abuse. The men accused worked at Aunt Martha’s, a temporary care center with a facility for foster children on South Michigan Avenue. CBS 2 learned one of the workers has been charged with sexual abuse and another was on the run.

* Tribune | Why are so many Chicago medical residents unionizing? Activity follows pandemic, shifting attitudes: Thousands of residents and fellows in the Chicago area have voted to unionize in the last year — at University of Chicago Medicine in May, Northwestern Medicine in January and West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park in November. University of Illinois at Chicago residents and fellows unionized in 2021. Residents have long had to work many hours for relatively low pay, as they train to become specific types of physicians after medical school. Traditionally, residents have been expected to put their heads down and grind, for years, as they gain on-the-job experience and progress toward more lucrative, prominent careers.

* Tribune | Kevin Warren presses ahead on Bears stadium pitch as Johnson, Pritzker stay quiet on the subject: The Chicago Bears’ bid for billions of dollars in public assistance to build a new lakefront stadium was the elephant on the agenda Tuesday at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting. With a crowd of high-powered business leaders watching, Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren repeated his pitch for the new domed stadium in a keynote address. He presented the stadium as a surefire growth starter for downtown Chicago.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Daily Southtown | Republican walk out prevents Will County vote on raises for elected officials: The Will County Board did not vote on pay raises for county elected officials Tuesday after Republicans left the board room in the middle of a special meeting, resulting in no quorum to conduct official business. Because votes were not taken, countywide elected officials and board members who are up for election in November will have their salaries unchanged for the next four years.

*** Downstate ***

* SJ-R | ‘This is ultimately to make everyone safer.’ Massage parlors will have to register with city: The ordinance, crafted after one adopted by the Village of Chatham several years ago, also mandates proof of State of Illinois licensure of the parlor’s massage therapists. “This is ultimately to make everyone safer: people who do massages, people who go in for massages and the neighborhoods where the massage establishments exist,” insisted Ald. Jennifer Notariano, who has a number of the parlors in her inner-city Ward 6.

* Pontiac Daiy Leader | Primary winner in state’s 53rd Senate District has eyes on November, ears on residents: Unless there’s a write-in candidate or the Democrats make an effort to get a name on the ballot, Chris Balkema of Channahon, winner of the Republican primary in March will be the next state senator to represent the Pontiac area in Springfield. Balkema won the primary with nearly 50% of the vote. His opponents were Jesse Faber of Pontiac, Mike Kirkton of rural Gridley and Susan Wynn Bence of Watseka.


  1. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 8:36 am:

    “Republican walk out prevents Will County vote on raises for elected officials”

    People keep trying to insist the county executive is a member of the Democratic party.

    Yet strangely, every time there is a close vote or some contentious issue needing a tie-breaking vote from the executive, the county executive takes a hands-off approach which just happens to favor the republican position.

  2. - James McIntyre Fan - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 8:38 am:

    Regarding CBS Chicago story and Aunt Martha’s…

    Its worth mentioning that former DCFS Director Marc Smith was in leadership at Aunt Martha’s just prior to becoming director of DCFS.

    When did the sex abuse at Aunt Martha’s begin?

    How many complaints were there regarding Aunt Martha’s during Smith’s tenure? When were they made? What was the outcome?

    The Public Guardian is going to be asking these questions.

  3. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 9:10 am:

    How big of a problem is abuse of the home schooling laws in IL? I’ve known a few homeschooling families. Very diverse, from the lady who took the kids to Europe for a summer and had a full lab in her basement to parents who just did worksheets and projects, but seems like mostly they did work at it.
    I’d hate to take the freedom away from someone who wants to take the kids to another country to develop fluency in a language or spend a season working on a veggie coop or other imaginative and educational things like this; in order to go after a small number of abusers.

  4. - The Joilet - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 9:26 am:

    Thank you Will County Republicans!

  5. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 9:47 am:

    @cermak_rd I think you are right that the homeschool population is very diverse. Some (for my district) are avoiding accountability, fully half are faith based, the remainder are a mixed bag of political/safety/anti-woke (which is a bit funny given we are a small rural district that does not jump on every trend), this is based on a survey of district home school families.

    Too many are avoiding accountability for attendance or discipline. I would put that at 25% very conservatively based on my career experience. That is not a had data number. I think that number is lower than it was 20 years ago when that was the overwhelming majority of kids pulled for homeschool (back then I was a high school admin).

    Some of the above is based on hard numbers from our survey.

  6. - Lagartha's Shield - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 10:19 am:

    In my twenty-five years of administration in a small, rural district, I have come across a small handful of families homeschooling their children with intention and doing it quite well. Far, far more often, I have seen parents pull their kids out of school to “homeschool” them rather than let them face discipline for something they did. These kids end up running the streets, their learning stops, and they often end up in court again and again with drug, theft, or assault charges. And then there were the kids taken out by abusive parents in order to control their children even more or hide the signs of abuse, parents we’d made DCFS calls on numerous times. Yet once the magic word “homeschool” was uttered, there was absolutely nothing we could do about it. I still wonder and worry about some who disappeared in spring 2020 and never came back.

  7. - Father Jones - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 10:30 am:

    @ cermak

    Speaking from experience as a former high school educator who saw many families pull their kids from the District for a variety of issues, the “taking kids to Europe” or “learning a third language” examples are far and away the counterexample. I would argue that the majority of “home schooling” is performative, with no real educational merit whatsoever.

  8. - Jerry - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 10:30 am:

    President Warren doesn’t get it. There will be no “welfare for the bears!” Even the big man in the sky isn’t interested.

    Maybe somebody on the chamber can lend the bears the money or serve as a reference at the bank for a loan.

  9. - Baloneymous - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 10:34 am:

    Regarding the SJ-R article on massage parlors in Springfield. I was waiting at the drive-thru at Little Saigon restaurant on Wabash last week and noticed that the cake store behind Famous Liquors is now a “spa” or massage place.

  10. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 10:52 am:

    ===Regarding CBS Chicago story===

    I checked with the reporter on the timeline.

  11. - Stix Hix - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 11:23 am:

    We have a school board member (appointed) who homeschools their kids. Bizarre if you ask me.

  12. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 12:40 pm:

    I do know my nephew was homeschooled. Both because of health problems (he had a congenital heart defect that killed him at 16–neat kid still hurts), and he was bullied at the private school because he was a lot smaller than all the other kids. Eventually he wound up kind of dual enrolled at a public county school (Iowa allows this) and also did homeschooling during times he simply didn’t have the strength to get to school or was in the hospital.
    His Mom used a canned curriculum, maybe Seton?

  13. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 12:59 pm:

    “These kids end up running the streets, their learning stops, and they often end up in court again and again with drug, theft, or assault charges”

    I regularly work with over a dozen Home School families- they are very involved in their kid’s education.

  14. - Suburban Mom - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 12:59 pm:

    I’m in the autism community, so I’ve seen several cases where a child begins school, struggles, school officials attempt to have the child assessed, the parents react angrily and remove their child. Then the parents homeschool, and sometimes they do a pretty good educational job and sometimes a miserably bad one, but what happens in that situation is, kids with ASD go undiagnosed until they are 14 or 15, puberty hormones send behavior off the rails a bit, kids get big, and parents finally seek medical support.

    At which point the child and family have missed out on a decade of support, interventions, and therapies, and that has lifelong consequences for the child. Whereas if there was any oversight of the homeschooling, there would have been many more opportunities for connecting the family with the right resources.

    I watched a family pull a toddler out of preschool and then kindergarten when both suggested he get assessed, homeschool until the kid was 15, and they changed pediatricians five times — every time a pediatrician told them “we really need to assess your kid for developmental delays, this is concerning.” They are now absolutely furious that the state and schools and medical establishment “ignored” their child’s needs for 15 years when in fact they were actively removing him whenever anyone noticed those needs, and now he’s really far behind academically.

  15. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 2:36 pm:

    =Eventually he wound up kind of dual enrolled at a public county school (Iowa allows this) and also did homeschooling during times he simply didn’t have the strength to get to school or was in the hospital.=

    It is allowed in Illinois too. We have several that attend for specific classes but homeschool the rest of the time.

    =I regularly work with over a dozen Home School families- they are very involved in their kid’s education.=

    So, there are more than 500,000 school aged kids in Illinois.

  16. - Proud Papa Bear - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 4:27 pm:

    In college, I had several friends who had been homeschooled on religious grounds. They were very intelligent and had, I believe, a good education from a church cooperative type of system. The only drawback is that they seemed somewhat closed-minded from the lack of diversity of ideas they experienced but they met that in college.
    As a high school special education teacher, the few times I see students withdraw to homeschool are because the student is chronically truant and the parent just can’t get their kid to go to school.
    I’ve seen more kids come into our school after having been homeschooled. Some come back for a more credible diploma, some for special services, some for socialization, and some because the content is beyond what their parents can help them with.

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