Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Posts Tagged ‘homeschool

Homeschool parents deservedly lose battle to get kids on public school teams

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This piece in the Joliet Herald News makes it sound like the Minooka (Ill.) school board members on the majority side of a recent 5-2 vote in favor of excluding homeschooled kids from sports made a decision tantamount to throwing those kids in the educational garbage can. To the contrary. The homeschooling parents already made their statement about public schools by not enrolling their children in them, so I don’t think they get the right to cherrypick when suddenly they decide the evil government school has something they want.

Before I get to that, a word from Chris Balkema, one of the board members who voted for allowing homeschoolers to play:

“Right now with students and parents who are paying our bills, the current policy discriminates against students who learn at home.”

This is laughable. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. For if Balkema had even the slightest understanding of his state’s laws on homeschooling, and on the state high school athletic association’s rules on homeschoolers, he would have punted this dumb suggestion out the door, too. (Of course, asking a school board member to be educated and even-handed is usually a lot to ask.)

Illinois, actually, is a very friendly state to homeschoolers. A 1950 court decision allowed for homeschooling, treating those children as if they were enrolled in their own little private school. Today, Illinois is one of 10 states that does not require homeschooling parents to alert their public school district that they are teaching their kids at home. A 1974 federal court ruling said that parents in the state have to file some sort of progress report with the district, but no one ever enforces that. So Illinois parents have carte blanche to teach their kids at home without the government poking its nose inside the kitchen, or the dining room, or wherever the home classroom is.

In exchange for being left out of the claws of the local government-run school district, however, home-schooled students can’t participate in it. You might say, but they pay taxes to the district! True. But state funding of the schools is determined by actual attendance. So the homeschooling parents would end up getting services on state taxpayers’ dime. The only services Illinois law mandates are given to private as well as public school students are drivers’ education, and a limited amount of special education. That’s it. But that’s the price you pay for getting to teach your child exactly the way you want, when you want. The Illinois State Board of Education says that districts are under no obligation to provide anything else. They can, but they don’t have to.

Plus, the Illinois High School Association has clear rules on whether private school kids — and, remember, that’s what homeschoolers are — can play for a public school. The rules are, they can’t. If the testimony of Theon Hill at that Minooka board hearing is to be believed, his playing sports at Romeoville High School while still a homeschooler would have been a violation of this IHSA rule:

A student must attend a member school and may only represent in interscholastic competition the member school the student attends. For purposes of this by-law, the term “attend” shall mean that the student is enrolled at the member school,
and is taking at, or under arrangements approved by the member school, a minimum of twenty (20) credit hours of work
for which credit toward high school graduation will be granted by the member school upon the student’s completing and
passing the courses. The school which enrolls the student shall be exclusively responsible to verify the student’s compliance
with all of the eligibility requirements of all IHSA by-laws.

I know that many states have passed so-called “Tim Tebow laws,” allowing homeschool athletes to play school sports. Florida passed the first such law in 1996, though not because of Tebow, who wouldn’t bless high school fields with his presence for about another half-decade. However, Tebow is usually cited as Reason No. 1 for creating such a law, as if every homeschooler was a future Heisman Trophy winner.

Tim Tebow sez: “Hey, homeschool kids! You’re not going to not have sex with someone like this if you can’t play school sports!”

Even if a state doesn’t pass a Tim Tebow law, in some cases courts have allowed homeschoolers to play. One might say, activist courts, if they didn’t have the support of right-wing, Christian organizations such as the Home School Legal Defense Association. That makes those judges honest, common-sense kinds of people.

The Home School Legal Defense Association itself shows how homeschooling organizations — still overwhelming evangelical Christian, even as homeschooling has spread beyond its population (insufferable liberals instead call it “unschooling” to separate themselves from the conservative rabble) — try to play both sides of the high school football field chain-link fence.

After a West Virginia lawsuit the HSLDA supported successfully overturned the state’s rule preventing homeschoolers from playing public school sports, the victorious attorney declared that the “homeschooled are part of the public education system.” The HSLDA said, um, no, they’re not: “HSLDA disagrees with this statement. Homeschooled children are privately educated and have only minor contact with the public school system.”

Yes — only the contact that homeschool families choose to have, the kind that makes up for what homeschoolers lack, without exposing them too much to bad things like cooties, street gangs, and Catholics.

Look, homeschool parents: you’re either all-in, or you’re out. It doesn’t hurt to ask a public school if little Mordecai can play, but if it says no, don’t walk out in a huff and act like you’ve been denied your inalienable rights. Plenty of other parents across the country have set up networks of homeschool athletic leagues, bands, choirs, you name it. Don’t have one in your area? Here are some resources for starting one.

[youtubevid id=”1MD7JgRFZ1A”]

An example of a homeschool league. Also, an example of possible trademark infringement that might draw a letter from the NCAA.

Failing that, your local parks departments or independent sports leagues have teams that are open to anyone with only one qualification: the check clears. There are club teams you find as well. In fact, you’re better off with them if you think little Esther Homeschooler has a shot at a college scholarship, because most coaches scout elite leagues; they don’t even bother to look at school sports anymore.

For those Minooka, Ill., parents all upset that their kids aren’t going to be future Indians, if it means that much to you, put your kids in public schools. And trust that your influence doesn’t disappear the moment your child is out of your sight, and that you can still educate your child even when others are doing some of that work for you.

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Tim Tebow has not been kidnapped and murdered…

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…nor has he ever inspired Nancy Grace to harangue one of her guests.

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However, like a cute, doomed little girl, Tebow is getting his name attached to state legislation. “The Tim Tebow Bill” is shorthand for measures that would allow home-schooled children to participate in their public school’s extracurricular activities — such as Tebow was allowed to do in Nease, Fla., before he became a Heisman Trophy-, championship-winning quarterback. Here is one example of usage from the Bowling Green (Ky.) Daily News:

A house bill would allow home-schooled students to participate in public school sports, music events and other extracurricular activities.

And while 24 other states have adopted similar bills and more are considering the legislation, local school authorities said they still have a lot of questions about the “Tim Tebow Bill,” HB 179, that need answers.

According to the bill proposed by Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, home-schooled students would not be “discriminated against” from participating in interscholastic extracurricular activities after guidelines are determined for student enrollment and a waiting period is specified for when a student transfers from a public school to a home school.

Montell said in a news release that the bill was inspired by Tim Tebow, a Florida football quarterback who went on to become the first sophomore to win the Heisman trophy at the University of Florida after a similar law allowed the home-schooled student to participate in public high school athletics.

“While most everyone knows who Tim Tebow is and of his many accomplishments in football at the University of Florida, they do not know that Tim Tebow never attended public school for academics because he was home schooled,” Montell said. “But thanks to a Florida law that allows home-schooled students to compete in high school sporting events, Tebow was able to excel in a sport … shouldn’t we provide our home-schooled children that same opportunity?”

tim-tebow-girl

The bill also promises home-schoolers the right and opportunity to grow or motorboat extremely large breasts.

The Home School Legal Defense Association, which does not seem Creepy Christian in the least, says Kentucky is one of nine states trying to pass Tebow bills (the use of the name is especially popular in states featuring teams Tebow beats the crap out of). Alabama’s backers, which have been trying for three years, already have registered timtebowbill.com, although with how things usually go in college sports, it should only be a matter of time before someone puts up a site called firetimtebowbill.com.

Twenty-four states already have such laws, including Tebow’s native Florida, which was a pioneer of these laws with the original, the Craig Dickinson Act of 1996. (The late Dickinson was a father who home-schooled his children.)

I’ll say first that I have known the pain and discrimination of having my children barred from participating in a school’s athletic program just because I chose not to send them there. After pulling my kids out of Catholic school, but keeping them in CCD, I was told my sons would be allowed to play football — but that no other kids could play no other sports, even though other area Catholic schools allowed their CCD kids to do the same. Perhaps I should sue, or get the Illinois legislature to pass a Bob Cook Act!

Or I could do what I did, and what so many homeschool parents are loathe to do — realize that when you pull your child out of a school, you no longer have a god-given right to cherry-pick activities for them from that school. Of course, I was dealing with a private school. But I’m amazed that home-schooling parents would find the local public schools too evil or just not good enough for everyday use, yet go running to them when they realize they can’t replicate a cheerleading program at home.

Homeschool parents’ argument is that they should be able to use the school because their tax money goes there. True, except that by not sending their child there, they are depriving schools state and other funding based on enrollment and daily attendance. Also, there is a question of whether home-schoolers are included in schools’ after-school activity insurance policies. Anyway, if their kids are on their way to being the Tebow of their activity, the parents might be better off paying for camps and private, elite programs, the kind college coaches watch more closely than high school games.

If the home-schoolers are going to be allowed in — and take the place of someone who goes to that school every day — they should meet strict academic requirements (which many Tebow laws dictate), and they should have to pay not only any fees charged to other kids (also a part of many of these laws), but some sort of premium to make up for the tax money not collected on their behalf and any premium for extra insurance the school requires.  Otherwise, start a homeschooler football team.

2295217857_459422e848_mOr a homeschooler band. From Flickr, a scene from a concert put on by the Minnesota Homeschool Chamber Orchestra.