Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Posts Tagged ‘Illinois High School Association

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.

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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.

Bass fishing: the next hot high school sport

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Forget all the hype about all the schools adding lacrosse. If you want to go where the action is, hit the crik, er, creek.

In Illinois another 27 high schools are adding varsity bass-fishing teams, joining the 199 that participated in the inaugural year of the Illinois High School Association’s endorsement of competitive angling. From the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat:

Dave Gannaway, an assistant executive director with the IHSA, said two sectionals sites will probably be added to the existing 18 to accommodate the extra schools.

“I’m plotting them on the map now to see kind of where we need to add,” Gannaway said. “It looks like we’re going to have to add one down south and it looks like we’re going to have to add one up in the (Chicago) area. That’s where the two major growths were.

“A lot of schools in Southern Illinois kind of took a wait-and-see attitude. They saw it turned out to be pretty good and jumped in, which is great.”

Sure, this sounds great now.

But soon enough, there will be bass-fishing club teams, traveling six-and-under bass-fishing teams, and rotator cuff injuries caused by too much casting, and there will be a backlash where worried parents make sure everyone gets a fish. And then we’ll fret that parents have ruined bass fishing, and we’ll pine for the days when kids just got together to head to the crik, er, creek just for the pure joy of it all.

Written by rkcookjr

January 17, 2010 at 4:13 am

Illinois's basketball uniform police step off the beat

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3925905340_753a0e916cThe Illinois High School Association’s basketball fashion police, led by assistant executive director Kurt Gibson (not pictured at right), is suddenly backing off after an early-season crackdown on wide stripes, long shorts and other sartorial crimes.

The question is not why the IHSA is taking a break from measuring inseams, but why did it bother to be so hard-assed about it? The answer comes from the end of last season.

In the Class 3A semifinal game between Champaign Centennial and Chicago North Lawndale College Prep, Gibson, saying he had warned North Lawndale for two years, decided enough was enough, and ordered the referees to assess a pregame technical foul because North Lawndale’s top had an under-armpit stripe that was too wide. Champaign Centennial hit the free throw, and went on to win by — I think you can see where we’re going here — one point. (And then Champaign Centennial won the title game over Oswego, which had redone its uniforms earlier in the season because they were illegal.)

Gibson’s crackdown was controversial, mainly because of when it was enforced. North Lawndale coach Lewis Thorpe said no one had ever warned him about the uniforms. Plus, because of the pregame technical, he was forced to sit the whole game — and the third-place game, which North Lawndale won despite again being down 1-0 before the game started.

In response, the IHSA decided to get even a bigger stick up its butt about the uniform rules. All over Illinois, teams were watching pregame technical foul free throws and seeing their coaches chained to the bench because they (and their vendors) violated the uniform rules, which actually come from the National Federation of High Schools, which has rules to protect what it calls the “sanctity of the number.” Not that NFHS is a strange, numeral-worshiping cult, but that the referees can easily see and signal a number.

The Pantagraph in Bloomington, Ill., noted how intense the scrutiny was coming from the IHSA and its crews of Tim Gunns.

The rule was vigorously enforced during the recent State Farm Holiday Classic where the Normal West, University High, Chicago Hope and Champaign St. Thomas More girls teams were ruled to have illegal uniforms.

A technical foul was assessed against the coaches, who then could not stand the rest of the game. Their foes shot two free throws and got the first possession.

“We had never had uniforms questioned before that I can remember,” said U High athletic director Wendy Smith, who later took the “illegal” uniform to the IHSA office in Bloomington, where it was ruled to actually be legal.


So, with athletic directors and coaches all over the state wondering if they were going to have to play shirts-and-skins because of uniforms that may or may not be illegal, the IHSA decided to call off Jean Valjean. Especially with schools not exactly having money to throw around for new uniforms. From the Pantagraph:

The IHSA responded [Jan. 13] to a growing outcry from athletic directors and coaches concerned about a financial hit of nearly $4,500 to replace uniforms or have their teams penalized a technical foul to start the game.

“We have no intention of requiring schools to expend additional dollars now, or in the future, to replace illegal uniforms,” IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said. “We fully realize there are many more pressing financial needs in our schools than basketball uniforms.”

Schools with illegal uniforms … need only apply for a waiver, and they can use their uniforms for the rest of the season, including the state series, without penalty, the IHSA said.

They can also continue to use the uniforms by receiving a waiver on an annual basis until the normal replacement time for their uniforms.

Schools with illegal uniforms that fail to apply for a waiver will continue to have a technical foul given to their coach prior to the start of the game.

Well, that’s nice to hear. However, the schools might need to spend a few bucks on a tailor, just to be on the safe side.