Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Homeschoolers and Sports

Homeschoolers are going to get a chance to play public school sports or clubs in Pennsylvania without the requirement of taking the standardized tests. The schools initiated the requirement because the public school students are required to take the mandatory tests in order to play. HSLDA fought the requirement and pointed out that this would create separate eligibility requirements for homeschoolers which Pennsylvania law forbids. The school district dropped the requirement in the face of legal oppostion. Quoting from the article,
A state law, which went into effect Jan. 1, mandates that districts allow homeschoolers to join athletic teams, musical ensembles, theatrical productions and other programs, provided they ''meet eligibility criteria or their equivalent'' by passing tryouts, medical tests and other nonacademic requirements set by the local district
I have two boys who are very interested in basketball. They would love to play on a team. We are also involved in concert band and orchestra. Those interests cost our famly (and our children) an extra expense that we would not pay if they were in our local public school. But because of other over riding factors we haven't given much thought to enrolling them in the extra curriculars only.

That said, I can see both sides having valid points and the draw for some homeschooling families. This is actually in many ways a money issue for both sides.

Parents can't afford the quality of equipment and coaching that is required to field a high caliber team. Nor is there usually the same level of athletic competition. They pay tax dollars and they feel they should be able to benefit in these area. However, if the school district allows children to participate in sports who are homeschooled they will lose students not gain them. Many parents tolerate the education for the extra curricular opportunities. Sad but true. I think the ones that feel dissatisfied with the education will pull their children out and still let them participate in sports or other clubs. I know many former homeschoolers who fit into this category who have put their children in public schools for the extras and then supplement with curriculum on their own. They would love to eliminate the time waste of having them in the schools.If they can have them both many will take advantage. Thus, the schools lose enrollment which is a loss of dollars.

Tracking is also a concern for both sides. Public schools have academics standards that they would want to verify and many homeschoolers see that as an infringement on their privacy and right to educate. But I understand the public schools need to have verfiable academic standards for the team as well.

Right now, the public schools hold all the cards because they hold the money. If homeschoolers didn't have to pay taxes to a system we don't use then possibly the funds would be available to do sports, etc. But that is a utopian ideal that will probably never be seen in my lifetime.

But is an ala carte system possible where you pay if you play be possible? That way all sports is optional and out of the budget and if a school or community wants to field a team they do so without the assistance of tax money.

I would love feedback on this. Any thoughts? Does anyone have children in a public school activity but homeschool otherwise? How does it work out for your family? Would you consider enrolling your children in just for extra curricular activites if it were available?

Related Blogs: Gena shares her thoughts as well.

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