NPR ran an All Things Considered piece – Home-Schooled Students Fight To Play On Public School Teams
by Steve Walsh
Now, a story about home-schooled students and sports. Across the country, legislatures have debated whether homeschoolers should be allowed to play on public school teams. Indiana attempted to find the middle ground with a recent rule change. But as Steve Walsh reports from Lakeshore Public Radio, the change may be raising more questions than it answers.
15 year old Noel Keeble hopes to play soccer professionally and feels he loses his edge not having the same opportunities to participate in public school soccer. His mother notes a recent local referendum increase benefitting the school district, taking money from her pocket and she hopes her son can gain access to the publicly funded gym, weight room and the soccer field. The local principal apparently wants standardized oversight for all participating kids.
“It is difficult to justify allowing a true home-school student to participate in our activities when they don’t necessarily have the same oversight exercised for our current full-time enrolled students,” says Lake Central Principal Robin Tobias.
Just thinking outside the classroom box, I should note that different oversight doesn’t mean the education is inferior. Inferior education should be the concern. If I’m not mistaken.
Rather than legislating the issue, the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) is making policy changes to allow homeschool participation. Illinois’ IHSA made the same sort of policy allowance for non-public school students, with the local school district determining how the participant is allowed academic credit. That’s been sketchy in a few Illinois school districts when home school registration is required, which has nothing to do with extra-curricular public school participation. It appears, from the policies I’ve seen, only homeschoolers are allowed to participate, not other private school students.
It’s typical, but still befuddling, there are all these middle-men such as IHSAA in the midst of public school extra-curriculars. From the NPR piece:
WALSH: Bobby Cox heads the Indiana High School Athletic Association. In May, the group changed its rules to make home-school students eligible to play, but they left it up to local schools to decide whether to allow these students on their teams. Cox supported the compromise after lawmakers failed to pass a law in 2011 requiring all schools to allow home-schooled students. At the time, Cox lobbied against the bill, arguing it didn’t guarantee that home-schooled students meet the same academic standards as those in public school.
COX: There is a significant portion of our membership that would say that when a home-school child decides to be home-schooled, they make a choice, but you forego other opportunities. On the other side of that ledger, we have those that are in agreement that says, well, a parent should always have the right to educate their child however they want to. However, they ought to be able to pick and choose whatever opportunities that are available from whatever institution or whatever agency.
With influential groups such as the National Federation of State High School Associations, along with their affiliates’ lobbying power, it’s hard to go against the traditional concept athletes put up-shut up and go to school in order to do what you really enjoy. Certainly, sports and other extra-curriculars are the attraction for a public school schedule. NPR does note the often forgotten notion – kids are at the heart of the debate.