News & Commentary posted previous news coverage here.
Virginia’s Homeschooling Families Tire of Waiting
Amy Wilson, Director of Government Affairs for The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, expressed the view of supporters of Virginia’s “Tebow” bills: “Homeschoolers in Virginia would like to have what homeschoolers in 29 other states have: access to quality competitive athletics at their local public high school. Students who were homeschooled high school students when this issue first arose in Virginia are now old enough to be parents themselves! Homeschool sports access is already working, using a variety of legislative and policy-based models, all over the country. No state that has enacted an access law or policy has ever rescinded it – in New Mexico, access has actually been further expanded over time. Access can work in Virginia, too.”
Readers of my personal blog, At Each Turn, will remember how disappointed I was that so much media coverage had incorrect information about the homeschool sports access bill. Over and over again, we read articles that simply misstated facts, including misstating what the bill, if passed, could or would do. The media frequently made it seem as if hundreds of homeschoolers would expect to be placed on school athletic teams around the state, without regard to their academic standing, their athletic ability, their self-discipline, their place of residence, or the desires of their local school board. In fact, the bill would have allowed homeschoolers who have met the state’s academic requirements for homeschoolers for two previous years try out for teams in their school assignment area only in school divisions who made local decisions to allow them to do so.
The same problems seem to be occurring this year. Director of Government Affairs for The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, Amy Wilson, was kind enough to discuss the bills with me via email. From my angle, I lamented current Illinois legislature is not particularly homeschool friendly, with some local authorities using public school participation opportunities as a prospect for Illinois homeschool registration. The difference seems to be Virginia is a notification state, while Illinois homeschoolers are not mandated to notify or register with school authorities. Each state has to ‘play’ with what they have. Right now, I’ll settle on the gratification Illinois doesn’t notify or register.
Amy explained the networking skills and hard work effectively used by her group:
The right legislative environment is key – as it always is. It’s helpful to lay the groundwork ahead of time in order to be most effective at the local level. VaHomeschoolers proactively communicates on a regular basis with Virginia public school superintendents, the state Department of Education, and statewide public school professional associations to establish a working relationship with these groups. We’ve been able to work effectively with local school divisions when problems arise (with no attorneys involved on our part), and we have also provided homeschooling families with information and support so they can approach their local school boards when they wish to seek a policy change.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers offers an annual survey to their members, tabulates the results and acts on them. The membership wants these bills to pass.