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Feb 28

Home School / High School Athletics Divide Continues

The homeschool athlete participation bill (HB947) lingers in the Virginia General Assembly and the issue continues to garner attention. In a recent article in the February 27 Virginian-Pilot www.Pilotonline.com, the debate continues in “Tebow Mania Makes Bad Law.”  In the commentary, the previous points which identify this piece of legislation as unacceptable are continued:

1. Tebow did not play for his “hometown” team. He and his mother moved to a neighboring county to allow him to participate in a high school football program that had specialized skill development.

2. Home school parents do pay taxes for their children and the children should have, as these parents contend, all the rights and privileges of the students enrolled and attending their local public schools. However, just paying taxes is not a guarantee even for school based students that they will have the skills for team participation.  Should homeschoolers have the opportunity then?  “Participation in school sports is predicated on involvement in the school community; parents surrender their child’s rights to participate when they chose not to enroll.”

3.  Homeschoolers attendance is without verification and there is no minimum course load for them.

4.  The last two questions in the op ed piece in general put the final touch from this article on the issue:

A. Should a teen who hasn’t satisfied the same requirements, whose parents freely chose not to become part pf the school community have a right to represent the school in a sporting event?  NO

B.  Is it fair to the student athlete enrolled at the school who satisfy those requirements, but is bumped from the team by a non-student?  NO

During a recent visit to high school classes with seniors and juniors , my thoughts led to this particular piece of legislation. I was reviewing in classes the process for legislation develpoment and voting in Virginia’s General Assembly. Knowing that the implications of HB947 would resonate with them, I opened the discussion by explaining the intent of this bill. The students developed similar responses already mentioned above regarding the apparent unfairness of the implementation of the bill and the majority were opposed to it. It was interesting and refereshing however to hear two students in two separate classes comment that one aspect of having homeschool students participate in interscholastic sports was that it would give them (the high school students) the opportunity to make new friends.  That is one of the reasons that we do what we do…..listen to your students.  Sometimes they have answers that make you pause and reflect and say “You’re right!”