February 09, 2012

States Passing 'Tim Tebow' Bills for Home-Schooled Athletes: Twenty-five states have passed bills allowing home-schooled students to play sports at public schools, a movement sparked by an obscure Denver Broncos quarterback who played for Nease High School near Jacksonville, Fl., despite never stepping foot in the place as a student. A bill before Virginia's legislature is hotly debated. "I support choice, but if you've chosen that, you can't use public schools as an a la carte system," said William Bosher, a former state superintendent of schools. "It's football today. Tomorrow it's a National Academy of Sciences project. The next day it's homecoming queen. Where does it begin and end?"

posted by rcade to general at 07:01 PM - 15 comments

Assuming that the student pays some sort of fee to play (like the rest of the students usually do), I don't see any problem with this.

posted by TheQatarian at 07:14 PM on February 09

So would home-skooled kids be restricted to the school in their own districts, or could they shop around?

posted by TouchMyMonkey at 07:14 PM on February 09

The home school students parents already pay taxes, presumably, that support the public schools, so the money isn't necessarily the issue.

I can't put my finger on it, but what makes me uneasy about this is the specter of recruiting. I am sure there are ways to avoid it, but it just doesn't sit right with me.

posted by Joey Michaels at 07:42 PM on February 09

The home school students parents already pay taxes, presumably, that support the public schools ...

Public schools are allocated funds based on the number of students. Property taxes do support schools as a whole, at least in Florida.

Tebow had to live in Nease's district to play for that school. I think his family moved into the district with the intent of him playing there.

posted by rcade at 07:46 PM on February 09

While property taxes usually support the district you live, additional funding from states is often based on number of students enrolled.

posted by apoch at 10:00 PM on February 09

They discussed this issue on today's Kojo Nnamdi Show. In regard to this argument:

To maintain varsity eligibility, for instance, Virginia's public school students must take five courses in the current semester and must have passed five in the previous semester. Home-schooled students do not have to adhere to that standard.

Dave Zirin clarified that these requirements are literally just to be enrolled in the classes and to have passed (D or better) the classes the last semester--not exactly a high hurdle to clear. Furthermore, there are some loopholes that basically make it possible to get around any academic issues you may be facing.

As far as the funding/taxes argument is concerned, is anyone really arguing that parents of home-schooled students who want to play public school sports (and would pay the same fees as any other students) would be getting more than their tax money's worth?

posted by bender at 11:11 PM on February 09

What if a coach -- of any sport -- chose a public school kid for the roster spot because the public school kid was better at the position. And the home-schooled kid was then cut.

Is the coach then opening himself, or his school, or both, up to a lawsuit? Can the parents of the home-schooled kid sue to have their kid placed on the public school team?

posted by roberts at 06:47 AM on February 10

I can't put my finger on it, but what makes me uneasy about this is the specter of recruiting. I am sure there are ways to avoid it, but it just doesn't sit right with me.

If your varsity athlete, star player is facing a failing semester, the parents withdraw the student to "homeschool" and then magically the student maintains eligibility. In VA at least, there is no unavoidable testing requirement. It's enough to submit an evaluation from some qualified person that the child is making academic progress.

posted by bperk at 09:59 AM on February 10

Assuming that the student pays some sort of fee to play (like the rest of the students usually do), I don't see any problem with this.

I do, but then, I have a problem in general with people who want to pick and choose their government services cafeteria-style.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:49 PM on February 10

It might be one thing if a taxpaying but homeschooling family would try to pull a stunt where they try to say "we pay school levy taxes, and since we don't use the schools, we want to receive some other public service in exchange". But, in these cases, although it still feels hinky to me, they're actually just utilizing something that would otherwise be at their disposal.

On the other hand, this potential slippery-slope just popped into my mind ... What if a taxpaying family who had consciously decided to bypass the public school system in favor of a parochial school, but upon realizing that the local high school would provide greater exposure for their child, they want to have him/her still receive their education from the parochial but play sports for the public school team? I don't think that would fly at all. (It's admittedly on-the-fly thought and may easily be debunked.)

posted by littleLebowski at 01:44 PM on February 10

littlelebowski, how is that effectively any different from parents who want to keep their kids out of school for religious reasons, i.e., who want to indoctrinate them in their own religion and avoid as much exposure to competing views as possible?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:56 PM on February 10

What difference does it make if that is the case?

posted by bender at 03:21 PM on February 10

I'm sure each state has addressed this differently, but in response to two scenarios brought up here, the article mentions this about the Virginia bill specifically:

"To discourage recruiting, the legislation would require that home-schooled athletes live in their public school districts, Mr. Bell said. They also must have been home-schooled for at least two years to gain eligibility."

True, this wouldn't stop a family from moving to get their child into the sports program of a better school. But nothing stops that from happening for families with children that are not home schooled.

As to the parochial school scenario, I went to a parochial grade school and was a member of the public school marching band. That is a part of the relationship parochial schools frequently have with their local districts. And now, working in the public school system, one of the things we do is work with the in-district parochial schools to determine joint needs. For special needs students this is a federally mandated directive. While not a directive for other services, the contacts are in place to make this an easy opportunity.

posted by opel70 at 03:29 PM on February 10

I'm not following your question ... the intent for bypassing of the public school system seems immaterial. I think the question is simply, if you choose to not participate in the applicable public school's academics, do you have the right to its other "activities"? If you're point is that "what difference does it make whether we're talking home-schooled or parochial, I'll give you that. I don't know that there was a sound difference between parochial and homeschooling; it was just a mental exercise. On the other hand ... Interesting callout, opel70. I wasn't aware of those kinds of arrangements. So, that seems to further support a home-schooled student to be able to have access to the public school's athletics (or band, theater, or other programs). My point was simply that it "felt like" crossing the line to go to a "competing, formal" educational environment and then cherry-pick the public school system. And, based on your comments, at least in part, I'm hearing less-and-less solid justification to exclude home-schooled kids from public school activities.

I'm not seeing this as "a la carte government services". Maybe an analogy, is ... my tax dollars go in part to community infrastructure, including roadways and public transportation. If I choose to not use the city bus system (aka, public schools) and decide to use my own car (homeschooling), does that mean I'm not allowed to drive on city streets or use city bike paths (public school athletics)?

posted by littleLebowski at 04:41 PM on February 10

Being able to suit up and compete without having to set foot in a classroom is just one more bad habit that the athletes will have to break when they get to a major collegiate program.

posted by beaverboard at 06:34 PM on February 10

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