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Speak Out: Should Home-Schooled Students Play on Public School Teams?

Senate Committee Kills ‘Tebow Bill’ on Thursday night, but some Patch readers think proposal should be voted into law.

Virginia's Senate Education and Health Committee shot down a bill Thursday that would have allowed home-schooled students to participate in public schools’ sports teams.

Committee members killed House Bill 1442 — also known as the “Tebow bill"  — on a 7-8 vote, shelving it for the remainder of this legislative session.

But should the bill have reached the full Senate floor?

Fairfax County School Board member Ryan McElveen highlighted the defeat of the bill as one of the three most important actions residents could advocate for this session as Richmond pressed on with what he called an "educational extremism."

The school board voted to advocate against the proposal, McElveen wrote,  "because, in short, the bill would be unfair to current FCPS students who must comply with academic standards in order to participate."

"While the Tebow bill would require home-schooled students to meet academic benchmarks for two years before joining a team, those standards are not clear. As some have argued, public schools aren’t “a la carte”—students and their families have the choice to participate in the public school system and all of the activities it provides."

Some commenters agreed, saying "school teams should be just that - composed of students at that school."

Another commenter said residents pay taxes to schools whether their children are enrolled in the public school system or not, so "public schools should always be forced to allow non-public school children to try out for sports teams."

Others pointed out blocking the bill as a whole is stopping jurisdictions beyond Fairfax from making their own decision.

"Some school boards want to say "yes" and by opposing it, you're blocking their right to choose what to do in their community," Catherine Myers wrote.

Tell us: Should the "Tebow" policy be passed in Fairfax? In Virginia? Share your thoughts in the comments.

CMC February 19, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Chuck, the Virginia Dept. of Education has pointed out a serious gap (see the Washington Post's article on this here http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/thousands-of-virginia-students-arent-required-to-get-an-education/2012/09/10/144fb9f0-fb54-11e1-b153-218509a954e1_story.html). More and more families that home-school are taking the added step to assume full control of their children's education, which exempts them from reporting. According to the state, there's been an increase of more than 50% of these types of arrangements in the past decade.
Pete March 13, 2013 at 10:31 PM
The argument that because they pay taxes home schooled kids should be allowed to play on public school team. If that is the case why should kids who attend private schools not also be allowed to play on public school teams? As many others have stated if you want to be on a public school team you should attend the school. If you choose to be home schooled or attend public school you choose to give up that opportunity.
Mel R. March 24, 2013 at 02:05 AM
So then where does it all end? Show up and play a sport this year. Then next year some parents will clamor for their kids to be allowed into the public high school's AP chemistry class because the parents can't teach that to the kids and "they need it to get into college." Then parents will say, "Let my child into the public high school drama class because she wants to apply to colleges for drama school." And eventually it will all snowball until home-schooling parents are cherry-picking not just the sports they want for their kids but the academic classes, extracurriculars and other things that they can't teach their kids themselves or via a homeschooling network, or they'll insist their kids be allowed into classes that improve the kids' abiltiy to get into certain colleges. The "Tebow bill' is about football, really, but it is the thin end of the wedge and would open the door to these parents pressing for their kids to pick and choose what they like from public schools. School is not a menu from which they can order what they like. If the Tebow bill ever passes it's going to create a mess for academics, not just sports, down the road. And don't argue, "But that's not happening in other states that do it already." Just wait.
Gleb Taran March 24, 2013 at 06:00 AM
You are wrong. It ends when all students (public and private schooled) are allowed full access to all services at public schools paid for with the taxes of all citizens. This is the new leading edge of civil rights! Stop treating the home schooled kids like they belong at the back of the bus. Just because they opt out of full-time attendance at the local public school system does not mean they opt out of society. Being home schooled does not mean you opt out of all public school system services. Their parents pay for the "three-ring circus" we call public schools. They are entitled to cherry pick and choose (academics, clubs, sports) those services they want for their kids. Get used to it! Private schools will likewise recruit (i.e. cherry pick) public school athletes for skill positions getting short-shrift on their respective public school teams. Get used to that too! VHSL, whether they like it or not, will get used to it too! The VHSL monopoly will end! Its not a mess. Its life in the modern world! The old paradigm is kaput!
Gleb Taran March 24, 2013 at 06:15 AM
It is about tolerance! It is about multi-culturalism! It is about diversity! It is about accepting those different than you! You cannot discard those students who are being home schooled like they are second class citizens. When their parents pay for it, they are entitled to it however they see fit! They can choose to use it all. They can choose to use not of it. They can pick and choose whatever elements theyt want for their kids. That is the American way. When did we forget about that!

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