Home schooling is the most dynamic and innovative segment of K-12 education. But even with technological advances, co-ops and hybrid schooling, taking on that level of individual responsibility for a child’s education is difficult.
One particularly difficult problem for home school families in Virginia and elsewhere is competitive sports, particularly in high school.
A private non-profit organization, the Virginia High School League, governs high school sports for public schools in Virginia and determines eligibility for participation. Home-school and private-school parents pay taxes for the public schools, but their kids are banned from participating in local high school sports run through the government schools.
For private school kids, that’s not typically a major problem; they have enough students to field teams and schools for their own league. But home-schoolers, especially in rural areas, don’t have those numbers. And that means they are out of luck.
There’s a bill being heard today (HB 947) that would prohibit public schools from joining an association with a blanket ban on home school student participation, and let each school district decide whether to allow them to try out for a team.
The Virginia PTA seems horrified that the home-school rabble might be included, proclaiming that “participation on athletic teams is a privilege that should be reserved for the public school students.” They have told members to call their representatives to say, “public school is your choice and team sports are a privilege you earned and expect them to protect.” Funny, I thought government school were supposed to be open to everyone … we certainly all pay a lot of money for them.
It’s always messy when the government runs things they shouldn’t – there is never a perfect solution – but it does seem odd and unfair for a private organization to ban a segment of Virginia’s children from joining a team in the local public school their parents support with their taxes.
Team sports shouldn’t be run through government schools in the first place, but if they are, they shouldn’t exclude children because their parents have taken full responsibility for their child’s education and shouldered its full cost.