A Case Against Home School Athletes

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If you’re ineligible to walk across the stage in your cap and gown, then you should be ineligible to walk on the field with your cap and glove.

I’m not certain that I agree with this argument, but it is worth considering.

There’s [a Seinfeld] episode in which a floundering George Costanza is trying to figure out what career to pursue after quitting his real estate job. He hits upon sports broadcaster.”Well,” skeptical pal Jerry says, “they tend to give those jobs to ex-ballplayers and people that are, you know, in broadcasting.””Well, that’s really not fair,” George replies.The joke is, of course it’s fair. Just as it’s fair for state high school athletic associations to prohibit home-schooled students from competing on public high school teams because they’re not, you know, public high school students.Parents who choose to home-school do so for a variety of reasons: … Whatever the reason, they have chosen to bypass the extracurricular activities that the local public school offers, including sports.

This is a little bit like a sign in a restaurant that says “Bathrooms for patrons only.” The restaurant spends money on this bathroom because they are legally required to have a bathroom, and/or wish to accommodate their clientèle. People coming in off the street add to the cost but do not contribute. Therefore it is reasonable to disallow them from using the facilities.On the other hand, it is not socially nice, and it does not build good will, to disallow access to the facilities. One could argue that a well run restaurant in a busy urban area would not mind if the occasional person off the street used the facilities. I mean, after all, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Good will and all that.On the third hand, if I may be allowed this anatomical oddity, nice restaurants in busy urban areas may have the problem that the sort of folk that would wander in to their restaurant to use their facilities are dirty smelly homeless people and junkies. That’s bad for business.But, that is not very civic minded, and rather classist. If you, Mr. or Mrs. restaurant owner, have a problem with homeless people and junkies hanging around in your neighborhood, then join with your bluishness association and your neighborhood association and help work at the root problems of economic inequality. Join forces with other businesses and help the homeless shelter and build a public bathroom. Whatever. Just fix it.The same back and forth set of arguments could be made regarding athletics and other extracurriculars situated in public schools in relation to home schoolers.Do the schools lose the funding per student who is home schooled? Then the schools should not be required to provide for these students in any way. If they do receive funding based on children per district regardless of if they are home schooled, then they should provide.But wait, even if the schools are not compensated, don’t schools generally get involved in community level project anyway? Couldn’t this be counted as one such project? On the other hand, as more kids home school in a given district, if the school provides equivalent services to those kids, this cuts into the overall budget and decreases the quality of education for the actual kids in the actual school.And so on.But what are schools really doing?

Turns out, though, that more of the country is taking a Costanza view when it comes to home-schoolers suiting up for sports. According to the Loudoun County-based Home School Legal Defense Association, 15 states allow home-schoolers to compete on public high school teams, with a steady trickle of states opening their programs in recent years, said Chris Klicka, senior counsel for the organization. Some other states allow local school divisions to set policies.

I met a kid (verging on adulthood) the other day at the gym. He was a former student of my wife’s (thus the meeting). He was huge. Big giant muscles, he was biceps curling 60 pounders as a warm up.He had left high school as soon as he could legally do so, with the plan of getting a GED, then taking some community college courses, all the while working out at the gym every day, with the intention of showing up at the U at about the ripe old age of 23 or 24, huge, athletic, and ready to join the Gophers football team. He had already finished his GED, and had good high school grades, and I assume he was doing well in his community college courses.I thought this was brilliant, but odd. When I mentioned it later to a person who knew a lot about the sports scene in Minnesota, I learned that this was not at all unusual.So, maybe a new class of home schoolers should emerge, to the benefit of athletic-based fund raising efforts at major universities. Get the kids out of high school early, get them beefed up, — home schoolers can spend a LOT more time at the gym — moderately well educated, and you’ve got a super-human breed of athletes to propel the ol’ alma mater to the finals.On the other hand….[source of quotes]

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15 thoughts on “A Case Against Home School Athletes

  1. When I started being homeschooled, the grade school I left was very supportive- they let me participate ala cart, taking music/gym/art and continuing to take part in the gifted program. It was great. They may very well have continued to get funding for me, which was fine by me.The junior high and high school I was in the district of, on the other hand, would have been happy to have me as a student, but was not willing to accomodate any partial arrangement. As far as I know, this was not due to whether they would get money for me but just due to a general ‘we must follow attendance policy’ attitudes.I think it really benefits the homeschoolers to have access. I’d very much support a program that allowed districts to receive funds (full or partial) for the homeschoolers in their district in return for access.

  2. I’m against school vouchers. We provide public schools, public transportation, and public libraries, etc to provide services. People that aren’t happy taking the bus don’t get gas and/or car payment vouchers, and people that don’t like the library don’t get B&N vouchers. Schools should be no different. You either accept what you get, try to make what you get better (be on school board, PTA, volunteer, whatever), or you provide your own. This seems to be the root problem here. In some cases, home schooling is for fine reasons, but in a lot of cases, it’s because of some perceived failure in the school system – not educating good enough or the right way, around undesirable social groups, or for some other reason. Whatever. It’s wanting to have your cake and eat it too. The parents of these kids don’t want to be involved with the public schools except when they choose to do so.And yes, I’ve tutored high school students, and considered teaching public schools, before I realized I wanted to teach at a higher, and more abstract level.

  3. Homeschooled kids have every right to play on public school athletic teams. Regardless of whether the state pays schools per pupil or per child-in-the-district, the homeschooled kid’s parents pay taxes like everybody else.Besides, how much extra does it >really< cost the district to allow a handful of homeschooled kids try out for the team? You wouldn't need any extra coaches--you're talking about the cost of a few uniforms.(No matter what the rules, if a homeschooled high-school boy was 6'3" and 220 pounds, you can be damned sure they'd let him play football.)

  4. …don’t know why that comment screwed up. The second paragraph should have said:How much does it really cost to let a handful of homeschoolers try out for the team? You wouldn’t need any extra coaches–you’re talking about the cost of a few uniforms.

  5. I see it this way; if a homeschooler gets to socialize in the public schools by being involved in activities (and paying the fees that everyone else does) then it will give them the opportunity to learn that public schools are not the cesspools of sin and drugs that their parents claim.I think it will be good for the students in the long run. I have not been a fan of per-pupil funding because of facilities’ fixed costs, but I can understand how that would be an issue. The parents of homeschoolers do pay property taxes for the school district even if they aren’t taking advantage of public education, and I think it entitles them to community activity benefits.This issue is one of the drawbacks resulting from the way that athletics are tied to the schools. I had a German foreign exchange student stay with my family several years ago and she was surprised to find that most athletics and musical programs were tied to the public school. She said that in Germany the cultural and athletic programs are run as independent entities.Let ’em play.As for restaurants and gas stations, if an attendant tells me that I can’t use their restroom unless I buy something I may buy the cheapest item they have, but I never return.

  6. In my days of High school ball, we had to pay extra costs for our uniforms,and other per sport fees–if the homeschoolers wanna cough that up (i.e. Ginny, taxes do not fully subsidize high school sports) then let ’em play. But make sure they leave their automatic and semi-automatic weapons and other odd ‘boundary crossing behaviors’ at home,with mom.Off topic but on analogy:As for public toilets and the homneless? Yep, Greg that does sound classist to some degree, but is an apt analogy. No one likes the smell of sweaty feet and unwashed clothes wafting by them as the brunch ( I know, because I see the looks on peoples faces as I slip past them into the bathroom to bathe in the restaurant bathroom sink), and yet this is a very important issue–> the homeless are a part of society, and deserve public facilities!!”in New York City, where public bathrooms are often padlocked and the scent in summertime is more likely to be urine than honeysuckle….”Why dose it take us so long to address this real necessity, this fundamental human right of public facilities?http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9903E5DB1739F933A1575BC0A962958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=alland another good read”Designing for the Homeless: Architecture That Works By Sam Davis”

  7. Of course, the 6’3 220 lb (American) footballer plays. Even at the high school level, sports is a big deal. Schools also do things like accept kids out of district, or otherwise not qualified. Greg had it right – it’s to “propel the ol’ alma mater to the finals.” So what about the kids who don’t get to play because they get pushed aside by one of these outsiders? Also are we going to also let private schoolers leave their teams behind and come play on a public school team? That seems good for the private schools. They push their sports off on the public schools, and have more money for academics.I’m not too entirely sure that the parent’s want their kid on the team to socialize. I (cynically?) suggest they want their kid on the team because it’s to their benefit when the college scouts come looking.I wouldn’t mind seeing more sports and activities being community based. There are of some; for example, I think Little League has programs for older teens. Still the funding issue is moot. We all pay taxes for public services whether we need them or not, or whether we choose to replace them with something else. If you want to make that the issue, then I deserve to not pay taxes for public schools at all I have no children, and no plans for any whether they are my own, or are adopted.

  8. From what I have seen, private schools are generally more maniacal about their sports teams than public school in the same towns.I agree with the previous commenter that the benefits of socializing the home schooled outweigh any costs.But I wonder- if people object to school for moral reasons, how willing are they going to be to let their kids into the lockerroom?

  9. In Oregon they usually allow home schooled kids to attend sports (paying the same fees other students do for uniforms etc.) and classes ala cart. In Oregon the public school is compensated by the state on a per student basis. Thus there is a lot of incentive to encourage the home schooler to attend a class.As for the comment about the school voucher thing; nice argument in theory. It completely ignores those people in the lower economic bracket who live in an area where the school sucks. You seem to be saying that their school sucks because they didn’t do anything about it. Not everyone is capable of fighting the morass of government beaurocracy. Certainly people on the lower end of the economic ladder are probably less capable of doing so. They usually lack the income necessary to do what a lot of people do which is to move into a neighborhood with good schools. Ask any real estate agent what major deciding factor people use to decide where to buy a house. Sure cost is a factor, but overwhelmingly the quality of the public schools is a major factor. (they want one where the public schools are good)That choice is removed – or at least severely attenuated – for those with less economic resources. We should allow those people a voucher to attend any school. (public or private, up to what the local school is getting) Their voting with their feet would allow their voices to be heard more clearly.There are a lot of places in Europe where they have a voucher system and it has raised the quality of education for all. We should do it here for at least those below a certain income threshold.

  10. “then it will give them the opportunity to learn that public schools are not the cesspools of sin and drugs that their parents claim. ” Mike HMike, the reasons for homeschooling aren’t always due to regligion. We have 5 year son with a very high IQ. He’s in kindergarten this year and his teacher told me she was concerned that he doesn’t perform at grade level. One of the things she was concerned about was science…This is a kid with whom, five days ago, I had a discussion about how viruses replicate within the cell. He has a pretty good understanding about how the immune system works and had some very insightful questions about the process.Kindergarten is excrutiatingly boring for him. When I asked him about her perception he said “I usually just look around the room thinking about all the things I want to look at then if I have to go to the bathroom I look at the teacher and raise my hand.” One time earlier in the year, He didn’t want to go to school. I asked him why. He replied sarcastically, “What are they gonna do? Teach me how to count to one?” We are considering homeschooling him because there are no resources for his developmental level. We already went through this with our oldest child.On the other hand, I am a former professional athlete. My husband and I have two athletic kids and one non-athletic kid. The five year old is very athletic. This doesn’t mean that he will be an athlete (or a great one), but if I am paying for public school, I think my child should have the same opportunity to earn a scholarship via athletics as any other kid in the public school system–especially since the public school system is failing educate my kid. After all, this isn’t about turf, this is about giving kids opportunities.

  11. There are a lot of homeschool-only sports leagues and teams starting up around my area and around the country for this very reason. But I still managed to play Ultimate frisbee my senior year for North Carolina’s best HS Ultimate team. Must have been because I was 6’2″ and fast…I’d say mixing homeschooled and public schooled kids on a team is an excellent way to start doing something about the “socially retarded” complaint that everybody always brings up.

  12. Kay -I was being flip and didn’t mean to imply that religious reasons were the only ones for which people homeschool. The schools have a very hard time dealing with pupils who have advanced learning skills. My nephew is one. It wasn’t until he was in eighth grade until my sister was able to find a good magnet school for him.The kid is thriving now, and I am glad that your son has you as a parent.Mike

  13. In contrast, the Department of Defense schools (for overseas military) seem quite happy to have homeschoolers. DoDDS receives their funding based on numbers of registered students. Homeschoolers register at DoDDS – as homeschoolers – and DoDDS gets the funding. In exchange, homeschoolers are entitled to use the facilities, take classes ala carte, and participate in extracurricular activities.It’s a good deal all-around.

  14. Katrina, don’t tke this the wrong way, but after you said “Homeschoolers register at DoDDS – as homeschoolers – and DoDDS gets the funding. In exchange, homeschoolers are entitled to use the facilities, take classes ala carte, and participate in extracurricular activities.”I LMFAO…..the whole idea of homeschoolers as freeloaders is well documented, and it sounds like the DoDDS is perfect for them.After all, anything that is DD is sure to be an interesting ride–after all, these are the gys who helped implement project MK Ultra, right?http://www.fdrs.org/mkultra_school_children_mind_control.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MKULTRAMarriage made in heaven….

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