Patrick Foss is a typical high school student. He plays soccer, has friends, and hopes to attend the University of Virginia after he graduates from high school. However, there is one difference between Foss and his neighbor, another young athlete who plays for his high school’s basketball team: Foss can’t play for a high school team because he is home-schooled.
“My parents pay the same exact taxes as my next-door neighbor who plays varsity sports,” Foss said. “I just want to be part of the community. You shouldn’t have to pick between athletics and academics.”
Foss says he would like to try out for the kicker position on Freedom High School’s football team. Sadly for Foss, that has not been an option in the past. However, a new bill is sitting before the House of Delegates in Virginia’s General Assembly that could change this fact. If it passes, this bill would be a victory for home-schooling advocates who want to allow their students more access to extracurricular activities at local public schools.
Currently, 25 states already allow home-schooled students to play sports at their local schools, although there are various restrictions concerning this issue. Three more states – Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee – might be joining these ranks soon.
Those who oppose letting home-schooled students play for their local schools point out that the students who attend the schools must meet certain requirements in order to play. For example, students in Virginia must be currently enrolled in five courses and also have successfully passed five courses during the previous semester in order to play varsity sports. This rule would not apply to home-schooled students.
“There are thousands of public school students whose parents pay taxes and who attend public schools and don’t meet the eligibility requirements; they don’t get to compete in sports,” said Ken Tilley, executive director of the Virginia High School League. “Others (home-schooled students) don’t meet regulations and requirements, and they’re going to get to compete? That doesn’t make sense.”
It seems to me that if a student’s parents have decided to education their child at home, they should also have to pursue extracurricular activities outside of the public school system as well. I agree with William Bosher, who teaches public policy and education at Virginia Commonwealth University. Bosher said:
“I support choice, but if you’ve chosen [home-schooling], you can’t use public schools as an á la carte system. It’s football today. Tomorrow’s it a National Academy of Sciences project. The next day it’s homecoming queen. Where does it begin and end?”