Home Schools vs. Public High Athletic Associations Term Paper

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Home school athletes in public school sports programs.

Home education has been expanding in the United States for the last several decades, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA, 2004). With this expansion has come a variety of complex issues regarding the rights of home educated students. In previous years, questions over the legality of home education and socialization of home schooled students were the focus of many debates, but in more recent times, the questions are much broader, focusing on the rights and freedoms of these students (HSLDA, 2004). One such complex issue for the home schooled is that of the question of equal access to public school sports programs.

Many high school athletic associations believe home schooled students and parents have made a conscious choice to segregate themselves from public education, and thus should not be allowed to participate in the extracurricular activities of that educational system. On the other hand, the parents of home schooled students believe they are tax-paying citizens who deserve equal opportunity for their children, regardless of their choice for regular education (HSLDA, 2004). This split of opinion occurs on all levels, including within local school boards, state education associations, and even within the Federal court system.

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This paper discusses home schooling in terms of common regulations regarding curriculum, teaching certification, and grading, and how those regulations can affect the outcome of equal sport participation decisions. Additionally, this paper will discuss some of the problems associated with these regulations in terms of allowing home schooled students to participate in public school sports programs, and will discuss common opinions on both sides of the issue. This paper will also analyze existing school systems which allow home educated students to participate, and will explore how those programs manage complex issues such as eligibility and liability. Finally, this paper will discuss strategies developed to allow home schooled student participation, and the effectiveness of these strategies.

Term Paper on Home Schools vs. Public High Athletic Associations Assignment

Before discussing home schooling in terms of the right to equal participation, it is important to understand the scope of the issue at hand. According to the United States Department of Education (2003), approximately 1,100,000 children between the ages of five and 18 are home schooled each year. Considering that in 1999 the estimate was only 850,000 children (USDE, 2003), it is obvious that home schooling in on the rise. Over 75% of the home educated are white, with an equal distribution between male and female students. Often, home schooled children are from families with three or more children, where both parents live within the same home and where only one parent is in the workforce. However, contrary to popular belief, the home educated are not of any primary income range, but instead come from all socioeconomic conditions (Princiotta, 2003).

It is also important to understand why many parents choose home education over an education provided in a public school setting, since through this understanding, one can begin to understand why some parents still wish for their children to participate in public school sports events. According to a study by Lines (2000), most parents choose home schooling as a means of integrating religious and moral beliefs, or due to dissatisfaction with the public school educational system. For those choose based on religious beliefs, parents cite the unsafe atmosphere of today's school systems. Often, these parents do not want their children involved in situations of drug use, "bad influences," or other destructive behavior that can often be found in young individuals. For those who choose home education based on dissatisfaction, the issues cited are often a lack of trust in the level of education received in public schools, and the evidence of lower test scores for public school students. Other reasons for the choice include convenience for large families or families living in rural areas, economic reasons, safety issues in larger urban areas, and concerns about curriculum that may go against beliefs, such as instruction in evolution for certain religious children (Lines, 2000).

After reviewing these reasons for home education, it is not difficult to understand why these parents would still like the ability to enroll their children into sports activities in public educational systems. Sports activities and the lessons learned while participating rarely go against moral or religious beliefs, and there are often lessons that actually reaffirm religious and moral belief, such as lessons in teamwork and assisting others. For those who believe the educational system is flawed, signing their children into sporting activities does not negate this perception. In short, public school sports rarely go against the morals or principles that resulted in the choice to provide home education.

However, while the parents and children involved in home education may wish to expand their school day to include sporting activities, there are currently only 14 states that require equal participation rights for home schooled students.

Even within those states, which include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington, the laws and requirements for equal participation vary greatly, both between counties within each state, and between the states themselves (HSLDA, 2004). In some states, such as Florida, home school students are allowed equal access to school's interscholastic, curricular and extracurricular activities (Florida Statutes, 232.425, 2003). However, in states such as Idaho, students wishing to participate must dual enroll in the public school system to gain access (Illinois Compiled Statutes, 105 ILCS 5/10-20.24, 2003). Since there is no Federal law or guideline in relation to the topic, governments are left to themselves to determine whether or not such participation will be allowed, and if so, how the many obstacles involved will be overcome.

One such area of complexity involves the eligibility requirements for sports participation. In most public schools, students wishing to participate in sporting activities must maintain a specific grade point average, have a specific attendance record, and adhere to all school district requirements for behavior. The concern, then, for home educated students is how these requirements would be enforced, since the students are not under the supervision of the school system.

An example of the eligibility concerns can be seen by examining the statutes regarding sport participation in Florida. According to the Craig Dickinson Act, or Florida Statute 232.425, the Legislature of the State of Florida "recognizes the importance of interscholastic extracurricular student activities as a complement to the academic curriculum." As such, the Legislature has outlined a number of requirements for participation in these activities, defined as any school related or school authorized activity occurring within the school day or outside of the school day (Florida Statutes 232.425, 2003).

First, students are required to maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or above on a 4.0 scale in those courses specifically required by Florida law (Florida Statutes, 232.425, 2003). These courses include English, with concentration in composition and literature, mathematics, which must include Algebra, sciences, which must include at least two lab requirements unless the school district can show inadequate resources, American history, world history, economics, and American Government, which must include a study of the U.S. Constitution and Florida law. Also required are course in practical arts, also known as exploratory career courses, fine arts, such as dance, choir, or speech, life management skills courses, which include consumer education, positive development, relationship education, nutrition, health, and sexual responsibility. Additionally, physical education classes and elective courses such as psychology, sociology, and other course are required throughout high school (Florida Statutes, 232.246(1), 1993).

Second, students are required to sign and fulfill the requirements of an academic performance contract between the student, the school district, the State of Florida, and the parents. This contract assures that any students whose grade point average falls below 2.0 will attend summer school classes (Florida Statutes, 232.425, 2003). The school district may add to this minimum contract as they see fit.

Third, any student participating in sporting activities must maintain "satisfactory conduct." This conduct is regulated based on school district policies, but must include provisions against felony activities. Additionally, these regulations must include statements against sexual harassment and discrimination (Florida Statutes, 232.425, 2003).

Finally, students are required to fulfill all attendance requirements, as decided by the local school board and Florida Statute 232.01 (Florida Statutes, 232.425, 2003). Statute 232.01 and 232.02 require that all children ages six through 16 participate in one of the following school formats: a public school, a religious school, a private school, a home education program, or a private tutoring program (ESSS, 2002).

All students are also required to miss no more than 10 days per school year, unless special permission is granted in cases of illness or other distress (ESSS, 2002).

As one can see, there are numerous requirements, which must be met in order for a public school student to participate in sporting activities. Florida Statute 232.425 continues by discussing the requirements for home educated children to participate in those same activities. First, the student can only participate in the activities offered by the public school to which… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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