Editorial: Don't Force Homeschooler Sports Eligibility

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)
Another game of political football
This might be the year the Tebow bill, a perennial benchwarmer, makes it out of a state Senate committee and onto the floor for a vote.

In which case, fairness demands it should fail - unfortunately, no guarantor. Far more likely, the Senate's still unsettled party split would determine its fate.

House Bill 63, called the Tebow bill after NFL free agent Tim Tebow, would prohibit public schools from joining an organization governing interscholastic programs, such as school athletics, that doesn't allow home-school students to participate. In effect, it would bar membership in the Virginia High School League.

State lawmakers should not force a change in student eligibility that is opposed not only by the league but also Virginia's Parent Teacher Association, Education Association and Association of School Principals.

To those with the greatest vested interest in the public schools, it clearly would be unfair to let students who are not enrolled have a crack at making a school team, possibly denying a chance to enrolled students who meet all VHSL eligibility requirements - including attendance and passing grades in at least five classes.

For some, making the team is the prime motivator.

Home-schooling advocates stake their claim for participating on the fact that all taxpayers support public schools. But then, not all taxpayers get to turn out for cheerleading try-outs or show up in Spanish class to brush up on forgotten language skills.

All taxpayers benefit from educating succeeding generations. And public schools are open to all children of school age. Parents who educate their children at home make a choice.

The full House has passed the Tebow bill in previous years only to have it benched in the Senate Education Committee. The bill might benefit this year from the retirement of Sen. Harry Blevins, the sole Republican on the panel to have joined Democrats in voting against it.

Lawmakers who dream of home teams fielding a Tebow might focus instead on funding excellence in the classroom to produce winners.

January 8, 2014


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