St. Louis Sports Online

Eric Niederhoffer 

St. Louis SportsOnline

columnist & principal photographer

Home School Leagues 2 March 1999

The emergence of home-schooling has lead to at least one unanticipated consequence. Now that you've exercised your right to control the educational experience of your children, you find that something is missing. What do you do if you yearn for those extracurricular offerings from that neighborhood school?

Sue, sue, sue. The principle - fairness

And what do you do if you're that neighborhood school?

Defend, defend, defend. The principle - fairness

As published in the Chicago Tribune (2 March 1999), that's just what has been happening around the country. With approximately 2% (1,000,000) of school-age young people involved in home-schooling, an unexplored niche has presented itself for some litigation attorneys.

And when sports are involved that can mean some interesting checks and balances.

Who should be allowed to participate in extracurricular athletics? Public schools have been debating and adjusting the rules for years, balancing the importance of education and the opportunities that access to sports can create in select youth.

The hopeful home-schooled would like access to extracurricular athletics.

The question now has been framed as who should make the decision about participation. Does the public school system have the authority to regulate participation of home-schooled adolescents?

The hopeful home-schooled would not like that. In fact, the Home School Legal Defense Association does not support equal access laws. Why invite the kind of intrusion that home-schooling was designed to avoid.

But what are the problems that have opponents to home-school participation in sports in an uproar?

It's a matter of fairness. Checks and balances are necessary. Why should athletes who attend class in public schools compete with home-school athletes for the few spots on the local school's team? Wouldn't this expanded system encourage misbehaviors? Cheating? And what about liability?

Or would it facilitate better opportunities? Affirmative action? Diversity?

Who better to judge and certify the academic performance of home-schooled students but the home-school teachers, be it Mom or Dad looking out for the best interests of their students.

I think not. It seems to me that if you are envious of that local neighborhood public school and the extracurricular activities that are sponsored there, there's an easy solution. Send your kids to public school, or to private school, or better, form your own Home-School League.

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