I pay so I want my kids to be able to play

Today, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell signed into State law a bill that says “Pennsylvania’s public schools will have to open their sports teams, drama clubs, marching bands and other extracurricular activities to home-schooled students starting Jan. 1.” My question is, why should homeschooled students be permitted to participate in extra-curricular activities if their parents have decided the public school system isn’t good enough to educate their child(ren)?

Yes, I understand that they are required to, and do, pay the annual school tax just like everyone else in the State. The payment of that tax entitles their child(ren) to an education. They have chosen not to participate. The reason(s) do(es) not matter. The point is, they opted out. They’ve chosen to educate their child at home. Personally I applaud their dedication. That being said, I don’t understand why they want the activities that are available for public school children to be open to their children if they don’t like the way the schools are run or the education that is offered. Those same teachers are often the coaches of the various teams. Their philosophy of education is going to carry over to the field. So the philosophy is not good enough for the classroom but it’s good enough for the field?

And I don’t buy into the statement that there aren’t other opportunities for sports partiicpation. Well, perhaps not for free. But then they argue, well the sports scouts don’t look at players except in the school system. Oh. I see. Sooooo, this is about your kid getting a look-see for a possible college sports scholarship?

Or perhaps it’s more about this: “Sen. Bob Regola, [the] freshman legislator who sponsored the Pennsylvania bill.” He said he “became aware of the debate when several home-school parents approached him at his first campaign event.” “I said I would definitely support home-school legislation if I became a senator.” His way of saying thanks for voting me into office. Maybe?

NB: Just for the record, I applaud those who homeschool their children. It takes a lot of discipline, commitment, preparation, and faith to do so. That is not my issue.


9 thoughts on “I pay so I want my kids to be able to play

  1. Macrina is on to something. What if public education functioned like your local junior college? Students would enroll in as many or few classes and activites as they desire. Funding would be seperated from property taxes and parents would pay (or maybe be taxed) ala carte for what they use. Take enough classses and the government awards you a piece of paper. Parents would mix and match school, home education, community resources, etc to build a custom education for their children. And for those parents too lazy to bother, they can continue paying for a full day of daycare from the school system.

  2. Hi Phillipa.

    Perhaps what we might see this as is not the adverserial “homeschool” vs. “government education” that has pervaded the educational forum for so many years, but a more equitable, democratic approach to the situation – in that homeschoolers are a varied lot, and homeschool for a variety of reasons – some religious, some political, some just that their kids do better in a less structured and less regulated environment than other kids.
    Since hs. tax dollars already fund the educational system, why can’t they partake of what they want – and why can’t some bricks and boards kids function as part hs. and part system kids? That’s what’s happening in our province, and while there’s a lot of tension between the government wanting full control and the hs. wanting no government interference, there is a middle way being worked out that accomodates the needs of students – whether through total homeschooling, on-line distance ed, partial attendance at a bricks and boards school or a combination of all three variants.
    I pulled my kids and did a combination of homeschooling and distance ed for two and three years – it worked for them, and now they’re back in the system. But I couldn’t have done it without the availability of the distance-eduation facilities, and the willingness of the government and the school board to support me in that – which allowed for the maxmimum benefit to my children’s learning. I’m glad it’s happening – it means that more freedom exists to do things in the way that works best for the kid to learn what they need and want to learn.

  3. I’m not denying that the children very well might come into contact with influences undesirable to the parents. My only point is that it is up to the parents to decide. They are best placed to know what is best for their child. And even if they weren’t, it is still their call.

    If they don’t like the band teacher, then the parents have to do a cost/benefit analysis and make a decision. They might have to tell their child that marching band simply isn’t an option.

    In my experience, as far as being under the influence of other teachers beause they are in school for extra curriculur activities, it is not that will simply be in contact with these people. Most homeschoolers are not social isolationists. (For those who are, this topic is not relevant anyway.) It is that the child will not be under the academic influence of the teacher and/or the curriculum. They will not be subjected to the philosophical presupposition and/or agenda of either one.

    As far as I am concerned, a parent should have the right to use as much or as little of the state education system as they like, academic or not. They have paid for it.

  4. Yes, but David, those same teachers that they didn’t want for class can be, often are, the coaches for the teams they wish to play on. Don’t you think the philosophy the teacher holds in the class room can/will transfer to the sports field?

    Also if they don’t like Mr. Schmemann the band director and their kids wants to be in the marching band, which is an extracurricular activity, then they’ll need to be at the school during school hours because that’s when many bands practice (at least our did). And what about all the other concerts the band and orchestra play through out the year? They end up in the school, under the influence of other teachers and students, which they don’t want in the first place.

    I dunno. You’ve provided more food for thought though. Thanks for that. I am always willing to be persuaded when presented with a good argument. So thanks for that David.

  5. I have to disagree with you on this one Philippa.

    Even though I am now a public school teacher, I was very involved on the political side of the homeschool movement for years in the States.

    You ask why homeschoolers should be permitted… I don’t think you have given a good enough reason why they should not be permitted. You have given reasons why they shouldn’t want to participate in school-based extra-curricular activities, but not why they should be forbidden from doing so. I can’t see why their refusal of the academic offerings already paid for by their tax dollars should be linked to other state-sponsored tax-paid activities administered through the local school system.

    At the end of the day, the point of homeschooling is that the parent decides the external influences exerted upon their child. If the parent decides that Mr Schmemman the band teacher at William Penn High is someone they want influencing their child (after Mr Schememann could be known as Subdeacon Anastasios at the local Ortho parish) but don’t want Mr Huxley the science teacher or Mr Kennedy the government teacher or Mr Chomsky the English teacher or Mr Hawking the math teacher to influence their child, why shouldn’t they have that option?

    And it’s not for free. It’s been bought and paid for. If they have already paid for soccer, or baseball, or whatever, why should they have to pay again for another club, which might have a coach who has more in common philosophically with my Huxley than he does with Mr Schmemann.

    All these names have been chosen at random, of course…

  6. Hi Chris! First and foremost, thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a great comment with good food for thought!

    You asked a good question, which I’ve not considered before. At least in our area, schools are not the only major venue for kid’s sports. We have pretty big leagues for soccer, baseball, softball, and basketball that are not connected to the public schools. So I’ll have to give your question some thought.

    And I completely agree with you. Tax dollars do not guarantee a good education. Money in general doesn’t guarantee a good education! That is evident in the GPA’s of some college students I know! What guarantee’s a good education is a committed student, at least in my mind.

  7. Clearly there are a lot of misinformed parents when it comes to competitive sports and where the scouts are…if that’s their only concern.

    As a homeschooler, we have to recognize that we can’t have our cake and eat it, too without a sacrifice and in order to do means there will be compromises that go against most homeschoolers’ reasons for doing so in the first place.

    Here in Georgia, this question continues to come up every year it seems and every year the homeschoolers all rise to the challenge and refuse it ~ they (the government) don’t give anyone anything without adding a loophole hoop to have to jump through.

    We’ve managed to just fine with sports outside government schools ~


  8. You are asking the wrong question. The question is why are the schools the center of competitive youth sports?

    Also – tax dollars do not guarantee an education. Attending school is no guarantee of an education.

    In the end I’m agnostic on the school sports issue. HS’ers that join the team will be under increased government regulation. There will have to some way for the schools to confirm eligibility. However, PA homeschoolers are among the least free in the nation anyway. They already operate under a level of government scrutiny that insures that PA will never ever see any state income tax from me.

    I wouldn’t want to see it in my state because if some homeschoolers want to subject themselves to state regulation it opens up an opportunity for the state to wonder why the rest of us aren’t under the same level of regulation. Since they were already over regulated in PA – maybe it doesn’t really matter there.


  9. Thank you for giving me something to chew on here. I’ve been thinking more and more about homeschooling (yes, my as-yet mythical children), and I hadn’t thought about the *no marching band*.

    I will simply have to marshall the children of the parish, I guess.

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