Monday, June 1, 2015

You Can't Have It All

When parents choose to take their children out of public schools for private schools, charter schools or home-schooling they usually see some benefit in it.  That benefit could be incorporation of religious beliefs into the curriculum, or not have to learn "Ten is Your Friend!" math skills, or not having to take Common Core standardized testing, or being able to learn at one's own pace (especially if that pace is accelerated).  However, that choice also comes with some drawbacks.  Private schools are not bound by laws requiring acceptance of children with special needs.  They are not required to provide alternative education for students who are expelled.  And they may not provide all of the interscholastic sports available at larger public schools.

But the State Legislature is now trying to force WIAA members to take kids who don't even attend their schools for interscholastic sports teams.  The K-thru-12 funding bill up for consideration this spring includes a provision that would basically open up middle and high schools sports to any child in the district--regardless of which school they attend--even home-schooled and virtual school students.

The WIAA is vehemently opposed to this measure--and while I don't always agree with their policies--I do side with them on this one.  Teams should be made up of students from only the school they play for.  This allows for equal enforcement of attendance, code of conduct and academic eligibility standards.  The public school kid who is failing or who skipped a day of classes doesn't get to play--but the virtual school child who is slacking off has no such restrictions.  The home-schooled kid that gets caught with a beer or drugs by their "instructor" (their parents) doesn't get a sports suspension like the public school kid caught by school security or a teacher.  Yes, there are co-op teams that include public and private schools--but they agree to standards for eligibility that are common to all institutions and students involved--and the private school provides some of the funding for the coaches, facilities and travel.  This bill would not require the parents of "non-traditional" students or the charter and virtual schools to contribute anything beyond the standard student athletics fee.

Parents have every right to take their kids out of public schools and educate them in whatever way they see fit.  But if interscholastic sports opportunities are that important to you and your child--then you should weigh that against all of the other aspects of private, home or virtual schooling--instead of just trying to cherry-pick the few things you like about public schools.

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