Why shouldn't homeschooled children, whose parents pay the same taxes the parents of public school kids pay, avail themselves of sports and some other extracurricular activities at their local public schools?
After all, if you make the argument that homeschooled kids suffer from isolation (and, by the way, I don't make that argument), this would be a way to remedy that and put them in the mix with public school counterparts. But that is now what teachers unions across the country want.
Such a move would make it easier for parents to homeschool, for one thing, and that poses a direct threat to public schools that would rather block homeschooling than beef up their programs and compete. The Virginia legislature voted recently to allow homeschooled youngsters to participate in sports and some other school activities. But Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who was elected with strong support from the teachers' union vetoed it. In making the veto, he cited an interesting rationale:
“Participation in athletic and academic competitions is a privilege for students who satisfy eligibility requirements,” McAuliffe said.
Curious. We hear a lot about privilege these days — mostly in the racial context. We don’t often hear big-shot Democrats referring to the free public-school system as a bastion of privilege. But homeschooling has a crazy-making effect on liberals — especially those whose campaigns are funded and staffed by the teachers’ unions, which despise homeschooling and, to an increasing extent, homeschoolers.
According to the Virginia Education Association, McAuliffe and his allies owe teachers “a big tip of the cap” for his 2013 win over Republican attorney general Ken Cuccinelli. “VEA members made a difference at the ballot box,” a post-election union press release claimed. “The dedicated efforts of Association volunteers across the Commonwealth went a long way toward putting some new friends of public education in office.”
The parents of homeschooled kids have made a decision about the instruction their children receive in public schools. It may be based on cultural or religious values or a sense that their children would benefit from a different academic curriculum. Why should this disqualify them from participating in some activities?
Thirty-one states do have laws allowing homeschooled students to participate in extracurricular aspects of the public school program. As National Review observes, it just might be time to let these taxpayers avail themselves of what they do like in the public school system:
[H]omeschoolers place no financial burden on the local public-education system. In effect, the families of Virginia’s 32,000 homeschooled children are putting money into the public-education system and getting nothing out of it. No one ever mentions this particular privilege with regard to homeschoolers — the curious privilege of paying for a service you don’t use.