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Home school advocate


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Sen. Gilbert Baker would never require a child to attend a public school. But he does propose to require public school districts to allow home schoolers to play sports and participate in extracurricular activities in the public school districts in which they live. He also doesn't want to let public school districts join organizations that might set rules against participation by private school or home schooled students.

I expect public school administrators will have objections, as they have across the country. Some districts have consented to home schooler participation, but only where they've been given the means to gauge the students' academic progress. Baker's bill doesn't seem to specifically allow for this.

If the home schooler adds to the number of students supervised, some are likely to argue that the child should be counted in attendance on which state reimbursement is made. But should it be full reimbursement, or partial? Administrators will argue that these activities are privileges for enrolled students, not a gift to be given to others who aren't enrolled and aren't subject to the same oversight as regular students.

Baker can wave Tim Tebow's name all he wants, but this is an issue that defies sloganeering.

If you want to go to public school to play football and band, go to public school. What's next? Lunch? German? The newspaper? Anything but biology.

LITTLE ROCK - Senator Gilbert Baker of Conway has filed legislation known as the "Tim Tebow Law." It would allow home-educated students to participate in sports, fine arts and other extra-curricular activities offered by the school district in which they live.
Senate Bill 842 by Baker prohibits discrimination against home-educated students in interscholastic activities. Under the bill, students could participate in varsity sports and extra-curricular activities , as long as they meet all the other requirements. If fees are required by all participating students, the home-educated students would have to pay them as well.
Tebow won the Heisman Trophy as the quarterback of the Florida University football team. He was home-educated in Florida, which has an equal access law that allowed him to play football for his local high school.
Under SB 842 home-educated students would be covered by the district's health insurance policy while they participate in interscholastic activities. They would take physical exams if they participate in a sport or activity requiring a physical.
SB 842 specifies that public schools could not join organizations that discriminate against home-educated students.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.
Besides Florida, Tennessee, Colorado and Arizona have equal access laws. Legislation similar to SB 842 is pending in Kentucky and Alabama.


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