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February 8, 2014
The Tebow Bill
Our annual debate over the so-called "Tebow Bill" has been in full swing around these parts for a week-plus. The bill has finally made it through committee in the General Assembly, passing on a full GA vote last Thursday. The bill is now in a Senate committee, and will eventually likely be put to a full vote there as well.
is as close to passage as the Tebow
Bill has come since its first proposal in Virginia.
About half the states currently have
comparable laws, which allow homeschooled children to play high school
at their local schools.
opposed to the law on several
grounds. Let's look
Apples to (Home-schooled) Oranges
- In order to play high school sports, a
fairly long list of criteria must be met.
That may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but, within a given school system, everyone
more or less has to abide by the same rules if everything is being run
should. People know
this means taking a
certain number of classes or getting a certain GPA to be eligible, but
beyond that. Kids
at public schools have
to follow the same schedule as their teammates, make nice with teachers
may not like, sit through the same boring assemblies, hurry from class
before the bell rings every day, and so on.
I remember when I was in school, if you weren't in over
classes on gameday, you couldn't play.
I'm not sure if that's still the case, but the point is that these are all the minor facets of high school life for which the homeschooled student has no direct analog. This may seem like a small element, but it isn't. The point of the exercise is that this is a shared experience. Everyone is subject to the same rules and oversight. Allowing homeschooled kids to participate is intuitively unfair to the athletes who have to do all the "little things" that someone going to public school has to do in order to stay eligible. So, in addition to often-voiced concerns about whether the "big" criteria (meaning academics) are comparable, I'm concerned about whether it's fair to ask public school kids to have to comply with all of the day-to-day aspects of high school life, but have a separate group of players who are under no such obligation.
is a silly line of reasoning.
one thing, paying taxes isn't some
magical membership card that entitles
every citizen to every government service under the sun. I think the much-repeated
demanding to fly a jet for which your taxes paid isn't particularly
but consider a less-outlandish scenario . . .
revenue that's eventually used for
public education originally comes from property taxes.
With that in mind, consider a family who
rents an apartment in the district of school X and who pays no property
tax. Their son
plays high school football for
school X. Now
situation. I'm a
homeowner with a house
in the Douglas Freeman district, but I don't have any kids.
if you think that a homeschooled kid
not being able to play public-school sports is unjust on the grounds
parents pay taxes, must it not also be unjust that a child whose
parents pay no
taxes is allowed to play? And what about me? I have no children, but I
pay more than the
average taxpayer. What
do I get for
that? Should I be
able to show up at the
Freeman cafeteria a couple of times a week and demand a free corn dog?
reason this seems ridiculous is that
the argument falls apart under scrutiny.
In no other aspect of life is there an expectation that
the mere fact of
tax payment confers a right for one
not only to enjoy a benefit or service the government provides, but to
choose precisely how that service
provided (see #3 below).
mind the fact that this line of logic
hardly accounts for the reality that many players have parents who pay
tax, or that some players are wards of the state, or that some
no way to access this benefit. Not
mention the fact that, if this argument applies to sports, it should
theoretically apply to almost any individual activity at a public
example, there's no privately-run
equivalent to Key Club that a homeschooled kid could join, right? So, should the Key Club
have to permit
membership by non-students?
direct relationship between payment of
taxes and a "right" to play high school sports is one that has been
from whole cloth for the purposes of getting this bill passed.
- Nearly as important as the logical failing of the pro-Tebow-Bill
this corollary: "Just because we pull our kids out of public schools
mean our kids shouldn't be able to play on public-school sports teams!"
Yes. Yes it does.
exactly what it means.
of the essences of life is the idea of opportunity
have consequences. Public
schools (rightly) don't want to allow
outsiders to play on their sports teams.
A parent is perfectly free to have their kids play public
which are open to all, so long as the student lives in the district and
the correct age.
they don't get to do is say "We
reject public schools as dangerous or
heretical or immoral or incompetent or otherwise incapable of educating
child in the way we see fit, so we won't be partaking in that
. . . except on Friday nights at 7:00."
that's a good thing.
not only is it perfectly reasonable
for teachers and administrators to expect only students who are
enrolled at the
school and fulfill all requirements to be allowed to participate in
that bargain also teaches a
lesson about opportunity cost.
you want the promotion at work, maybe
you can't take a bunch of Fridays off to go play golf.
If you want a girl to marry you, maybe you
can't ignore her for weeks until you feel like seeing her again. If you want to make your
every month, maybe you can't spend thousands of dollars on rare comic
if public schools are good enough
for you to play sports for them, then they're good enough for you to
with all of their requirements for doing so.
are an extracurricular
activity. Note that
don't accept the curriculum?
You don't get the "extra."