This is part of a short series of posts about this summer’s 4-H projects. For my Creative Writing notebook, I submitted two things. The first is an expanded, more polished version of my A Game of Thrones review. The second, which I will actually post here because it’s new, is an essay I originally wrote as part of an editorial assignment in my college writing class.
Homeschoolers’ Access To Public Schools
“Mom, Megan on my softball team was talking about maybe playing for Chesterton High School someday. It would be so cool if I got to do that!” I said one day, a few years ago.
“It would be, but you can’t,” came the reply. “You’re not in school.”
I was completely confused. I knew that as a homeschooler, I wasn’t part of the public school system that included Chesterton High School. But what did academics have to do with sports? I was just as educated as those kids, so why couldn’t I play? Over time I also learned that I was not allowed to participate in any other extracurricular activities such as Speech & Debate, marching band, and more.
I do not think this is fair, and I believe that public schools’ policies towards homeschoolers need to be changed. Currently, only ten states allow homeschoolers to participate in public school classes or sports. Indiana is not among those ten; instead, it is one of many that leave the choice of allowing homeschoolers up to each individual school district. Homeschoolers need access to the public schools without having to be enrolled there, for several reasons.
Most importantly, homeschoolers pay taxes. Everyone does. A significant amount of those taxes go to the public school system. I doubt that any homeschoolers would complain were those taxes used only for education, but that’s not the case. That money also goes to fund after-school activities and sports programs. Homeschoolers have opted not to get an education from the public school system so they should not have any worthwhile complaints about how the money is used for education.
Football, however, has little to do with education, other than being tied to the schools in the form of teams named after them. If homeschoolers must fund a sports program whether they like it or not, they should be able to get their money’s worth.
Upon discovering that I am homeschooled, many people question whether or not I am getting enough socialization. I’m not going to go into much detail about that here, but suffice it to say that participating in 4-H, softball, mentoring programs, writing groups, college classes, and more allows me to interact with many people. And yet those people I meet still aren’t convinced. Perhaps letting homeschoolers play basketball, stage plays, and practice musical instruments with public school students would make them feel better.
Opponents of my idea may raise the question, “Should students who attend private school also have access to public school services without being enrolled?” I think yes; their families pay taxes too. It doesn’t make much sense for all families to pay for the needs of a few.
This plan of easy access to non-academic public school programs would be easily implemented. The chief item of business is to establish that homeschoolers are academically qualified to participate in such programs. One cannot be in either sports or most after-school activities such as band without decent grades. No one questions the report cards of kids who attend private schools, because their schools are not that unusual.
There are some who regard homeschoolers’ grades with suspicion. I understand where they are coming from – if a parent (who also functions as teacher) were so inclined, they could alter their child’s grades and no one would know but them. Obviously that would not be a good thing, but before you judge homeschoolers, I ask you to consider the following: when my mother was a teacher, she was asked on at least one occasion if she would raise the grade of a student so that he could make the team. Homeschoolers are not the only ones who want to appear better! My mother refused to change that student’s grade, by the way.
If schools do not want to use homeschoolers’ grades, they could give them tests, the very same that their students take. I don’t like tests any more than most kids my age but if they let me participate in activities like drama or softball, I would definitely take them.
If public schools allowed kids other than their students to participate in after-school activities and sports programs, everyone would stand to gain something. Those who do not attend public school, such as homeschoolers, could more easily pursue their interests and meet new people. The public schools would gain the talent of such children on the field, in band, and on stage. What are we waiting for? Encourage your local public schools to allow greater access for all!
I received an A grade. How would you grade it? Any comments or critiques?