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Stars of tomorrow shine today
NIE "Star Search" op-ed column on whether home-schoolers should be able to participate in public-school sports. By Tarah Portland of Colonial Forge High.

Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 5/7/2012

WITH ALL of the educational differences between home-schooling and public school, today the most debated topic is participation in sports. As a student at a public school, I believe home-schooled children should be excluded from participating in public high school extracurricular activities, especially sports. Home-schooled students don't represent the school, so they shouldn't represent the sport. They don't have the right to win a spot on the roster or elude the school's oversight in behavior and grades.

I put hard work into eight classes and abide by public-school regulations, ensuring my eligibility for graduation. If a student can't walk across the school stage to graduate, he or she should not participate in after-school sports: "High school sports are supposed to be an extension of the classroom," said writer Preston Williams for the Washington Post. The time, effort, and determination that I have put into my schoolwork illustrate my representation of the school. The home-schooled kid, however, doesn't have the privilege of getting the school's diploma. Thus, he or she should not be allowed to represent a school where he or she isn't a student.

Public-school students do not especially care for home-schooler participation, either. This winter, the Colonial Forge girls soccer team put together an indoor session for off-season training. A girl who was on the team previously was unable to join the team because the last spot was taken by a home-schooled girl. Because the home-schooler didn't attend the school, the team's bond with our goalie was scarce. And, our chemistry on the field wasn't as effective as it might have been if the returning player had been on the team instead.

With this unjust representation, the home-schooled child and his or her parents' behavior cannot be monitored by administration since he or she is not part of the school. "Public high school athletes have to meet standards in regard to attendance, grades, and behavior. If your punishment is being sent to your room and not to the principal's office, then a coach or school cannot monitor whether a player should be eligible," Williams explained.

Williams also provided statistics that show the majority of parents who home-school their children are often in opposition to public school's administration and curriculum. So why should they be allowed to participate in the school's outside activities?

Taxes are the dominant element keeping home-schooled families fighting for their rights to participate in public high school sports. Because these families are taxpayers, too, it seems ethical to allow their children to participate in the school systems they are helping to fund, as was supported by the Tim Tebow legislation proposed to the Virginia General Assembly. However, many people pay taxes for things they may never use, such as roads or VRE. This concept is no different from home-schooling families paying taxes on what they may never use, the public school systems. Just because Tim Tebow's story has made him successful doesn't mean Virginians should follow in his footsteps.

Tarah Portland is a senior at Colonial Forge High School.

Are public-school sports for the home-schooled?
ABOUT THE JUDGING The winning entries in today's newspaper were selected by Free Lance-Star staff. These entries, along with winning entries for the blog category and eight honorable-mention winners are featured on fredericks burg.com. Winners have the honor of knowing that their work was selected by professionals in their fields.