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May 29, 2015

Public School Sports for Homeschoolers?

Scott Woodruff Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff helps members and advocates for homeschool freedom in your state. He and his wife homeschooled their children.

By a vote of 12 in favor and 4 against, the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance recently added language to the pending budget bills (SB 21 and AB 21) that would give homeschool students the right to try out for public school sports teams and to participate in other extracurricular activities.

HSLDA has examined the wording of the amendment (“Motion 457”) and do not find anything in it that would merit us opposing it. At this point we plan to remain neutral, as we usually are on sports access bills that do not pose a clear and present problem for the homeschool community in general.

Motion 457 gives local officials (school boards or public schools) the authority to determine if a homeschool student seeking access to a team or activity has “inadequate academic performance.” Motion 457 does not define “inadequate.” Local authorities would therefore have very broad power to develop rules hopeful homeschool athletes must follow to prove the adequacy of their academic performance.

A Threat or Not?

You may hear that if Wisconsin homeschoolers achieve sports access, their liberty will be threatened. This worry is not justified. Let’s take a look at Iowa, Maine, Idaho, Arkansas and Pennsylvania to understand why.

Iowa homeschoolers have had access to sports for decades. Two years ago, the legislature enacted a major bill that dramatically increased homeschool freedom. Maine homeschoolers have had access to public school sports since 1995. In 2003, liberty took a big step forward when the legislature abolished the requirement of obtaining approval to homeschool. Idaho homeschoolers have had access to public school sports for decades. In 2009, the legislature significantly improved the homeschool law. In 2013, the Arkansas Legislature enacted sports access. This year they abolished the requirement of year-end testing for homeschoolers. Pennsylvania homeschoolers have had access to sports for many years. Last year the legislature eased the year-end assessment requirement.

The claim that giving access to sports will jeopardize homeschool freedom simply has no historical support. The history in other states indicates that homeschool freedom stays the same or actually increases after a sports access bill is enacted.

As the bills move to the floors of their respective houses, we will continue to monitor the situation to see if our position needs to be re-evaluated.

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If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>