Michael asks some very good questions about allowing homeschooled students to participate in public school sports. After you read his post and tell him your thoughts, think about it from a different angle. Should homeschooled students who have special needs be able to get speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy through the schools? Should children who are homeschooled be allowed to pick and choose which classes they attend? For example, should a homeschooling parent be allowed to take her child to the school an hour and a half a day for an advanced language class? It is no secret that Doug and I facilitate a support group for parents of children and teens with Asperger’s Syndrome. There are a HUGE number of parents who pull their children from public schools because they disagree with the way the school wants to educate their child. Those same parents then get angry and fight the school system because they think the school should still provide extra services like speech therapy. They want to observe classes and pick which ones they want their child to attend. Many expect to sit in the back of the classroom and monitor during the class. What are your thoughts?

Afterthought – I don’t want to come across as anti-homeschooling. I understand the benefits of homeschooling and kept Tommy home for one year. We had a great time focusing on his strengths while using topics that actually interested him. We may pull him out again at some point. I offered my other children the option of homeschooling and although they said no, they know the offer is always valid. I did not ask the school to provide any therapy for Tommy during his year at home because I felt like I wasn’t entitled to it. The paying of taxes should not even be a part of this discussion. Senior citizens and adults who don’t have children pay taxes just like everyone else but they can’t enroll in the same classes as full-time traditional students. Non-traditional students like senior citizens take Saturday or night classes or use the services of schools set-up for non-traditional students. I think that this is an interesting bill which is worth discussing but I don’t want anyone to get upset about it.

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  1. The school system would not be receiving money at all for the student because he/she wouldn’t be enrolled but would be spending money for the student to participate.

    I’m not sure I see the logic in this statement – my two kids go to private school, and I am still paying money for them to go to public school at the same time, through my county taxes. The same with each home-school parent: we’re paying for our children to go to public school, yet choosing to actually send them elsewhere. So a child who chooses to take a single class at a school, or participate in band/football/drama/whatever is, in fact, fully funded by their parents’ taxes. The school system, however, has already spread out that particular funding in other areas since the child is not to that point using any resources.

  2. After thinking about this, I can see how letting homeschool students play sports and other extracurricular activites could put a strain on the budget of a school system. The school system would not be receiving money at all for the student because he/she wouldn’t be enrolled but would be spending money for the student to participate. Even colleges require enrollment at the college to participate in sports and other activities. I can see how this could be a valid arguement. Perhaps public schools could allow non-traditional students to participate in extra-curricular activities if they enrolled in whatever minimum their state requires to get funding for that student. Or else they could pay just like they would have to for a private league. Very thought-provoking question.

  3. Barry, I totally agree with your logic. The problem is the way the schools are funded. Most of the funds received are from the state level and are increasingly from the federal level. The formula they use for divvying out the money is based, among other things, on the number of students enrolled in each particular school system. In theory, you are absolutey right, homeschool families by paying taxes, but not using resources should be a financial benefit to the school sytem. And on a federal or state level this is true. The current way local schools are funded, an unenrolled student, using school resources probably, would drain resources from that particular school system, while enriching the state and federal education budgets.

  4. Disclaimer: I don’t homeschool…

    That said, taxpayers support the schools through taxes that everyone pays. Schools provide services to the school-aged community using those taxes, and in some areas, extra-curricular sports require some kind of ‘pay-to-play’ arrangement.

    If I were home schooling, and the school had a service opportunity that I could take advantage of, I’d do so. My property taxes are high enough, those services should be available to taxpayers (especially since they are often available to the children of non-taxpaying illegal aliens)

    Deciding that a child would learn better at the home, or having tighter control of the content of the curriculum shouldn’t mean that tax-payer supported school services should be discontinued to homeschoolers. Often homeschoolers are paying a premium to homeschool, as they still pay school taxes, and still buy curriculum for their kids, co-op fees, etc. When they start letting homeschoolers get a tax break, then I think the discussion changes.

  5. Here’s a question: Do a lot of schools provide occupational therapy and physical therapy? Because I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one (again, I’m from Morristown, so it’s not like we had 4,000 students or anything). Speech therapy, sure, I’ve seen that.

    The bottom line to me is you get one or the other. If you have a huge problem with the way the school is treating your child or running its curriculum, run for School Board, home school, or put them in a private school that meets your needs.

    A lot of funding is based on the number enrolled, and not just “enrolled in at least 1 class”. Sure the county taxes pay for part of it, but part of it is financial and part of it is principle. It really depends on your mindset and your stance.

    Oh, and Cathy, get an opinion dear. Don’t cop out with “I’m just asking what people think.” Blogs are the realm of opinion and feedback from such. At least put yourself on one side where you can compare it to the other or play devil’s advocate to gauge reaction. It’s fine to change your mind based on enlightening comments, but it’s another to scapegoat the entire process.

  6. Hey, hey. Glad to see my comments are stirring up some thought here as well. I enjoy the debate.

    I am not against home schooling, but I also see it as a choice. You choose to send your child to private school or do home schooling.

    Now, I’d argue that home schooling is good on some levels but not good on others. I think I sense another post coming on…

  7. I didn’t say what I do and don’t object to about all this. I asked what people think. I do think that our state is cutting services and closing schools left and right and we don’t have the budget choices other states have.

  8. I homeschool, but my 10th grade son is enrolled at the local high school for one class: English. I have never been into the classroom to monitor the teacher or observe the class. I believe he is learning more in this class than I could teach him or he could learn on his own. The school has been very supportive and encouraging. I don’t understand the problem with this. The school still gets the same amount of money they would if he were enrolled full-time, yet have to spend fewer resources. I pay just as much taxes as everyone else. Why shouldn’t my son be allowd to attend this one class? I truly don’t understand your objections.

  9. I still think the tax argument is invalid. Our taxes pay the government but we don’t have access to and use of all government buildings, all of the documents they produce or even the officials we elect. Paying taxes does not automatically entitle you to the services of public schools or use of their buildings. In TN, schools get state money based on the number of full-time students and even then parents are constantly paying fees, participating in fundraisers and being asked for donations.

  10. Mister Orange, I hadn’t said my feelings when someone asked me what my objections were so I added an “afterthought” to the post. In case you can’t tell by my statement that I felt entitled to no services while homeschooling and my very direct answer to Big Orange Michael’s original post, I think that when you homeschool you should have to pay for therapy and extra classes that you want for your child.

  11. One of the reasons I brought up taxes is because the school is actually gaining dollars by my son only attending one class. The school is still getting almost $7,000 to educate him and pay for his textbooks, etc., but actually only has to provide one hour of instruction to him. This arrangement would not cause a loss of services to any school system. And I’m not anti-public school. My eldest spent all 12 years in one and turned out pretty good!

  12. Yes, there are students who get physical therapy and occupational therapy through the schools but every year they make the eligibility more and more difficult because of lack of funding. Tommy gets recommendations from the occupational therapist at every IEP. Tommy gets technology services that include the loan of an Alpha Smart for at home and at school.

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