For Immediate Release: Everyone wins when homeschooled students are allowed to play on public school sports teams
Canton, Ma., 02/28/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging Hawai’i lawmakers to support Senate Bill 593 and House Bill 537, which would grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs. “Access to public school athletics programs benefits homeschooled students without creating problems for either public schools or other students,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE.
“Homeschooled students who participate in athletics in their local public schools tend to gravitate toward activities without a limit on participants, such as cross country running or tennis,” said Coleman. Critics frequently allege that allowing homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs takes opportunities away from other students; Coleman says the evidence for this is sparse. A 2012 survey of athletic associations in states that allow homeschooled students to participate in athletics at their local public schools found that this policy had not created problems for either students or schools.
“This is not about giving homeschooled students special treatment,” said Coleman. “It’s about opening new opportunities to a population that is currently underserved in the area of athletics.” Under the proposed legislation, the Hawai’i Department of Education would be authorized develop rules governing students’ participation, including academic standards.
In 2016, CRHE conducted a survey of 150 homeschool graduates’ athletics experiences. Survey respondents overwhelmingly believed that athletic participation was beneficial to homeschooled students (87%). Some respondents noted that athletics programs outside of public schools were limited, especially at later grades: “Once I reached junior high age there were no longer any community sports available,” wrote one participant; another noted that public school athletics programs “are very often the only access for students like myself who grew up in underprivileged areas.” Four in five respondents (80%) believed that public school athletics should be made available to homeschooled students.
“Granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting Hawai’i in the minority. “We urge Hawai’i lawmakers to support the state’s homeschooled students by supporting SB 593 and HB 5376.”
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.