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 Georgia lawmakers to support House Bill 87, 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 typically 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.
Coleman suggests amending HB 87 in one area. “Public school athletes have to meet certain academic standards, but HB 87 as currently written requires only a statement from a homeschooling parent that their child is receiving a passing grade,” she said. The problem, Coleman explained, is that the school district has no way to verify this. “HB 87 bars students from participating in public school athletics for six months after being withdrawn from public school to prevent parents of student athletes from gaming the system,” Coleman said. “Not ensuring that student athletes who are homeschooled are meeting basic academic standards creates other loopholes.” States that allow homeschool participation in public school athletics typically require test scores or other proof of academic proficiency.
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.
Currently, 30 states grant homeschooled students access to public school athletics programs, putting Georgia in the minority. “Granting homeschooled children access to public school athletics improves homeschool outcomes,” said Coleman. “We urge Georgia lawmakers to support the state’s homeschooled students by taking action on HB 87.”
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.