Opinion Brief

The Tebow laws: Should home-schooled kids play sports for public schools?

Virginia is on the verge of passing a law affecting youngsters who dream of following the career path of home-schooled-kid-turned-NFL star Tim Tebow

Virginia is close to amending its laws so home-schooled kids can participate in extracurricular activities at public schools — namely, sports. At least 25 states already have some kind of "Tebow law," so named because Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow was home-schooled in Florida but played on a public school football team. The number of home-schooled kids in the U.S. is growing, say advocates: From 1.5 million in 2007 to 2 million now. Are Tebow laws a good idea?

No. Public school isn't "a la carte": If you're a parent who doesn't "think the school's math or English program is good enough for your child, but playing on that school's football team is," you're like a kid who wants dessert without dinner, says Zack Plair in the Paragould, Ark., Daily Press. Tebow law advocates say it's about fairness — we pay school taxes, let our kids play — but such "a la carte" public schooling is unfair to students who participate in the system. I pay taxes for the whole road, but I can't "drive on the left side of the highway" or "pass on the shoulder." There is "a system in place, and the integrity of that system depends on everyone using it a certain way.""So-called 'Tebow laws' create slippery slope"

What's wrong with treating schools like a buffet? "What's so terrible about one more choice for kids and their families?" asks Lucy Steigerwald at Reason. In fact, why stop with home-schooled kids? We should open public school sports teams to private school students, too. If public schools want taxpayer funding, parents deserve as many choices as possible, and that includes letting in "a thousand home-schooled Christian dorks so that they too can be future football stars.""'Tebow law'... already lets columnists complain about too much choice"

Home-schoolers should "meet the public schools halfway": Sports bring people together, and "integrating home-schoolers into our public education system advances the goal of commonality," says Andrew Rotherham at TIME. But if they want to integrate, home-schoolers need to play by public school rules, especially regarding academic eligibility. Linking sports to grades is "a hard-won education reform," and for home-schoolers, academic eligibility means accepting "some sensible regulation of home-schooling quality.""Should home-schoolers be allowed on public-school sports teams?"

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