Chat Room Tempest

Can this be the final word on home schooling and high-school sports?

Help! I've fallen into a right-wing chat room and I can't get out! A few weeks back I wrote about the vulgar notion of home-schooled kids unfairly trying to participate in high-school interscholastic athletics. I knew the hate mail would pour in, but this was ridiculous.

I usually stay off the Internet. It's mostly junk, and I prefer to get my junk the old-fashioned way--through TV. But a lot of people use e-mail these days, so I read what I get and I occasionally respond, especially when someone makes a good point that I might have missed. However, a friend of mine pointed out that chat rooms had sprung up around the column. A couple of them reprinted the column in its entirety (while others chose to take stuff out of context) and then they just stood back and let the invective fly.

The volume was unbelievable. It shoots holes in my theory that the only people on the Net are thirtysomething guys sitting up in their rooms at Mom's house, waiting for the new Star Wars movie to open.

We've got to get this straightened out now, so that we can move on to more important issues, like why Salim Stoudamire doesn't play any defense. Let's look at the three points that just about every one of you dolts brought up.

· PAYING TAXES IS A COMPLETELY FALSE ISSUE. Virtually every letter writer and chat room habitué brings up taxes as though that has anything to do with home-schooled kids playing sports on real-school teams. I get the feeling that these people downloaded a form letter during their Virtual Town Hall meeting because it seems as though every fax, letter and e-mail starts at least one paragraph with "Home-schooling parents pay taxes, so ..."

So freakin' what? That gives them the right to ignore all of the rules and safeguards put in place by reasonable people to ensure fair and responsible participation in interscholastic athletics? No, it most certainly does not. For the last time, participation in high-school sports is a privilege that must be earned through the meeting of standards in attendance, citizenship and good grades. By opting out of the educational system, home-schooled kids have relinquished all opportunities of proving their proficiency in any of these areas and therefore have no right to play.

By their (and I use the word loosely) logic, my 80-year-old mother, who lives in California and still pays property taxes, should be allowed to play football for nearby Granada Hills High. This, of course, is absurd, because, among other things, she's not a student at Granada Hills High. And, by definition, neither is a home-schooled kid.

I pay federal taxes. Does that mean that I can go to an Air Force base and demand to fly an F-16 just because I helped pay for it? That's only slightly more stupid than the claim that since these people pay property taxes, they can pick and choose which school rules they will follow and which they will ignore. How about people who pay gasoline taxes having the right to pick and choose which traffic lights they'll obey?

As for taxes, we all pay them because we choose to live in a great society, one governed by elected representatives and guided by judicial oversight. Our taxes pay for bombs and roads, forest rangers and, yes, schools. Paying for schools, whether you take advantage of them or not, is part of being an American. I sincerely doubt that there is even one taxpayer in this entire country who is happy with every item and/or program on which his/her tax money is spent. Paying taxes is one of the things we do for our country and our fellow citizens; it's not a carte blanche to follow up on every idiotic idea that pops into one's selfish little mind.

In fact, the only right we gain from paying taxes is the right to stay out of jail for not having paid our taxes.

· SPELLING BEES?! One poor dorky-ass kid wins a spelling bee on TV and, all of a sudden, that's a rationale for secluding your child from society? Did you see that poor kid? She looked like she was having a seizure! And oh sure, she could spell meitosis and syzygy, but I'll bet she would have had a hell of a time with "f-u-n" or "p-l-a-y" or (gasp!) "d-i-v-e-r-s-i-t-y."

· WHAT STANDARDIZED TESTS? This nonsense came in a close second behind the bogus tax argument. Letter writers would claim that "home-schooled kids do better on standardized tests." Where does that come from? It sounds like an urban legend that home-schoolers have latched onto to rationalize their behavior. Home-schooled kids don't have to take standardized tests, which I'm sure plays a part in the decision to home school them in the first place. We all know that standardized tests are a Communist plot, right?

I looked all over and couldn't find any reliable data to back up that claim. What standardized tests are they talking about?

One guy says that his home-schooled daughter scored 300 points above the average on the SAT. Good for her.

Heck, if my daughter had been able to stay home all day and study how to pass the SAT instead of going to school, being in the band, serving on student council and playing five sports, she too might have been able to score 300 points above the average. Oh wait, she did! Except that it was 400 points above average.

If you want to rag on me, fine. Just don't use those stupid arguments again because you expose yourself as lacking the ability to put ideas together in a logical manner. As one of you letter writers put it (and I quote), "What an moron!"

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