Double Standard

Home-schooled kids don't belong in school sports.

A few weeks ago, the Arizona Daily Star ran not one, but two golly gee whiz-toned articles about home-schooled kids who have participated in high-school athletics, a privilege they have not earned nor one of which they deserve to partake. I suppose it would be asking too much for the Star to recognize this for the evil that it is, but perhaps they could present an even-handed story with both sides of the issue being covered.

In the first piece, the writer just gushed about how some societal dropout decided to come to the rescue of the Cholla High swim team. (I guess that means that the regular kids at Cholla aren't very good swimmers. Wink. Wink.) The other one was about a home-schooled kid who played football at a local Christian school. Slightly different, but no less reprehensible.

At the start of the home-schooling movement, parents were almost unanimous in their rejection of all things public. But lately, some have decided that they want to have their cake and eat it, too.

These particular home-schooling parents, having elevated selfishness and hypocrisy to art forms, have now decided that it's OK for their kids to be, figuratively speaking, a little bit pregnant. They're constantly telling their children that they fought long and hard in the Legislature and in the courts to see to it that they had the ability to separate and remove the kids from the evil, underachieving public school system for their own good. But now they're saying that the kids can check back in whenever they want to, and they don't have to follow the same rules as everybody else because they're "special."

Playing high-school sports is not a right; it's a privilege. It's one that is earned through, among other things, getting up every morning, going to school, having good attendance, being on time, getting along well with teachers and other students, displaying good citizenship, working hard in class, doing one's homework, getting good grades and following team rules. How exactly does a home-schooled kid fit into that equation?

To begin with, home schooling is like climbing into a nuclear bomb shelter to ride out a spring rain shower. It's an overreaction of mythical proportions. Still, if a parent feels strongly enough about not wanting his kid to be among the rabble, we have to accept (though not necessarily respect) that decision, even if it tends to raise questions of religious intolerance, socioeconomic insensitivity and/or blatant racism.

However, when these same people choose to separate their kids from the school system and then turn around and try to pop back in whenever it's convenient to them, that's just plain wrong.

Home schoolers, get this straight: Your kids are not better or more important than my kids, or anybody else's kids, for that matter. My kids are smarter and better athletes than yours, but those are minor considerations. The important thing is that my kids do not have more rights than your kids and neither do they get to follow a separate set of rules.

Furthermore (and please try to follow this), even if the state says that it's legal for your kids to circumvent procedures, ignore rules and slide in under a much lower set of standards than those to which real students must adhere, you should be ashamed to be a part of it. What are you teaching your kids? They might be learning geometry from some kook broadcasting over the Internet from a bunker in Montana and, who knows, you might even be smart enough to explain the Doppler effect, but when it comes to the truly important lessons of life, what are you teaching them?

That only suckers go to real school? That as long as the Republicans control the state legislature, you don't have to follow rules? That it's OK to destroy a longstanding American institution (in this case, high-school sports) in order to suit your own selfish purposes?

Make no mistake about it: Yours is not the path of righteousness and truth; certainly no more so than anybody else's. The only reason you're allowed to "teach" your kids at home is that some lowbrows in the legislature passed a law as a "Screw you!" to the teachers' unions, because teachers tend to vote Democrat. A hatred for unions in general, and teachers' unions in particular, is why this state is saddled with unregulated home schooling, severely under-funded public schools and a system of charter schools, the incompetence of which runs the gamut from comical to criminal.

The lawmakers who passed this legislation don't care about home-schoolers. They probably laugh at them behind their backs just like everybody else. And it's even worse because they're using home schooling for petty political purposes. Then, a couple years ago, they got bored and added a kicker that said that home-schooled kids--who were already exempt from standardized testing and whose "progress" is completely unmonitored--could play high-school sports if it's OK with the school and the coach.

What happens when entire teams are home-schooled? When they just practice all day and then get Mommy to sign a bogus piece of paper claiming that they're making academic progress? That's not far off and at that point the system will be irretrievably broken.

It can be headed off. Coaches and administrators can say no to these people. The media can stop sucking up to the selfish few. Home-schooled kids themselves can ask their parents why they are being allowed to function under a lower set of standards than real-schooled kids.

Or maybe the parents can just stop the hypocrisy and stand up for what they profess to believe in. You want your kids out of the public schools? Fine. Just keep them all the way out.

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