Archive for Monday, February 2, 2015

Bill would let home-school students in public school groups

February 2, 2015

— A Kansas Senate education committee will hear testimony on a proposal to allow home-schooled students to participate in public school sports and activities, the committee's chairman said.

The proposed bill is short on details but would allow any student living in a school district to participate in any district activity for four consecutive school years, up to age 20 and even if the student graduates before the fourth year, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Similar laws elsewhere have been called "Tim Tebow" bills for the former NFL quarterback who was home-schooled in Florida but allowed to play on his local school's football team. About half of U.S. states have laws allowing home-schooled students to play on high school teams, the Eagle reported.

Gary Musselman is executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, which governs sports and other activities in more than 750 high schools, middle schools and junior highs. He is opposed to the proposal.

"Eligibility is a status that is earned through a student's work in school . and those schools are held to very strict standards that member schools are held accountable to," he said. "What we're talking about here is a totally different model."

Supporters said the bill would help small and rural schools, which often struggle to have enough students for teams. And home-schooled students sometimes have to travel long distances to play in home-school sports leagues.

"Out in western Kansas, at some of those itty-bitty schools out there, it could be a good thing," said Kenny Collins, athletic director for the Wichita Warriors, part of the Wichita Area Homeschool Athletic Association. "In the bigger cities like Wichita and Kansas City, it's not going to matter as much. Most of our kids do not want to play for public schools. We just want the ability to play other schools."

The proposed bill does not have a listed sponsor in Kansas. Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, head of the Senate Education Committee said the committee will hear testimony about the bill.

"I do not know where it's going at this point in time, but we are going to have a hearing," he said. "I'm willing to hear the evidence and listen to what people have to say about it."

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