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But some of my best friends are home-schoolers

Updated on June 16, 2012

It is sometimes uncomfortable when an “outsider” wants to join a hitherto homogenous group. It didn’t work out well for the Britons in the sixth century when they invited Angles and Saxons help them with the Picts and stayed to make the country Angle-land.

Similarly, when the Duke of Normandy came by the land of the Angles for a cuppa, and the duke (Guillaume the Bastard (as he was known before conquering England and likely would have been afterward had Harold survived the meeting)—often known here in the States as William, or to Francophiles, Billé, decided to stay.

In “A Raisin in the Sun,” which I consider one of America’s two best dramas, Lorraine Hansberry addressed the issue of the Younger family having the audacity to hope to move into a previously white neighborhood.

Also in the 1950s, Alabama Governor Orval Faubus and some of his best friends in the National Guard were personally on-hand at Little Rock’s Central High School to greet nine black students who planned to matriculate there.

And the latter is the closest parallel, I think, to the drama unfolding in Virginia, where Robert Bell (R-Charlottesville) has introduced legislation to allow home-schooled students to integrate with public school students on athletic teams.

I feel an attack of the vapors coming on.

On February 17, the venerable Washington Post editorialized against the folly of allowing home-schoolers to mix with public school students. The editorial was subtly entitled, “Home-schoolers on public school teams is not the answer.”

To the best of my understanding, the editorial board never revealed the question, but they made clear their opposition to a bill that would “upend” public school requirements that students “take a minimum number of courses, maintain a minimum grade-point average and meet other eligibility requirements.”

I posit that, as home-schooled students are expected to study far more than the minimum and to succeed in mastering far more than the minimum of what they study, their presence on the playing field would not negatively influence public school athletes who are required to do all of their learning on state-approved sites or in the evening hours doing the minimum work possible at home. (Well, I admit to adding that last “minimum” part about homework, but you know that for the majority, I am right.)

No, the Post points out that “Students who opt not to attend the local high school shouldn’t expect special treatment….” They collectively sniffed that state lawmakers “should not meddle in matters that are better decided by those who govern the activities that are critical to schools and their communities.”

How dare those carpetbaggers meddle in varsity sports? Junior varsity, we can talk….

My favorite section of the editorial, though, is where the editorial board worries about the “possibility of abuse by coaches trying to lure the most talented home-schoolers and the danger of discouraging students who might otherwise stay in school to improve their grades for a shot at a varsity jacket.”

Oh, the humanity!

Let’s see, the first fear is that coaches will try to “lure the most talented home-schoolers.” What is this, the varsity spelling bee? There’s an area where the public schools take a merciless beating at the hands of homeschoolers. But really, are there even enough home-schoolers, never mind enough whose athletic prowess is a threat to the current public school varsity –or junior varsity—or middle school pick-up team to threaten to replace public school athletes on the playing field? Sure there are some athletic homeschoolers, but if we are going to stereotype, at least let’s be reasonable and assume that the stereotype of home-schoolers is that they are nerdy Bible thumpers.

Okay, let’s grant that we have an army of home-schoolers on steroids bigger and better than their public school counterparts who are getting by on junk food and sugary soft drinks. Let’s look at “the danger of discouraging students who might otherwise stay in school…”

I am not making this up! Having a home-schooled player on JV football is sufficient discouragement for a public school student to drop out of school? Really? How did that notion even creep in here? The editorial board is like the hunter whose spasms ensure a kill because he is aiming at the whole blame outdoors.

Never mind, let’s move on to the last part of the sentence about what might keep them in school? They might “otherwise stay in school for a shot at a varsity jacket.”

As Gene Weingarten might say, “!”

The Post editorial concludes that “being on a team or in a debate club or working on the yearbook is part of being a member of a school community.”

Exactly, and if that community wants to exclude others from their community than the others are not part of the school community and my neighborhood will remain pure of any random races, religions or home-schoolers who want in—to my community.

To put too fine a point on it, in a column on the subject, Preston Williams, a sports reporter at the Post, weighed in with the scenario of a boy (“Johnny”) who attends b-ball games at the school his older siblings attended. He is eager for a chance to play on the b-ball team when he goes there. He knows most of the teachers, what cafeteria foods to avoid, how his locker smells (!). “School is his life….He’s not just a member of the community—he’s a member of his school community.”

Okay, so Mr. Williams offers the stereotype of a public school student: “School is his life.” (How does he do this with a straight face? Has the man never know a public school student? How many students does he think he is actually describing? Where in the world did identifying his locker by smell come from? Can we get that image out of my head?)

Mr. Williams’ point is that Johnny is part of the “School community.” He makes it sound like a private club….Aha! I see the spirit of Governor Faubus hovering around the door to the boys’ locker room. (Never mind that was Penn State.) He returns to the point of the Post’s editorial:

“Imagine the sting Johnny will feel when he is cut from the basketball team and a boy who is home-schooled makes the squad.” Especially, Mr. Williams points out, a “new kid… [who] might not be able to name a teacher …. [or] find the cafeteria.” Neither, by the way is a pre-requisite for playing basketball. Would it be better for Johnny, keep him from dropping out of school or striving to raise his grades so that he can earn the coveted varsity jacket if he were beaten out by the boy who has sat next to him throughout elementary school and junior high?

Of course not. The speciousness –the outrageousness and thinness—of the arguments alone argue for allowing home-schoolers to participate. They will not steal all the jobs and ravish your women any more than other groups that our forebears tried to blackball from their community did.

Let homeschoolers join the community in which they live.


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    • Nordy profile image

      Nordy 5 years ago from Canada

      Fabulously written hub and your message is delivered strong and clear. Came upon this one while hub-hopping. I am considering the homeschooling route with my own daughter and you have certainly given me some food for thought. Thanks!