From Homeschool to the Hardwood

By Max Resnik

February 16, 2011 Updated Feb 16, 2011 at 6:19 PM EDT

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Homeschooled students could soon be playing for a public high school sports team near you.

House Bill 1399, which passed the Indiana House yesterday by a 60-30 vote is on its way to the Indiana Senate. The bills require that a homeschooled student who wishes to participate in a public high school sport must be home schooled at least three years prior to the year in which he or she wants to tryout for a team. It also requires homeschooled students to take a nationally recognized exam to check for efficiency in basic skills.

The bill’s authors include Rep. Phyllis Pond (R) of New Haven and Rep. Timothy Wesco (R) of Mishawaka. Wesco himself was homeschooled. They argue that since everyone in a district is required to pay public school taxes, the choice should be there for homeschooled students to tryout for public high school teams.

Wesco says, “At the end of the day I think often times you have these fractured elements of society and culture of this is the homeschool group, this is the private school group and this is the public school group. I think this is a way we can really begin to bring that together and re-create that sense of community.”

Opponents to the bill fear the slippery slope effect. They question why homeschoolers should be able to pick and choose what they want out of a public school. Additionally, they raise concern over homeschoolers taking away roster spots from public school students.

The IHSAA is opposed to the measure.

Today we caught up with Jill Larson, a homeschooling mom, who supports House Bill 1399. She, like Wesco, believes that this transition can provide a greater sense of community within a school district. She also says there is added value in bringing various educators together to ensure that students receive the best experience possible.

She says, “If you have a homeschooled child that's playing on a public sports team, that might draw in more of the homeschool community to come and cheer them on. I think it's a great way too for the different educators to provide the best experiences for kids.”

When asked about maintaining standards in order for kids to play, she says it should be a non-issue for any homeschooling parent. She says parents who are serious about homeschooling their children are doing so to prepare them for college. Opponents argue that public school students must maintain certain grade requirements throughout the year as opposed to a one-time nationally recognized exam of basic skills.

Larson says, “If you're homeschooling, you are preparing a transcript generally for your child for college. You should be able to provide grades. I think that that's only fair that the same standards, you know for grades or eligibility requirements, be met.”

The measure is on its way to the Indiana Senate. If the bill makes it through the State Senate, it will be on to Governor Mitch Daniels’ desk for his signature.

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