PROPOSED LEGISLATION WOULD OPEN PUBLIC SCHOOL SPORTS TO HOMESCHOOLERS IN WISCONSIN
It has come to our attention here at Wisconsin CHEA that for over a year now, Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt of Fond du Lac has been working on a "Tebow Bill" for Wisconsin. This is a bill that would give homeschoolers (and others) the option of trying out to play on public school sports teams.
Here is an analysis of the proposed legislation by the
Legislative Reference Bureau:
"This bill requires a school board to permit pupils who reside in the school district and are enrolled in a private school located in the school district, an independent charter school located in the school district, a home-based private educational program, or a virtual charter school, to participate in interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities. The bill also prohibits a school district from being a member of an athletic association unless the association requires member school districts to allow such pupils to participate in interscholastic athletics.
For pupils described above who are enrolled in a private school or independent charter school, the bill applies only to those sports that the private school or charter school does not offer.
The bill takes effect on July 1, 2014."
At the bottom of this page, you will find a link to a great article written by Scott Woodruff, the Wisconsin liason for Home School Legal Defense Association. In Scott's article, you will find a link to the proposed legislation so that you can read it for yourself.
Before you look at those, we want you to know that the stand Wisconsin CHEA takes on all issues is this:
We believe that EVERY home school parent can think and speak
for him or herself.
We believe that EVERY home school parent has their own opinions on matters, and if provided the information on any matter, they will use their own best judgment as to what works best for their family,
and for their children.
Wisconsin CHEA never has, and never will claim to speak
for ALL homeschoolers.
We believe that it is our job to provide home school parents with information, and let each individual family do what is best for their own family!!
Having said that, we want you to have the most helpful information we are able to provide, to help you make a wise and informed decision.
In my information gathering, I talked to Scott Woodruff from HSLDA, and to Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt himself. I also did a lot of reading on the subject matter, including, of course, the proposed legislation.
I believe that Representative Thiesfeldt is very sincere in this matter. He really wants to help homeschoolers as he has been approached by home school families regarding this matter.
We all know that many, many parents end up putting their children back in public school, especially at the high school level, in order to allow their children to play sports. I have heard many, many parents tell me personally that they are not happy with this decision, and the grand majority of parents end up regretting this decision in the long run.
I cannot tell you how many emails and calls we get here at CHEA asking us about sports and home school students. This is especially true with families that move here from other states, where they have been homeschooling. As Scott Woodruff says in his article, as of today, 30 states already give homeschoolers access to public school sports (either as a matter of right, or with the school's approval). Wisconsin is NOT one of those. So, when folks move to Wisconsin from a state that allows this, they are disappointed.
There will be some home school families that will want to take advantage of what this proposed legislation offers, and will be thrilled with the idea!!
On the other hand, there will be other home school families that do not want anything to do with public schools at all, in any form.
We here at CHEA respect both of these opinions.
So, the biggest question is, Will it affect our home school freedoms?
Wisconsin CHEA has always worked very hard to protect your freedoms, and we continue to do this each and every day. We have done this for over 23 years now!!
For example, on the issue of charter schools, Wisconsin CHEA has taken a firm stance that we believe that virtual charter schools will ultimately affect home school freedoms, because if legislators see a large number of homeschool families enrolling in virtual charter schools, which require a certified teacher, mandatory testing, etc... then, these legislators will want to increase the restrictions for ALL homeschool families, which we are firmly AGAINST.
However, in this present matter, after reading the proposed legislation, and speaking with Representative Thiesfeldt, we do not believe this will affect home school freedoms. This is strictly a CHOICE. The proposed legislation simply will offer the choice to homeschool families to take part in public school sports. It will not be mandatory for anyone!!
Plus, there will be no restrictions.
Now, we must be realistic here. I checked with the local high school, and of course, in order to participate in sports at that level, a student must maintain certain standards- one being his Grade Point Average.
If the local public school student must attain and maintain a certain GPA in order to participate in high school sports, would it be fair to admit other students, private or homeschooled to a team with no standard? Of course not.
I did talk about that with the Representative. He realized that point, and I made it clear that we would not want any interference in the home school at all. There could be no entering the home, no checking of books, tests, etc. He agreed with this point, and Representative Thiesfeldt suggested there could possibly be a form for the parent to fill out simply stating the student's GPA, at the local level ONLY. He has taken these ideas into consideration, and is working on amending his proposal, to ensure that there would be no threat to homeschool freedoms.
At this point, reading it over even in its present form, we here at CHEA do not feel there is a threat to our homeschool freedoms.
We here at CHEA would tend to agree with HSLDA. We are neutral on this matter. If, at any time, this proposed legislation looks as if it may affect our home school freedoms, we will certainly amend our position. And, we will be sure to keep track of what goes on with this. We have already asked Representative Thiesfeldt to keep us updated as to any amendments, changes, or action on this proposed legislation.
I encourage you to follow the links below to read a brief article by Scott Woodruff, which is extremely informative and thought provoking.
Also, in Scott's article, there is a link to the proposed legislation. Click on that link to read it for yourself.
Then, I encourage you to take action. For action ideas, please keep reading below the link to the article.
The HSLDA article is entitled "Bill Would Open Public School Sports to Homeschoolers- The Big 12." It is a great article, and the author, Scott Woodruff makes a lot of good points.
Please click here for that article,
and remember, it will give you a link to read the proposed legislation for yourself!! The link is in the first paragraph, and reads "...available for public review."
When you decide if you are for or against this proposed legislation, please call Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt's office to tell him where you stand. He has told me that he is looking forward to hearing from all of you!!!
His phone number is: 608-266-3156.
Also, Representative Thiesfeldt mentioned that he needs to get a hearing before the Education Committee, and there are two men who need to hear from you, if you would like this proposed legislation to get a fair hearing. This seems to be a very important matter, as these men are not convinced this is a good idea. So, if you are for this proposed legislation,
be sure to let these two men know!!
One is Senator Luther Olsen- 608-266-0751
The other is Representative Steve Kestell- 608-266-8530
Please take an active part in your state government, and take action if you feel strongly one way or the other on this proposed legislation.