Recently, the Alabama House of Representatives approved what they are calling a “Tim Tebow Bill” which allows home-schooled students to try out for athletic teams at the public school their parents have pulled them from. If it becomes law, Alabama will become the 29th state to have such a law on the books. These laws are named after the popular former Heisman Trophy winner because he was allowed to play for his local high school football team even though he was home-schooled.
Supporters of these laws will tout how they allow children to participate in public school activities that may not otherwise be available to them when home schooled. As a retired teacher of 30 years and former coach of 25 years, I find this logic a slap in the face of those who attend their local public schools. What these laws really do is tell young kids, and their misguided parents, you can have your cake and eat it too and to hell with those who can’t.
One of the most important lessons our kids need to master before they graduate from high school is life is all about making choices and living with the consequences of those choices. Unfortunately, too many parents have yet to master this lesson, which is why we now have Tim Tebow laws. If you are rude or disrespectful to a teacher, you should expect to be removed from class. If you get caught cheating on an exam, you should expect an F and not a second chance to take it. If you choose to get into a fight, you should expect a school suspension.
I mention all of this because these types of behaviors, and many others, are what drive some parents to choose to home school their kids. Parents who have the means often feel they are doing their children a favor by not exposing them to the countless social and academic ills found in our public schools. Whether the reasons are academic, social, or religious, I believe all parents have the right to choose to home school their children.
However, with this choice, comes some consequences and among them should be giving up the opportunity to participate in any school activities of the school you are choosing to pull your kid from. Simply put, the kid is either a student at a public school or he is home-schooled, but he is not both. This requires parents to sit down with their kid and really think things through before making a decision to home school.
Why should Tim Tebow, or Joe Blow for that matter, be allowed to represent a school team when his parents are opposed to their kid attending school there? The term “student athlete” refers to those kids who successfully navigate the academic and social challenges their school presents. By choosing to home school your kid, you may be able to duplicate, maybe even surpass, the academic standards of a public school, but you are also choosing to avoid its social challenges all together.
Keeping focused, staying out of trouble, and learning to work your way through the maze of high school is an education in itself and should never be disregarded. A parent who opposes their child being exposed to the social challenges or religious contradictions within a public school should be expected to be consistent with their beliefs. To think these challenges disappear after school while playing football or running track is naïve at best and hypocritical at worst.
What message does it send to students who attend a public school and successfully deal with all of its challenges only to find out they are not worthy of representing their school because a home-schooled kid has more athletic talent? While one kid has been avoiding over crowded classes, watered down teaching, bathroom drug deals, and cafeteria fights (all good reasons to avoid our public schools I might add), countless others are forced to wade their way through all of this. The constant number of good choices a teen must make while attending a public high school are enormous. The added stress of peer pressure, parental expectations, and school requirements make these students far more deserving of representing their school than the athletic talents of anyone whose parents opted to pull out of the school system.
By all means, home school your child if you feel it is in their best interest. However, do not expect the public institution you have no faith in to provide your child with a shot at athletic glory. There are more deserving kids than yours.
James Moore is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching and currently runs his own personal training business, In Home Jim, in Hemet, CA. Jim’s writings are often the end result of his thoughts mulled over while riding his bike for hours on end.