February 8, 2012

Regarding the Feb. 6 Metro article “Bill could change the playing field”:

So I should feel sorry for home-schooled athletes who dream of playing in front of a hometown crowd? Virginia Del. Robert B. Bell (R-Charlottesville) says of home-schooled athletes unable to join public high school teams: “They just want a chance to participate with their friends, their neighbors, their community members.”

If that’s what they want, the solution is simple: Enroll in the public school. These students don’t know what it’s like to play in front of a hometown crowd because their parents made the decision to to keep them out of public school.

Parents’ beliefs that the public schools are somehow not suitable for their children, and their subsequent educational choices for their children, are denying these students these opportunities.

Nancy Carey, Annandale

I foresee several problems with allowing home-schooled students to play on public schools’ sports teams. What about chemistry class — will public-school teaching labs be open to home-schooled students? If the public school has a great math teacher, will the home-schooled student be able to attend only the math class?

Should private schools be allowed to send their students to public schools for specific activities? If a student at a private high school does not make the basketball team, will he be allowed to try out for the public school’s team? Will a home-schooled student be allowed to run for student body president of a school that she does not attend?

Is the public school system some sort of cafeteria? If a home-schooled child is not allowed to play sports at the local public school, is this limitation placed by the public school or is it placed by the child’s parents? Whom exactly should these kids be petitioning?

Timothy Clair, Columbia

● 

In his Feb. 7 Metro column, “Virginia’s home-schoolers can’t have their cake and eat it, too,” John Kelly suggested that home-schooled children should go to public school if they want to participate in activities such as school sports. Perhaps Mr. Kelly would temper his statist response if he thought about the purpose of education in this country.

For some children, a home-school education furthers academic opportunities in ways that public school cannot. However, public school exists to expand the opportunities of children. Perhaps participating on a sports team or in a play at a public school will expand the horizons of a home-schooled child in ways that will improve that child’s future.

The parents of home-schooled children pay taxes to keep public schools up and running. Why not give them the one piece of the institution that they consider valuable?

Benjamin M. Foster, Arlington

Perhaps all those opposed to allowing home-schooled children to try out for high school sports should instead thank the parents of these children for subsidizing, through their local taxes, the costs of other children’s educations. After all, their “empty seats” have helped to pay for lower student-teacher ratios, as well as books, equipment, facilities, music and other elective programs, administrators and, yes, after-school sports.

As Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has said, it’s only fair that families who pay the same taxes should take advantage of at least some of the benefits of these taxes.

Charles L. Morin, Springfield