Equal Access to Extracurricular Activities Act (S.149) - FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
Equal Access to Extracurricular Activities Act (S.149)
"The Tim Tebow Bill"
What has happened with the legislation so far?
Key Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate worked hard to strip off a Minority Report and get a solid 36-0 vote on Second Reading. The House subcommittee vote was 4-1. The full House Education Committee vote was 11-4. Homeschool families have been working for this legislation in South Carolina since 1996 (16 years), enough time for a child to have been educated 1st Grade through college.
Can a student "game the system" by flunking out of public school and then call himself a home school student in order to qualify for public school sports and clubs?
No, two separate provisions in the bill prevent this. A student must be vested in homeschooling by being taught at home for one year. Also, a student failing academically in public school then homeschooled may not participate in extracurricular activities for a semester.
Are there different standards in the bill for the three home school groupings?
No, home schooled students from Option 1 (school district), Option 2 (SC Association of Independent Home Schools), and Option 3 (local cooperatives) are treated equally in the bill as they are in law. All three methods are set in statute and all three groups of students are eligible for state scholarships such as Palmetto Fellows and LIFE. To treat them differently in S.149 could open up Equal Protection (14th Amendment) and other Constitutional issues.
What about private school students? Will the bill allow them to play for public schools? No. Homeschools and their academic standards are governed by state law and fall under the State Board of Education. Private schools are not governed by state law.
What about other states? Homeschooled students have access to public school extracurricular activities in at least 27 states. With the experience of 27 states, every objection has been answered. No significant problems have been reported.
Who are some successful public school homeschooled athletes? Six-time pro-bowl defensive end Jason Taylor was homeschooled in Pennsylvania and played for Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh. Approximately 325 NCAA athletes were homeschooled.
Won't homeschoolers overwhelm the system? No. In Florida, of an estimated 50,000 homeschoolers, only about 315 play high school sports (1%). There are an estimated 20,000 homeschooled students in SC.
Breaking Down Silos. Citing Tebow as an example, Virginia public school official Andrew Rotherham wrote in TIME magazine (2/16/2012) that "integrating home schoolers into our public education system advances the goal of commonality...It is how you build support and political coalitions."
What about behavior and "cuts" issues? Homeschool kids tend to be well-behaved and are eager to support their community school teams. Homeschooled students would not be awarded a slot, but would try out in competition with other athletes. Coaches would continue to control cuts and discipline.
What will be the cost? The Estimated Fiscal Impact has been rated near $0. Funds are already allocated assuming as certain level of participation, no matter where the students come from. Homeschool families pay taxes to support public schools but by not using most public school resources, homeschoolers save taxpayers approximately $10,000 per child.
Are Homeschool Academics any good? Home schoolers score higher than traditional students on standardized tests. Average: 85th percentile. In South Carolina, the mean SAT Score for homeschool students is 1569. The public school mean score is 1436. On Iowa Basic Skills, here were the percentiles for homeschool students: Grade 3 (78th), Grade 4(71st), Grade 5 (73rd), Grade 6 (77th), Grade 7 (67th), and Grade 8 (79th).
What about the most important questions; Accountability, Academics and Residency? According to 59-63-100 of the bill, the student must meet all "Eligibility" requirements except "Class Attendance" and "Enrollment."
The SCHSL Constitution Article VII "Student Eligibility Rules" has sixteen (16) Sections. One of them is Section 5, "School Enrollment and Attendance." Section 5 is the only section the from which the homeschooler would be exempt. All other eligibility requirements, including academics, will apply.
The other 15 sections would apply to the homeschool student: Age, Birth Certification, Academic Requirements, Semesters, Practice, Residency, Original Eligibility, Transfer, Guardianship, Foreign Exchange, Discipline, Amateur Status, Recruiting, Ineligibility, and Certificate of Eligibility and Other Forms.
The league's own rules provide a way to establish, maintain, and restore academic and other eligibility for homeschoolers.
As for "gaming the system," page A-13 of the Constitution of the SCHSL carries this phrase consistent with the bill: "Students must satisfy eligibility requirements in the semester preceding participation." It is stated differently in the bill but the meaning is the same: "A public school student who has been unable to maintain academic eligibility is ineligible to participate in interscholastic activities as a charter school student, Governor's school student, or homeschool student for the following semester."
As for restoring eligibility, the league rules call for a "Certificate of Eligibility" Form. The bill says virtually the same thing: "To establish eligibility for subsequent school years, the student's teacher shall certify by submitting an affidavit to the school district [League Office] that the student meets the relevant policies of the school [League] at which the student wishes to participate."
Florida High School Athletic Association forms required of Homeschooled athletes to insure academic and other eligibility are available upon request.