Home school advocates are suffering buyer’s remorse and lately demand the right by legislation to select ala carte services from the public schools that they, by homeschooling, have pronounced unworthy to educate them.
Home school parents want the right by law for their home school students to play on the athletic teams of the schools that they have chosen to avoid.
Republican Delegate Rob Bell, from the 56th District, Albemarle County, authored what he called the “Tebow bill” to force every public school in the Commonwealth to allow homeschoolers to compete on public school teams even though they don’t attend the school.
The first fair concern is that Bell has widely characterized his proposal as the “Tebow bill” after the home-schooled Denver Bronco’s quarterback, Tim Tebow, who struck kneeling, fisted praying poses on the playing field when he scored.
Bell plays to that large fraction of the home schooling movement therefore that schools at home to avoid being taught, among other things, modern science that contradicts their fundamentalist beliefs that the Bible is to be understood literally and not as metaphor or allegory. Bell says he is a “committed supporter of home schooling.”
How ironic that we have the Delegate from Albemarle advocating homeschooling. No doubt he’d tell us he’s an “originalist,” and would have us all follow the founding fathers “original” intentions.
Bell’s historic neighbor, Thomas Jefferson, as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates headed a committee in 1776 to revise the laws of Virginia.
After the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson is known for his “bill for establishing religious freedom,” advocating a separation of church and state. Bell disregards that stance.
Another initiative Jefferson cared deeply about was his “bill for the more general diffusion of knowledge.” Jefferson was celebrated for his “Notes on the State of Virginia,” circulated in 1781. Among his “Notes,” Jefferson proposed to divide every county into small districts “and in each of them to establish a school for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic.” Some students supported by public expense would afterward either teach or receive scholarships to study at the College of William and Mary. In 1796, Virginia passed a bill supporting public education. Jefferson wanted more and wrote John Adams in 1813 that he hoped public schools would become “the keystone in the arch of our government.” Jefferson is oft-quoted for his sentiment that a nation that expects to be ignorant and free expects what never was and never will be.”
Bell who would be our Attorney General thinks he knows better than Jefferson what the Commonwealth needs. Bell disregards Jefferson’s stance on public education as well.
In the House of Delegates, Bell’s wrong-headed bill, in contravention of principles espoused lifelong by Jefferson, passed with the support of our local Delegates, Randy Minchew and Joe May.
We can rightly score them critically for supporting a religiously inspired initiative that is antagonistic to our public school system.
This bill also ignores the reality of what it means to play on or support a school team.
You have either played on school teams yourself in High School, or had a sibling who did, or a child or spouse who did, or you’ve coached a team in some sport or other. So you know how it really works.
Let us consider Loudoun Valley, a public high school in Purcellville. We could consider other Schools of course. This school’s mascot is a Viking. Book covers, jackets, t-shirts, sweatshirts, team uniforms are emblazoned with this symbol. Nor is it easy to criticize the school for academic performance. Valley satisfies the standards of learning and has quite respectable SAT scores and terrific placement for its graduates. The students attend class together and a fair number participate in softball, lacrosse, golf, volleyball, track, girls’ cross country and gymnastics teams that have all performed well in competition. They have a well-regarded marching band, the Marching Vikes, comprised of music students. One of the inspiring messages for competition at this school, as at any other, is their “school spirit” born of invocations by parents, teachers and students about how they all belong to this community of Viking students, how they know each other, care for each other, are friends, who study together, date, dance, share lunch, and attend extracurricular activities all together. Yet, some representative group from this community participates on the Viking teams, and they are supported by their friends on the team, cheer leaders who know them, student reporters who write about them, year book editors who memorialize their wins and losses, and their Viking fans.
Who wants to play on a team for a school that your parents or you believe is antithetical to your beliefs and unworthy of your attendance? But isn’t that what Bell and his cronies would foist on our public schools here in Loudoun and across the Commonwealth? I believe so.
Fortunate for us, what the House of Delegates passed was then killed in the Senate Committee on Education and Health on Valentine’s Day.
It should come as no surprise that State Senator Dick Black, a member of that Senate Committee, fought to pass Bell’s bad idea. So, the ill-considered pass by the House was intercepted at the line of scrimmage in the Senate. Before the next play, let your elected representatives know they are not representing you or our children when they introduce and fight for laws that Jefferson spent his life opposing.