A potential law would allow virtual and homeschooled students to participate in Kansas public school athletic teams and activities.
Opponents of the bill, however, including the state’s high school athletics governing body, say the measure would undermine the academic component of school participation in activities and competitions.
Members of the House Committee on the K-12 Education Budget held a HB 2030 hearing on Tuesday. This allows nonpublic school students and part-time public school students to participate in all activities regulated by the Kansas State High School Activities Association.
In the context of the bill, “nonpublic school” refers to students enrolled in alternatives to traditional, publicly funded education, such as homeschooling, virtual schools, and non-accredited private schools.
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Another bill passed last year allows families to enroll their children in any school district in Kansas, regardless of where they reside, although there are space restrictions for non-natives affected by this year’s proposed bill. Public school students must live within district boundaries to play or participate. all school activities.
Local school districts and KSHSAA are prohibited from creating policies prohibiting such participation, but schools are not required to pay activity fees or enroll in certain classes that are also required of public school participants. can be requested from students.
The bill is back in commission after an unsuccessful attempt to pass legislation to open public school sports teams and activities to nonpublic students.
According to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, 25 states allow homeschooling students to participate in interschool activities, five of which require local approval.
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Proponents say current Kansas high school sports policy discriminates against private school taxpayers
John Eck, a parent of a Kansas high school student, told the committee that he and his wife had decided to enroll their daughter part-time only in the first semester because of their desire to enroll their daughter in high school part-time. said he decided. Higher academic, behavioral, and ethical standards than we saw in her daughter’s high school.
However, because my daughter attended a part-time public school, she could play for a public school team as a member of KSHSAA or be a non-affiliated student who is prohibited even if she is partially enrolled in a public school. Nor was he allowed to play in the homeschool league.
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“Current law allows for part-time students, but these students are denied the rights afforded to homeschool and public school students,” Eck said. HB 2030 will get these sports leagues right and restore resolve to tax paying parents.”
Philip Hoppe, a Reverend Colby who homeschools seven children with his wife, told the commission online that he used to live in Minnesota.
“I know it can be done, and it’s relatively easy to do,” Hoppe said.
Especially in northwest Kansas, it can be difficult to find activities for older kids, Hoppe says. Most communities do not have recreational leagues at the level of many larger communities in eastern Kansas, and most children and their teens attend school through school.
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He pointed to Weskan High School, a school near the border with Colorado, which has moved away from full KSHSAA affiliation in recent years as part of an effort to be able to include homeschooled students. Weskan High is now what KSHSAA considers to be an “approved school”. This means that although not a member of the organization, he is allowed to compete with KSHSAA schools in non-championship events.
“This is a good bill for society and our community because we don’t want people who don’t participate in public education and people who keep too much distance from each other,” Hoppe said.
Opponents say HB 2030 undermines foundation of high academic standards in Kansas public schools
KSHSAA executive director Bill Fafric said the organization and its 759 member schools oppose the bill because it undermines the organization’s goal of simultaneously promoting active participation and learning.
Currently, students must meet six eligibility criteria (scholarship and academics, admission, age, semesters attended, citizenship, and transfer status) to participate in KSHSAA activities. Specifically for academics, students must enroll in and pass at least five classes to qualify.
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“The goals of the eligibility criteria are really two-fold,” says Faflick. “The first is to provide accountability to students at a basic level. This promotes positive behavior while fostering student achievement, academically, social-emotional skills and positive school and assist students through the development of community culture.
“The second is to support a level playing field where students on the same team and those playing against opposing teams are held to the same minimum standards,” he continued.
Participation in physical activity and activities is some of the best motivation for students to study and do well in school, especially for those who are seen as unlikely to graduate, Fafric said. .
The bill would undermine KSHSAA’s ability to monitor academic standards and minimum standards, if any, in nonpublic schools, he said. Under the bill’s provisions, there is nothing to stop public school students who are failing in class from dropping out and continuing to participate in activities.
“We don’t want that for any of our students,” Fafric said. “We want our children to be finishers, and as a result of the opportunity to be taught and coached in schools by sponsors who want the same, our children are ready. I hope that.”
Others, such as Deena Horst, who represents the Kansas Board of Education, said HB 2030 would undermine the sense of community fostered around high school sports.
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“Having parents or grandparents who are taxpayers is not the same as being part of a student body that attends all day long with others in your community and your activities.
The bill, as written, also does not currently address the issue of competitive teams holding tryouts, or what happens if nonpublic school students fail tryouts.
Kansas HB 2030 Debate Turns to Criticizing Public Schools
Members of the Republican Commission said the bill would not be effective, especially at a time when many Kansas students scored at the lowest two of the four levels in annual state assessments and scored lower in national assessments. He was sharply skeptical of claims that it would undermine high school academic performance.
In contrast, homeschooled students do not receive state evaluation, and given the decentralized approach to education homeschooled families have, it is difficult to assess their academic performance as a group.
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Wichita Republican Rep. Susan Estes said she is concerned that KSHSAA’s current policy is too broad and leaves little room for students who aren’t willing to abuse the system.
“We pay too much attention to villains, which can have the unintended consequence of punishing students (doing the right thing),” Estes said.
Rep. Christy Williams, an Augusta Republican who chairs the committee, said she was disappointed that some Kansas children were barred from attending KSHSAA events.
“Talking about diversity and inclusion and the needs of different children, for me, is the exact opposite of that,” Williams said. .”
The committee is expected to work on the bill in the coming weeks, which could be passed by the House of Representatives.
Rafael Garcia is an educational reporter for Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone. 785-289-5325. Follow @byRafaelGarcia on Twitter.