Home School Court Report
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VOLUME X, NUMBER 5
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SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 1994
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Cover Story
1994: The Big Picture

Features
Religious Freedom Triumphs in New York

Congressional Action Program

Home Schooling & the Educational Arena

Across the States

National Center Reports

President’s Page

Home Schooling & the Educational Arena

Home Schooler Beats "Boss Bias"

Home School Legal Defense receives a large number of calls each week from home-schooling parents who face confrontations with local school officials, but a recent piece in the Idaho Statesman reveals a different threat: troubles with unsympathetic bosses.

Frank Peterson, a public school principal, decided to teach eight of his twelve children at home. Before he put his plan into action, Peterson told his bosses that he desired to "emphasize God in his children's education." After meeting with Peterson, school board officials removed the principal from his position at Paul Elementary School, where he had worked for six years. It appeared the officials had problems with Peterson's plan to teach religion to his own children. U.S. District Judge Harold Ryan ruled that the officials had violated Peterson's rights, and the jury awarded him $300,000 in damages. The school board did not say if it would appeal the decision.

If you find yourself in a similar situation with a public employer, contact HSLDA immediately. We will defend members who have trouble with public employers who object to home schooling and who discriminate against the member on the basis of his or her decision to home educate.

Farris Appointed to the Education Commission of the States

Virginia governor George Allen appointed Michael Farris to the Education Commission of the States July first, 1994. The Virginia Department of Education describes the Education Commission of the States (ECS) as "a non-profit, nationwide interstate compact formed in 1965 to help governors, state legislators, state education officials, and others develop policies to improve the quality of education at all levels." Forty-eight states participate in the ECS, along with the District of Columbia, American Soma, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

The governors serving the ECS each appoint commissioners to a statewide board which addresses education needs in that particular state. Working under the governor and the state Steering Committee, these commissioners discuss reform and help shape new educational policies. All statewide commissions meet several times yearly to discuss national goals and regional action.

The ECS has had a major role in furthering and defending the development of Outcome-Based Education reforms throughout our nation. Concerned educators in both the public and private sectors have worked to defeat OBE. Michael Farris is the first home school leader to be appointed to the Commission. He will "promote the rights of parents to direct the education of their children and emphasize the local control of public education."

NCAA Takes One Small Step Forward

As more and more home-educated children head off to college, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is beginning to take note of home-schooling movement. Because modern home schooling is a new phenomenon, home-schooled graduates are just beginning to enter college in substantial numbers. With close to 1,000,000 children now being educated at home, colleges are still struggling to find ways to determine their academic qualifications.

For some time now, Home School Legal Defense Association has been monitoring how the NCAA treats home schoolers. The NCAA has a hard job-keeping collegiate sports from degenerating into professional sports. One real problem that they face is the lowering of academic standards for college athletes. A well-trained gorilla would probably make a good fullback, but a gorilla should not play on a college team unless it can do algebra and trigonometry. The traditional guarantee of academic ability has been the high school grade point average (GPA) of the athlete. Home schools, however, usually do not compute GPA's.

At its April 1994 meeting, the NCAA Council decided that the NCAA will accept home schoolers, but they placed the burden of proving home-school success squarely on the student-athlete's shoulders. The Council voted to waive the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Requirements for home schoolers on a case-by-case basis. The Council specified that home schoolers should be subject to the same standards of academic preparation and evaluation as other students. This means that home schoolers must both cover a certain amount of material, and get reasonably good "grades" while doing so.

The NCAA requires the "Core Curriculum" outline below. The student should be able to demonstrate that he has completed, at the high school level, the equivalent of:

four years of English;
two years of mathematics (one algebra; one geometry);
two years of social science;
two years of natural or physical sciences; and
two years of additional academic courses.

These courses should be documented by some form of official correspondence such as an end-of-the-year review by a certified teacher.

Home-schooled students must also show the equivalent of good "grades." One component of this is the SAT or ACT test, which most college-bound students will take. A high score on either of these tests will make it easier to prove academic preparation, but will not eliminate the need to show that the student has completed the core curriculum. For public school students, a 2.000 grade point average ("C" work) plus a 900 on the SAT will satisfy the NCAA requirements. A 700 on the SAT means the public school students needs a GPA of at least 2.500. Therefore, a home-schooled student with combined SAT test scores of 900 or above must be able to document that his overall course work has been at or above the "C" average, while a student with SAT scores of 700 needs to show that he has done work closer to a "B" than a "C".

To demonstrate academic ability, the Council recommended that home-schooled students participate in programs that include standardized testing and evaluations whenever possible. Annual standardized testing would be helpful in this regard. Another way to document progress would be to have a professional teacher review the student's work at the completion of each course and prepare a document certifying the student's progress.

The NCAA has taken one small step forward by permitting home schoolers in on a case-by-case basis, but it still has a long way to go. There are too many fine scholars and athletes now studying at home for the NCAA to stick to its outdated policy for long. Home schools may not provide conventional GPA's, but appropriate substitute measures of the student's academic ability are available. As the number of home schoolers continues to rise, the NCAA will need to drop its case-by-case procedure and come up with clear guidelines that are fair for everyone. In the meantime, home schoolers will have to keep the pressure on to make collegiate athletics a level playing field for home schoolers.