MathCounts Reinstates Homeschool Teams
In August 2010, MathCounts, a national enrichment and competition program dedicated to the advancement of math among middle schoolers, announced a policy change making homeschool teams ineligible for participation, although still allowing homeschool students to compete as individuals. In less than a week, MathCounts and Home School Legal Defense Association were able to come up with a temporary reprieve for homeschool teams.
For the past 20 years, small schools, homeschools, and virtual schools had been allowed to combine to form MathCounts teams.
On August 17, however, a MathCounts letter announced eligibility changes that would disallow homeschool teams. The letter explained that homeschoolers could still participate as individuals, that the changes were made due to problems in maintaining a fair policy for every participant, and that the eligibility rule was made after years of consideration by MathCounts staff, the board of directors, and affected constituencies, including members of the homeschooling community.
HSLDA and other members of the homeschooling community realized that the new eligibility changes would likely reduce the number of homeschoolers able to participate in state competitions, so they contacted MathCounts with their concerns and agreed to meet in person.
On August 20, HSLDA and a homeschool math team coach from Maryland met with the executive director and deputy director of MathCounts. They discussed how the new policy was harmful to homeschoolers, how MathCounts had no bias against homeschoolers, and how the program has faced problems in creating a fair policy for competitors. MathCounts agreed to allow homeschool teams who participated in last year’s competition to be grandfathered in to this year’s program.
HSLDA and MathCounts committed to ongoing meetings to find a solution to both sides of the problem. “[We] are encouraged by MathCounts’ willingness to meet and to consider the valid concerns homeschoolers have raised,” said HSLDA Staff Attorney and Director of Federal Relations William Estrada. “We look forward to working together with MathCounts and members of the homeschool community to find a workable long-term solution.”