ANNAPOLIS – The star quarterback could skip class and still spiral the pigskin for his local public high school if a Garrett County Republican wins his fight for home schoolers’ rights.
The bill Delegate George C. Edwards introduced Wednesday would allow home- schooled students in Maryland to participate in public school extra-curricular activities – from drama to band to choir to cross-country – as long as their involvement doesn’t prevent public school students from taking part.
Students should be able to enjoy the extras without following the school’s curricular plans, Edwards said, adding he introduced it at the request of constituents who teach their children at home for religious reasons.
Students not enrolled in a school are currently prohibited from involvement under state law and athletic rules.
“That’s only sensible given the requirements for supervision and acknowledgement that the youngster is part of the school’s community,” said Brian Porter, spokesman for Montgomery County Schools.
One home schooling advocate is withholding support for the bill until his group scrutinizes its costs.
“We’re interested in any bill that would extend options to home-schooled students,” said Dave Smith, deputy director of the Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators.
However, he said, extending benefits to home-schooled students might mean the bill would also apply to private school students, a fact that could drive up costs.
“If they’re going to approve legislation that will fund 10 percent of the (student) population’s enrollment in extra-curriculars, we’ll have to see” what it’s going to take, Smith said.
One mother of seven home-schooled children in Suitland isn’t quite as reserved.
“Wow, that’s wonderful,” Wendy Magloire said.
Athletes participating in recreational leagues or county-sponsored sports can’t have the same influence with collegiate recruiters for scholarships, said Magloire, a member of Christian Home Educators. “Parents with older children will be thrilled if it succeeds.”
But one athletic director fears the bill might increase bickering over playing time.
In Howard County, where 2 percent of the students are home-schooled, sports coordinator Don Disney feared the biggest impact will be with regard to who plays and who doesn’t, even though the bill intends to give preference to the public school’s students.
“Either way, someone’s going to be disappointed,” Disney said, while the teams won’t improve.
“As to whether we’ll have more teams in the Top-10, I see no impact whatsoever,” he said, if it passes.
The bill has been assigned to the Ways and Means Committee and no hearing has yet been set.