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LTE: Loudoun Home-schooler Calls Tebow Bill Fair

The young writer points to a friend, and son of a former NFL pro, who would like to participate in public school sports.

Hello, 

My name is John LaRock. I am 11 years old, and live near Leesburg where my parents home-school me and my brothers and sisters. I love sports. My friend Jay (who is also home-schooled) and I play lots of football. We both would love to play in college and even in the pros someday. That may sound pretty far off but Jay’s dad, James Thrash, played in the NFL and Jay would like to follow in his footsteps.

Home-schooling is not for everybody. It takes a huge commitment of time, patience and other resources. (Thanks Mom and Dad).  Public schooling is not for everybody either, and yet those parents who choose a different educational environment for their children still pay hard earned dollars for public education. My Dad calls that “Taxation without Participation” and considers it to be unfair.

The Tebow Bill, House Bill 1442, passed this year in the Virginia House of Delegates 56-43. I was there to see the vote. It seemed like the people against it were making things up to make the bill look bad. Home-schooled kids are not going to steal other kids’ spots on a team; we would earn a spot that our parents have helped pay for. We are learning and studying just like public school kids and that is a fact. The grading standards vary in many public schools, so that is not a reason to exclude us. We are not sickly or disruptive, and we are welcome in public libraries, public events and we contribute more as we learn and interact with others. Tim Tebow is proof of what home-schooling can do for a person.

Please ask Senator Blevins to vote for this bill. It only asks that sports organizers like the VHSL not be allowed to discriminate against normal and hard-working children just because our parents teach us at home. If the law blocks this unfair practice it will cost nothing. VHSL would just change their unfair rules and stop excluding kids like me, and then local school boards could make the final decision as they see fit.

Senator Blevins is a former principal. I do hope he will listen to his heart and to reason and then use his experience and his vote to solve this and not be part of the group wants to keep me and my friend Jay, and 32,000 other home-school children out of public-school sports across the Commonwealth.

Thanks to News 4 in Washington for interviewing Jay and John (me) and letting people know what this is about.

John LaRock and Jay Thrash

Loudoun Parent February 13, 2013 at 03:03 PM
The school system is not a buffet for tax payers to pick and choose the parts they want to participate in. Life is full of hard choices and this obviously bright young man's parents should weigh the consequences of homeschooler their child. This should include school sports. If participation in school sports is important, then participation in all of high school should be required. There is a finite number of spaces on a school sports team and those spaces should go to the students attending the school. Many many people pay taxes in Virginia to pay for services that they do not use. Should our award winning teachers be made to go to these homeschooled children to teach lessons?
David A. LaRock February 13, 2013 at 03:47 PM
1. Yes schools are a buffet with many optional choices, some choose different languages, some sports, etc. It is that way for a good reason; children (and parents) are not all the same. 2. The is no reason that consequences need to be part of this issue. It really is a simple matter of whether or not a private organization, the VHSL, will be allowed to make it very difficult for local school districts to have the final say in what works for them. Virginia can prohibit this discriminatory situation, if they do not they are a party to it. 3. 'Public high school sports = all high school'... I disagree. The school system bends over backwards and incurs expenses to accommodate gifted and challenged children alike by providing in ways that are unique. It could also allow home-schooled children similar consideration with NO added expense. 4. "Finite spaces" yes, maybe and maybe not. But all paid for with everybody's tax dollars. Sports is all about competition so why a different attitude here? How about allowing the spaces to go to any child who meets a fair and balanced criteria set by local officials, not a private organization. 5. "pay for services that they do not use"...two wrongs don't make a right. 6. "teachers ... go to these home- schooled children," this is a silly question, no one has ever suggested this. Some sports like football require elaborate and expensive facilities and all require on site participation, as far as I know. Please support the Tebow Bill.
pete mckenna February 13, 2013 at 11:18 PM
David, Your argument is flawed in many ways. Everyone in Loudoun County earning a wage pays taxes and these tax revenues go to financing the county for the services they provide. Should taxpayers be allowed to opt out of taxes because they don't drive? Once my children are out of the school system should my taxes be cut? Obviously the answer is no. Playing for a school is a privilidge, not a right. Student athletes are held to the same requirements throughout the county with regard to attending class, lateness, grades, and behavior. There is no way to check on these requirements with a home schooled child. In school children must be in the school before 9:00 AM on the day of the event or they cannot participate. They do not get a period to rest until the school day is over. To allow home schooled children to participate on the high school team these rules would need to be thrown out. Why should a system which works be overhauled to allow a few children in the state a place on the team? Taking a choice to home school has consequences and one of those is participation on the high school team. This is not a right because taxes have been paid, it is a privilege of attending the school. My hope is that enough families with children attending schools make their wishes known and get this idea to go away once and for all
David A. LaRock February 14, 2013 at 02:24 AM
Pete, I think it's property taxes which pay for schools but that really isn't the issue I'm talking about. Whether or not property owners should pay for schools even if they do not have children attending is an interesting question you raise but again is not the issue. It is not true that all are held to the same standards. The grading standards of different schools within the VHSL probably varys considerably, but is anyone really checking? The rest of your ideas do not make sense to me so I will jump over to an example in Clarke County. They do not participate in VHSL and there are no problems. The difference is they cared enough to respect home schooled kids rights and just worked it out. By the way a friend told me just this evening that a Clarke Co. soccer team with two home-schooled children won a state championship. Good for them.
pete mckenna February 14, 2013 at 08:29 PM
The rest of my ideas do not make sense because you are wearing blinders to your cause. My son was removed from the swim team when his grades dropped, he lost a varsity letter and was not allowed to participate in High School sports until his grades improved. His grades were reported to the athletic director by the teacher on the day report cards were finalized. Who is going to report the grades of a home schooled child in a timely manner? Who will report a tardiness on a game day which will preclude participation? What school will be allowed to levy disciplinary action against a home schooled child for an action at home? I have never said or thought that home schooling is wrong but it is a choice which some parents make for their children and that choice has consequences. I attended a private high school, should I have had a choice about which team to play for , the private or public high school in my district? No, my parents made a choice and I had to live with it. I hope your son, and all home schooled children, have an opportunity to showcase their talents with private teams and institutions. They do not, however, deserve a place on the public high school team.
David A. LaRock February 14, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Pete, you can choose to accept injustice, that is your choice. I will continue to work to correct it. cheers
pete mckenna February 14, 2013 at 10:24 PM
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The so-called Tebow bill - legislation that would allow home-schooled children to play varsity sports for teams at public schools they choose not to attend - has been thrown for a loss in Virginia's Senate. There is no "injustice". You want, or your child wants, the best of both worlds. The ability to home school and the privilidge of playing for the local school which you have decided is unworthy of attending or not up to your standards. That is the injustice. Your argument is without merit. Read more: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/02/-tebow-bill-sacked-in-va-senate--85234.html#ixzz2KulzDbE5
Jonathan Weintraub February 22, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Mr. LaRock, It's nice to see that you are following in your father's activist political footsteps. You may want to investigate your heroes. Mainstream America finds Tim Tebow controversial. Jesus condemned public, showy prayer, the type that Tebow promotes. Mr. Tebow also pals around with groups that are obsessed with controlling other people's lives, groups that abuse religious conviction to justify ignorance and hatred. That ignorance is more difficult to maintain when you're exposed to diverse groups of people and have a chance to see for yourself what they are really like. Tim Tebow just cancelled or more likely delayed an appearance at a controversial Dallas megachurch, not because he thought there was anything wrong with Robert Jeffress's message, but because the media exposed the visit. It is no wonder that right-wing lobby groups and their candidates in the House and Senate have been backing this bill and promoting Tim Tebow as a spokesperson for a certain brand of home school lifestyle. http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2013/02/21/tim-tebow-wont-talk-unconditional-love-antigay-church
David A. LaRock February 22, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Jonathan, maybe someday we can have a friendly conversation and look at your ideas and some other ideas on what is going on with this. Open to that? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI
Jonathan Weintraub February 23, 2013 at 12:36 AM
Apologies to readers for this off-topic thread. David, Regarding friendly conversation, the "180" Movie link may be a good starting point. I think we could easily promote a broader community conversation. Since the movie opens with Nazi Germany, I'd recommend we discuss Himmler's phrase, "Menschentiere" (human animals). I believe I can get commitment from a church to host a forum. I'm sure you can secure a venue yourself. We need to have at least one in each district.
pete mckenna February 27, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Gentlemen, I can't stay away from this thread. How the film 180 entered into the conversation is only known to the person who posted it. I seriously wonder if the letter attributed to john LaRock was, in fact, written by John LaRock or his parent. I wonder if James Thrash is aware of his name being dropped in the letter to attempt to prove or strengthen a point. The James Thrash that I have met through youth sports does not come across as someone deeply involved in this issue and certainly has the means to send his children to public or private schools without regard to belief and which offer athletics. Sandy Koufax dealt with his religion by not playing on holy days. He made a choice and dealt with the consequences. Mr. LaRock has made a choice for his children's education but does not want to deal with the consequences. May we stay on point about monitoring home schooled children with regard to VHSL rules on participation please?! There is no way to level the playing field without weakening the standards by which Loudoun County students participate. Of course, we could make the home schooled child stay on pace with the subject matter presented in the schools, attend the schools on test day, and attend the school on game day. I am guessing that every one of the parents who home school would not agree to this approach.

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