County Proposal: Start School Two Weeks Earlier

Albemarle County is thinking about starting the school year two weeks earlier, Brandon Shulleeta writes in the Daily Progress. It’s still at the just-tossing-around-ideas phase, but the thinking is that this way students could take SOLs and winter exams before they leave for winter break, rather than after. It’s also possible that school would get out two weeks earlier for summer break. This year’s calendar had students starting school on August 25 and has them finishing up on June 10, so the proposal is presumably to have kids go back to school around August 11, and possibly get out as early as May 27. The idea came out of a discussion held by a panel brought together to consider the topic today. School board members agreed with the notion that any change should be announced at least a year in advance, so any changes likely wouldn’t come prior to the 2012-2013 school year.

65 Responses to “County Proposal: Start School Two Weeks Earlier”


  • Just my humble, but NO FRACKING WAY.

  • If we’re going to make a change, let’s look at year-round school. This seems a timid twitch rather than a look at what would best serve the students.

    We’re not 90% agrarian and we don’t need our children’s summer labor at home to make sure the family is fed for the year. Also, with local food & school gardens gaining ground as ideas to implement, having students in school to execute those ideas while things are, you know, growing, would enhance that whole movement.

    Waldo: I’m pretty sure you mean “June 10” rather than “Just 10” for the school end date…

  • Oops—thanks, Barbara. I’ve got that fixed now. :)

  • I grew up in an agrarian area, so we had a similar schedule–start school mid-August, out by Memorial Day. Most of the planting is done much earlier, the harvest much later. The only popular agrarian summer job I remember is corn detassling.

    It was nice for early June vacations in the northeast and upper mid-atlantic, where school often goes through June. Early June is also a pleasant time to go camping in the mountains here, whereas days get pretty hot by late June.

    It drives me nuts that the pools have limited (or no) hours here during the rather hot weekdays of early June due to kids being in school. Of course, the same thing happens in Aug/September and it’s much hotter then.

    I don’t really care either way. We’ll likely homeschool. Our schedule will remain flexible with year-round learning and an ability to travel whenever we like.

  • Aren’t the SOLs usually taken in May? Or are some taken in January?

    It’s my understanding from talking to Albemarle parents, and from my own experiences working in a public school system in another Virginia locality, that teachers don’t teach after the SOLs. They fill up the time with videos or maybe some sort of field day. So if they’re going to make school just about SOL prep, might as well let the kids out a little earlier and start a little earlier. On the other hand, what happened to “summer” break?

    I agree with Barbara. Year-round school is starting to sound better and better.

  • Jocelyn, I’m with you: we’re planning to begin homeschooling our older child, but our younger child will still be in elem. school. If they start school two weeks earlier in August, I’m tempted to just skip those two weeks, start her at the “regular” time, and essentially dare them to penalize us. she’s a smart child, learns quickly, and we spend a lot of time learning in the summer anyway. i strongly suspect she wouldn’t miss much if she did miss the first two weeks of school.

  • I keep, keep, keep hearkening back to my two grandmothers: one left school in the third grade: and successfully ran several businesses with her husband and died with money to give to her children, and was generous to her neighbors all her life; the other actually procured a HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA (tuition was involved) and died with money to give to her children and was generous to her neighbors.

    Two very different life paths: we used to have room for both. We used to value them both.

    Now we have college prep for all. What a waste of time. Many children are ready to start being adults before turning 22.

    We need more differentiation in schools. Children can learn more — faster — than we give them credit for. Beyond which, we have many, many, many more either single parents or two earner parents than we used to have. It is an increasing luxury to have a parent at home to attend to children during the summer. I’ve made the sacrifice: it has and will continue to cost me. My job is to make sure it doesn’t cost my individual child in the future. I’m doing that job: but it’s challenging.

    So. Do our schools (supported by the taxpayers, i.e. all of us) react to the reality of the single or both working parent(s) paradigm, and become whole year entities? Or do we all continue to live on the farms of a century past and pretend it ain’t so?

  • @BM. Lots of talk but I did not read an actual solution or position.

    Lead, follow or get out of way…

  • I think Barbara’s actual solution or position is year-round schooling–it’s pretty clear from her first post.

  • @Megan–

    If you are on a 4×4 block schedule (as the Albemarle high schools are) you finish some of your courses at the semester break. The state offers end of course tests in the winter for students on a 4×4, so there are SOL tests in Albemarle in January (or December if this proposal goes through).

    What I find interesting is that Charlottesville and Albemarle have been on matching calendars for the last 10 years or so. I would think that this might put an end to that collaboration, especially since Charlottesville’s ability to open before Labor Day is usually granted as a special dispensation by the General Assembly…

  • @claire, everything but the paying for it. Teacher are already in arms about their pay and benefits. Taking away that 2 month summer vacation will not help much.

    With 5 kids ranging from 16-38 having attended both private and public schools I can say that in my experience, I DO NOT have a solution. Curiously though, it has been the public school educated children that have completed college, although it is the non college educated child married to a teacher that makes the most income.

    I am in favor of performance based testing of teachers, but find that to be extremely expensive to do correctly, and it leaves the teacher in the hands of the kids.

    And while summer time is not agrarian, it is a time when all of our kids have worked to make enough to put gas in their cars or pay for their groceries at college, while we pay for the balance.

    Sometimes I wonder what might occur if we went back to the basics. Get rid of classes like “fashion merchandising” and put more into math, reading, science. Kids that do not wish this track can be slotted into VO-tecs earlier and stronger.

    I wonder what it is that separated me at 18 having to be in a HS classroom size of 24, and me at 18, three months later sitting in an auditorium of 300 for Econ, the basketball arena of 1000 for english, and the theater of 600 for psychology.

    If you dont want to learn, go out and earn…

  • This is a really complicated issue. I hear, or at least I think I hear, what Barbara is saying about working parents needing help through the summer; I know a lot of parents who sign their kids up for (sometimes spendy) summer camps straight through the summer because how else are they going to go to work? I think that speaks to a childcare problem in this country, but I’m not sure that stretching the school year out across the whole year is the way to solve a childcare problem. I’d be more interested in some other kind of program that allowed unstructured time, independent learning, and opportunities for play than just more school. I’m one of those people who thinks that lightly structured, mostly independent, and non-institutional learning is better than what happens in schools today.

    I know that some high school kids and parents like the idea of an earlier start because it’s a pain to have exams (whether SOL or regular) right after the holiday break–kids lose a lot of the information they crammed into their heads, and thus SOL performance suffers, or kids spend their holiday break studying, which is a bummer. But since I’ve lately been hatin’ hard on the whole testing-oriented nature of institutional schooling, I’m hardly in favor of changing the schedule of thousands of high school, middle, and elementary school students to accommodate this one (flawed) aspect of schooling. Tail wagging the dog, if you ask me.

    danpri, i’ve always been sympathetic to the idea that we need more serious vo-tech training programs that begins much earlier. I don’t like the idea of slotting kids at birth for their future track, but I also think it’s not working to pretend that every child in America has the interest in and the aptitude for a college education. PLUS there’s the problem that almost all the good jobs that one could get with a vo-tech or blue-collar-labor background have been shipped elsewhere. So that’s a puzzle as well. If America were still a country that actually made tangible things and thus offered stable, well-paid employment in the manufacturing sector, I’d feel better about encouraging a significant portion of the population to forget about college and just get a job.

  • Not to derail, but I just have to point out that cvillenews.com often has some of the most useful, in-depth, informed discussion anywhere in town. I post some little one-paragraph thing, and then sit back and learn stuff from y’all. This here is a prime example.

  • To quote from Cecil- “PLUS there’s the problem that almost all the good jobs that one could get with a vo-tech or blue-collar-labor background have been shipped elsewhere. So that’s a puzzle as well. If America were still a country that actually made tangible things and thus offered stable, well-paid employment in the manufacturing sector, I’d feel better about encouraging a significant portion of the population to forget about college and just get a job.”

    I’m not sure that’s entirely true which means I actually agree much more with your last sentence. There is still a need for auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians and the like. And there will be for the foreseeable future. We’d be doing students/people with an interest in and/or aptitude for those kinds of professions a service if we steered them into good training and certification programs instead of college.

  • We still have cars that need maintenance, homes that need to be built and maintained, roads that need to be built and maintained, restaurants that need chefs, barber shops that need barbers, trains and trucks and ships to move lots of things around, entertainments of a wide variety that need gaffers and photographers and sound technicians and costumers and a zillion other technical and creative types, telephones and computers that programming and maintenance; we still have hundreds of thousands of small businesses that sell donuts and massages and clothes and art and stuff. Most of the above endeavours don’t need a college education per se, just really useful tuition delivered sooner.

    Did a little googling (love that that’s become a noun and a verb): we send our American children to school for 180 days per year: Europe does 190-200 days per year. European children get six to twelve months more tuition by the time they graduate high school than American children do. No wonder we lag. We teach less and less specifically.

    So: start two weeks earlier & keep the end date the same? Have ten months of school per year with two four week vacation periods? Go year round?

    I don’t know. I do know that we’re not truly serving our children, our families, and (wave flag here) our nation with what we’re doing now. So when I see a suggestion predicated on passing standardized tests better, I overwhelmingly believe that we’re missing the real opportunity.

  • I do agree with Chris and Barbara re: the multitude of kinds of work that need to get done, and done well, and I feel that there should be no shame in pursuing a career in costuming and maintaining and repairing and designing and etc. I have a whole rant about the disappearance of manufacturing jobs (replaced by service-sector jobs) and what that has done to the middle class in this country, but I’ll bore people with that some other time. But to be clear, I think the college-track is hugely overrated and the expectation that everyone go to college hurts more than it helps.

    I just don’t think that MORE elementary and secondary schooling, in terms of total days/hours, is the answer to the problem of not enough training/certification in useful vo-tech careers. I would focus rather on how and what we teach, and what else kids could be doing instead of sitting in classrooms.

  • Do your kids a favor, don’t homeschool.

  • @ Evan S: let’s see, I could take the one-sentence advice of someone I don’t know at all on an online forum.

    Or I could base my decision on what I’ve observed over six years of institutional schooling (helping out in the classroom, looking at the instructional materials, meeting with teachers, going on field trips, etc), what I know about my child, and what I’ve observed among friends who homeschool (what their kids do, how they behave, etc), and what I’ve read about education in America generally.

    I’ll let you know what I decide!

  • I had dozens of homeschooled friends as a kid, many of whom now homeschool their own kids. Though it’s not for all kids, and not for all parents, I think it can be wonderful. For a kid who is an autodidact, and a parent who has the time and the interest, homeschooling can really set a kid free.

  • The only thing in homeschooling that appears to be missing at some level is the ability for team competition, be it debate or athletics.

    I would suspect that there are enough home schooled students to at least compete in the low divisions of small private school such as Tandem and the like.

    @evan, perhaps you might expand a touch. Those with some posting history whom are known for their tendencies get a bit more lee way. Otherwise it seems like trolling.

  • The only thing in homeschooling that appears to be missing at some level is the ability for team competition, be it debate or athletics.

    I don’t know, Dan—I think there are pretty good alternatives, for the most part. Homeschooled kids can play soccer via SOCA, football via Thomas Jefferson Youth Football League, and baseball via Charlottesville/Albemarle Little League. When I think of all of the organized sports that I participated in as a kid, I don’t think that any of them were through school.

    That said, I’m not aware of alternatives for things like debate or quiz bowl. It strikes me as unfair that homeschooled kids cannot take part of school teams. When Albemarle opened up a la carte classes to homeschooled kids in the mid-nineties, my wife was the first kid in the county to take advantage of that, taking Spanish and chemistry (IIRC). To the best of my knowledge, it’s not possible for homeschooled kids to participate in after-school team competition, which I don’t think is fair. I don’t know of any reason why the current arrangement is good or necessary.

  • Disagree. And I know how often I do that with you….

    Big difference between the club based sports practicing twice a week and daily school based sports traveling by bus without parents.

    I have coached bot club and high school and had kids do both. The HS experience is very very different.

  • Well, actually, we’re agreeing—you’ve just moved the goalposts. :) We agree that there’s opportunity for competition in team activities, but your new point is that club-based activities lack the rigor of school-based daily activities. I’ve never participated in school-based daily activities, so I don’t have any personal experience there, but certainly imagine that you’re right about that.

  • Rob Bell introduced a piece of legislation (methinks) that would have allowed homeschooled kids access to team sports in whatever district school they would be attending. I think it died. I know that athletic directors at local high schools opposed it. But honestly, I think it’s a matter of when, not if, this happens. Homeschooled population is growing, and parents are getting more forthright about lobbying for their homeschooled kids. Personally, I don’t care about the team sports as much as I do about other clubs and extracurriculars. But even there, the homeschool/independent learning community around offers a LOT of stuff.

  • the problem with Bell’s bill wasn’t about bona fide, legitimate homeschoolers.

    It was about athletes who are enrolled in a school, get in serious enough disciplinary or academic trouble to no longer be eligible to compete, and then unenroll to “homeschool” and immediately become re-eligible because there can’t be the same GPA and disciplinary standards because homeschoolers don’t suspend their kids or calculate GPAs.

    athletic directors and principals opposed it because it would further pressure them to allow athletes special dispensations to keep them enrolled in the school rather than issuing a consequence and having the student “homeschool” at auntie’s house in the next district.

    I’m not sure how many credits one has to take to count toward VHSL eligibility requirements.

  • Bell’s bill was HB2395. It never made it out of committee. I didn’t know about the matter of students dropping out to faux-homeschool—I can see how that complicates things.

  • I thought that the part of Bell’s bill that required “evidence of progress for two years” as a homeschooler was the fail-safe against the scenario former teacher describes. As in, the kids former teacher describes would have to homeschool for two years before they could jump back into high school athletics. which isn’t likely.

  • Not so much the rigor as the camaraderie that develops. In many ways, the club scene is more demanding than the HS sports. Also, HS sports pretty much give you the weekend off, unlike club.

    Funny part of this was that when the boys were in afternoon HS sports, they did better academically. Perhaps they were forced to pay attention and knew they could not let things slide.

  • I agree about the camaraderie that comes from non-class activities. I felt like that was the most important part of my high school years (and to some extent my college years, for that matter). I never participated in debate club or the like but I played sports non-stop. It forced me to have more of a structure, allowed ability to waste time and made me a part of a group that I wanted to remain a part of. I had to make sure my grades were good to do that.

    I think the year long school thing _might_ be a reasonable idea to pursue but it doesn’t seem like it’d get traction very quickly. People are sort of resistent to change and that seems like it’d be a big one.

  • @Claire–

    I’m not sure. That piece of it was not in the original language that was brought to my attention when we discussed it with VHSL in a planning meeting.

    I tend to feel that high school athletics are for the students of the school they represent. If a community wants to have homeschoolers play tax-payer supported sports, then that community should figure out a way to include them, but I don’t believe it is appropriate for the high school to do that.

  • That language is in the bill as it was written and submitted in the state assembly; you can check Waldo’s other site, Richmond Sunlight, to read the bill. It seems to have all the checks and balances against the faux-homeschooling abuses you said you feared.

    The idea that h.s. athletics are “for” the students in that h.s. is certainly familiar to all of us, and because it’s familiar, it therefore seems logical. The status quo always seems like it was the only logical thing that could possibly have evolved. Perhaps it would be helpful to picture a homeschooled kid competing on his or her district’s h.s. team.

    So let’s picture a girl living in the Monticello High School district. Let’s say that she’s homeschooled most of her life (all the elementary years) but she’s done some partial enrollment in the public system during the middle and high school years. Let’s say she swims competitively. Now, she’s going to know kids at MHS; she lives in the district, so she lives in a neighborhood or area where there are kids who go to MHS. She’s friends with some of them. They know her. Plus, if she’s good enough to get on the MHS swim team, she’s swimming year round and competing for a club team in the summers (the same will be true of any sport–homeschooled soccer players who are any good are doing SOCA travel leagues, lax players are playing club lax, etc.). So she knows even more kids through her year-round and summer swimming. So while it’s true that she’s not a student at MHS, she is a member of many of the larger communities that all the students at MHS inhabit: neighborhood, club teams, possibly also church, Girl Scouts, etc.

    So if she were to try out for and be good enough to get a spot on MHS’s swim team, a team composed of kids who mostly know her already, swimming for a school where her neighbor friends and other kids she knows attend, where MHS parents are likely to know her (from neighborhood stuff and from the club competition scene), I would suggest that it wouldn’t be all that weird or inappropriate for her to swim for the MHS team. It’s not like she parachuted in from Mars, a total outsider. She’s INSIDE most of the communities the MHS swimmers belong to, but for one.

    So I’m picturing this scenario, and what I see is a young person competing alongside friends/neighbors/club teammates, and it just doesn’t look that weird to me. I’m trying to see the problem: MHS swim team supporters, who know her from the club scene and maybe from their own neighborhood, they feel like they can’t possibly cheer for her? Would they look at her and say to themselves “but she’s not taking Algebra II and World History at MHS, so there’s no way I can be happy that she set a pool record in the 50m backstroke”–is that it? They see a girl who goes to all the practices and team meetings and who knows their own kids from club swimming and from the neighborhood and they somehow don’t feel “represented” by her or that she doesn’t “belong”? Is the problem that her own teammates–who see her at all the practices etc.–somehow cannot see her as a teammate?

    I guess there will be school-schooled people who say a homeschooled kid is “not one of us.” But I would say to that that we ALWAYS have choices about how we define “one of us.” I think back over the different ways that definitions of “one of us” have been limited in the past, and that have changed now to be more inclusive. It could be the same thing with homeschooled kids; it just requires an adjustment in how you define who “we” are.

  • Claire–

    I may have seen a copy that was provided prior to submission, and therefore, the language may have been changed after our input.

    I’m not opposed to homeschoolers playing sports at the taxpayers’ expense–except that funding for schools is based in part on ADM, which is based on enrollment, so bringing athletes in who aren’t counted in the enrollment numbers further taxes already sparse resources. If a locality wants to provide homeschoolers with a way to compete with their public-schooled peers (and their private school ones, for that matter), the easy solution is to expand Parks and Rec programs to include more formal, competitive sports.

    Or, churches can step in and fill the void–there are thriving church-affiliated sports programs all over the place. Why not here?

  • I’m not opposed to homeschoolers playing sports at the taxpayers’ expense–except that funding for schools is based in part on ADM, which is based on enrollment, so bringing athletes in who aren’t counted in the enrollment numbers further taxes already sparse resources. If a locality wants to provide homeschoolers with a way to compete with their public-schooled peers (and their private school ones, for that matter), the easy solution is to expand Parks and Rec programs to include more formal, competitive sports.

    Nuh-uh, that’s not at all fair. My family pays into the local school system by paying property taxes, sales tax, etc.—the idea that somehow my (hypothetical) children don’t get to get the benefits of a public education because it’s some kind of an all-or-nothing proposition just isn’t supported by public policy or, indeed, sound logic. After all, my children can selectively attend classes while being homeschooled—I’m aware of no reason why that should be any different for after-school team activities. The easy solution is not to engage in a really substantial expansion of comparatively diminished municipal sports programs through the park system. Clearly the easy solution is to simply let home schoolers onto public school teams.

    How localities get funding from the state is simply not my problem. Most of the funding for schools comes from local taxes anyhow, and homeschooled kids are already from families that are paying a great deal into the education system while demanding nothing—the cost of participating in team activities still leaves homeschooled kids as a source of profit for localities.

    It’s possible that there’s some reason why it’s a bad idea for homeschooled kids to participate in after-school team activities, but I’m not seeing that reason here.

  • Waldo–

    According to this:

    http://www.vahomeschoolers.org/law/

    part-time enrolled homeschoolers count toward ADM, so when the law passed to allow them access, it was backed up by state funding. In some localities, the state funding is a more substantial part of the school funding package.

  • Former Teacher, what “law passed to allow them access”? Access to what–to sports teams or to partial enrollment?

    So far on this thread you’ve raised (1) the spectre of faux-home-schooled kids abusing the system in order to get onto sports teams after having been kicked out of school. You had to drop that spectre, though, when it was pointed out that the bill (which you could have checked out, even if you did hear an earlier version of it at some point) included failsafes against the abuse. Then, you moved on to (2) “high school athletics are for the students of the school they represent,” but we haven’t yet seen any unpacking of the reasoning behind that claim. Now we’re seeing (3) it costs too much to bring on a homeschooled student (whose parents are paying the same property and other taxes to support public education as an enrolled student’s parents). Whenever I see folks toss out a claim, drop it in the face of critique and grab the next handy claim, repeat cycle, repeat cycle, I usually figure these folks Just. Don’t. Like. The. Idea, for some unplumbed, usually emotional reasons.

    I mean, Bell’s bill even included this: “Reasonable fees may be charged to such students to cover the costs of participation in such interscholastic programs.” So if there is a burden on the school for allowing the child of taxpaying parents to participate on a team, the reasonable fee could make up that difference.

    It kind of sounds like what’s underneath your resistance is that you just don’t want Them on Your teams.

  • Two questions:

    1. under the current rules, may the Albemarle-County residing child who goes to a private school avail themselves of the sporting and academic opportunities at a public school on a _a la carte_ basis, just like the home-schooled student?

    2. if so, are his/her privileges restricted to the appropriate school in her/his school district?

  • walt r., just to clarify, the home-schooled student cannot currently avail him/herself of the sporting opportunities at a public school on any basis at all.

  • You may make an argument for a home schooled kid participating on a school team that doesn’t cut players (i.e. football, wrestling) but I would have a real problem if a homeschooled kid replace a kid that actually attends the school on a roster.

    This becomes a challenge for school officials in disiplining athletes. If a home school kid and a public school kid get into a fight, the public school kid gets suspended and documented on his school record. What happens to the home-schooled kid?

  • Thanks, Claire. My eyes must have crossed while reading the back-and-forth.

    I suppose the question then is:

    SHOULD the Albemarle-County residing child who goes to a private school avail themselves of the sporting and academic opportunities at a public school on a _a la carte_ basis, along with prospective home-schooled children?

  • It is amazing how much emotion surrounds issues concerning home schooling. I think it would be interesting if Evan S. could tell us more about why he opposes home schooling.

  • @Waldo. Sadly, you are thinking in an innocent and honest way. Thinking that others will also do the right thing. The reality is that almost instantly this will be used by high end athletes/coaches as a way to get around being “stuck” in one school vs. another. Currently many rules govern a students ability to play because of this. Try and transfer from a private to a public and you have to sit out the sport for a season. Its to stop coaches from recruiting players.

    My thought was that the homeschooled kids should have to organize everything on their own but should be allowed to play schools.

    Remember the High School “diploma mills” that were so infamous a few years back? Same thing. They started a small “private school” that had nothing but top end basketball players. Players received good grades then showed up to college thinking they would be one and done. NCAA jumped on that pretty quick.

  • danpri, I didn’t know that the sit-out rule applied at the high school level; I knew of the NCAA rule that said if you transfer you sit out. Does that mean if my kid attends STAB for one year and plays football and then for sophomore year I start sending him to CHS, he has to sit a year? I’m kind of surprised to hear that.

    just to clarify, before everyone starts to mark me down as that maniac who is obsessed with allowing homeschooled kids to play on high school teams–I’m not. my soon-to-be homeschooled kid is not good enough or interested in playing high school sports. but i am very interested in the conversation about the issue, because it’s revealing. I think it’s interesting that former teacher hasn’t really satisfactorily explained what exactly is so “wrong” about having homeschooled kids playing high school sports. i was rather proud of my hypothetical but highly realistic scenario (above) and really did want to what exactly was objectionable about it. i agree with gail that homeschooling seems to generate a lot of heat as a topic of discussion.

    AND, just b/c Walt R asked, I will say that I don’t think that private school kids should be able to switch-hit, so to speak, and play for public team while attending their private school. what is the difference b/w that scenario and the homeschooled kid scenario, Walt R will probably ask; the difference, imo, is that the private school kid has access to interscholastic competition (assuming we mean private schools that have their own teams). the homeschooled kid has no access to interscholastic competition. so allowing the homeschooled kid access to interscholastic competition is different. (i’m keeping very much in mind that the parents of the homeschooled kid have paid taxes to support the public district that they live in, so it’s not like they’re mooching.)

  • danpri is correct. There is a sit out rule for high school sports. So, if you play a sport at CHS and then transfer to St. Anne’s (for example), you will not be able to compete for St. Anne’s for the fist year.

  • I think it is a VHSL rule, and therefore not applicable to private schools.

    As soon as we start allowing homeschooled students to be supported by taxpayers $$ for athletics you can bet the private schools will demand a part of that change.

    As too letting a private school/home school student play for a high school team the problem arises in accountability. The AD/Principal has the final say so on athletics in a high school. Not in this case. Also potential liabilities. Insurance would cover students on bus rides but no one else, and school are very tight on non students riding school busses.

    And you can count on someone getting litigious on this. It is a safe bet that a VERY VERY high majority of student home schooled students do so with religious reasons. So, it is not too long before someone is having issues with the separation of church and state. Betcha it would be a liberal… :-)

  • Interesting about the high school sit-out rule. I guess that shows how college-ified high school sports have gotten.

    I think that all the issues/questions about accountability, funding, etc., are problems that will eventually be worked out rather than barriers that are going to prevent this from happening. Bell’s bill didn’t go anywhere, but like I said earlier, I think it’s a matter of when, not if. The homie population is growing (and FWIW, at least locally, I would NOT agree that a “VERY VERY high majority” of homie students are homied for religious reasons–maybe nationally, but not locally). With a growing population, you’re going to get more parents questioning the status quo, and lobbying for what they think are their rights and interests.

  • Try 80 %….

  • “Walt R will probably ask; the difference, imo, is that the private school kid has access to interscholastic competition (assuming we mean private schools that have their own teams)”

    Well that’s the thought experiment I had in mind.

    Both private school and home-schooled kids have parents that pay into the public system via taxes.

    What if the kid at the private school is interested in a sport not supported by the private school? Should s/he then have access to the public school opportunity?

    What if the private school kid doesn’t make the team at the private school. Should s/he then have access to the public school opportunity?

    What’s the role of school districts in all of this?

  • “the homeschooled kid has no access to interscholastic competition.”

    Couldn’t that kid join one of the local club teams?

  • If the private school kid wants to play a sport not offered by her private school, well then maybe she SHOULD be allowed to play it at the public school, assuming she meets all the criteria the public school kids do. Her parents are paying taxes that support MHS. Maybe she’s charged an extra fee to cover whatever financial difference is left over. Picture it. Would the world end if Tandem girl swam for MHS? I think it probably would not.

    And maybe the private school kid who isn’t good enough to get on STAB’s lax team tries out for and gets a spot on Albemarle’s lax team–why not? Assuming he meets all the other criteria, pays the supplemental fee, yadda yadda, why not? Walt R., you’re posing these questions as if they are show-stoppers, like we’d be aghast at the possibility that Tandem girl swims for MHS, but try thinking it through: Tandem girl swims for MHS. What’s catastrophic about that scenario? I understand that it would be DIFFERENT than what we do currently, and different often seems WRONG, but I’m still waiting to hear anyone (you, former teacher) articulate exactly what it is that is so unnatural and disturbing about these scenarios.

    It’s almost like people have internalized these tribal identities so strongly that it’s unfathomable to imagine a kid who takes classes at Tandem then joining kids at MHS for swim practice. “But…that’s a TANDEM KID! Right there, in the pool with all those MONTICELLO KIDS! That’s just…wrong!”

    WTF?

    And as to your question of 8:35 pm…club teams are not interscholastic competition, as I’m sure you know. So it doesn’t really make sense to answer my point that homeschooled kids (as distinct from private school kids) have no access to interscholastic competition by saying “couldn’t that kid do non-interscholastic competition?” you’re kind of proving my point that homie kids don’t have access to interscholastic competition.

  • Sadly, you are thinking in an innocent and honest way. Thinking that others will also do the right thing.

    I often do that, but I don’t think I’m doing that here.

    The reality is that almost instantly this will be used by high end athletes/coaches as a way to get around being “stuck” in one school vs. another. Currently many rules govern a students ability to play because of this. Try and transfer from a private to a public and you have to sit out the sport for a season. Its to stop coaches from recruiting players.

    You’re surely right…but there’d be no reason why the couldn’t enact the same rule for homeschoolers.

    As too letting a private school/home school student play for a high school team the problem arises in accountability. The AD/Principal has the final say so on athletics in a high school. Not in this case. Also potential liabilities. Insurance would cover students on bus rides but no one else, and school are very tight on non students riding school busses.

    I just don’t see what the problem is here. Homeschooled kids who participate in the public education system part-time are as surely a student as any full-time student. If a homeschooler violates the rules of conduct, he can be booted from the team, just like any other student.

    And you can count on someone getting litigious on this. It is a safe bet that a VERY VERY high majority of student home schooled students do so with religious reasons.

    That’s a common misconception. The Census Bureau has analyzed this claim, and found it untrue:

    The parents of one-half the home schoolers in these surveys were motivated by the idea that home education is better education. A large share also viewed the issue in terms of shortcomings of regular schools: the parents of 30 percent of home-schoolers felt the regular school had a poor learning environment, 14 percent objected to what the school teaches, and another 11 percent felt their children weren’t being challenged at school. Another theme had to do with religion and morality. Religion was cited by 33 percent of parents and morality by 9 percent. Practical considerations (transportation to school, the cost of private school) seemed of relatively minor importance. If attitudinal responses are to be believed, home schooling is not primarily a religious phenomenon, although religion is important.

    Emphasis mine.

  • “Walt R., you’re posing these questions as if they are show-stoppers, like we’d be aghast […] WTF”

    Actually they’re instead honest questions and I don’t necessarily disagree with your responses.

    The emphasis on the “interscholastic” sports opportunity is confusing to me. I take that meaning to be “between schools” rather than “between students”. There is an abundance of opportunities for kids to play on club teams with kids who attend various schools, so the difference seems to be that there’s some special benefit to homeschooled kids from participating on a school-based team.

    (The whole “school spirit” thing in local schools always struck as contrived and sometime quasi-facist.)

  • Yep, interscholastic means “between schools.” I think that the advantage of playing interscholastically rather than on club teams is that it’s a higher level of competition, and there’s more visibility for the athlete. Certainly if a kid has his/her eye on any kind of a college scholarship, he/she has to be playing interscholastically rather than at a club level. Arguably that’s the level where the really good coaching takes place. I think that once you reach a certain age, all the peer talent shifts during the school year to high school teams. So any young athlete who wants to keep playing at a high level would naturally want to follow that.

  • Claire,

    For soccer (ODP), swimming (US Swimming), basketball (“AAU”), and volleyball (USAV), college coaches prefer club participation to high school participation. Many track, baseball, softball coaches as well. Golfers compete at AJGA events outside of the school year that college coaches flock to.

    The level of competition is generally higher so the coaches get a look at the athletes against better competition. Plus there are these huge events that allow them to see dozens of athletes in a weekend. Depending on the sport, the coaching may be better in clubs. ODP soccer requires licensing by NSCAA, AAU basketball doesn’t require anything.

    Football is definitely a HS sport; wrestling, depending on the locale is a HS sport. Most college coaches expect high school participation, but it’s frequently not the performance in HS competition that drives scholarship offers.

  • Claire,

    I don’t think that’s true for all sports. Take soccer, for example. There are club teams with median talent below the high schools, others at the same level, and some regional ones that are far superior. For the last, kids play on the school team but also on that regional club team.

    There’s an interesting point you bring up: how does homeschool affect students’ chances at college admissions?

  • Stormy makes some good points about club teams that play in national events. College coaches rarely get to see HS events primarily because they are in up to their necks with their own seasons. That doesn’t mean that the talent is so much better than HS sports. Club coaches (esp. swimming, B-ball and soccer) tend to embellish their roles by telling kids that they need them to get a scholarship. They try to make the kids more dependent on them. It is basically a power issue.
    If a kid wants to be seen by a college coach then they should attend a summer camp at that college.
    My own experience (with my kids) is that though the club team is a higher level, the high school team is much more important to the kids.

  • That’s very instructive about the club v. high school sports differences. I should have said “I assume” when I surmised about why a homeschooled kid would want access to interscholastic competition. I can see the point that in sports like soccer, the club team is where it’s at. If my kid were on a track to be an elite athlete, I’d know more about this!

  • Waldo, the census paper that you linked to is 10 years old! Given the growth of home-schooling in the past decade, I’m not sure how much of the information in that paper is still accurate.

  • Waldo, the census paper that you linked to is 10 years old! Given the growth of home-schooling in the past decade, I’m not sure how much of the information in that paper is still accurate.

    Well, yes—the census is only done once a decade. :) But more recent studies bear out their results. For instance, here is a 2009 Department of Education publication, drawing on 2007 data:

    In the 2007 NHES, parents also were asked which one of their selected reasons for homeschooling was the most important. The reason reported by the highest percentage of homeschoolers’ parents as being most important was to provide religious or moral instruction (36 percent).

    36% in 2007 vs. 33% in 2001—the difference is within the margin of error of the two studies, which is to say that there’s no evidence of any change during that period.

  • Curious what the second most important was for the rest of that study….

    The study I found said over 80% citing moral/spritiual reasons, but I dont have the energy to look for it now.

  • I think maybe the larger point to be made re: the reasons for homeschooling is that parents choose homeschooling for a wide variety of complex reasons. We should resist the temptation to reduce complex phenomena to simple stereotypes.

  • @Claire. Your clearly a commie.

  • Lingering question of mine: can a homeschool kids shop for services in a public school outside of his/her school district?

  • @Claire. Your clearly a commie.

    Well, now you’re just trolling…misspelling “your” like that. ;)

  • Lingering question of mine: can a homeschool kids shop for services in a public school outside of his/her school district?

    Nope. All of the same rules apply as for any other students.

  • Can we get back to the original article for a moment?
    Before this year’s “4×4” and semesterized courses, the high schools had several days of exams before break in December. They might not have been exactly at mid-term, but students could then have an actual break before classes resumed in January (unless their teacher was harsh enough to assign a project during this time).
    The only reason to start school 2 weeks earlier is to allow semester-long courses to be finished before winter break. This would be unnecessary if the school board/administration is honest in their declaration that the high schools should use year-long courses as the default. Many of us see the proposed calendar change as way for them to go back to semester courses in the future.
    Semester courses are inferior to year-long classes for many reasons, not the least of which is a potential 9-12 month gap between sequential courses. (See albemarlecase.com.) If we need to be concerned about a decrease in SOL scores for semester courses after a 2-week break, think what a 9-month break will do!
    By the way, high-schoolers are allowed to be exempt from exams in classes in which they have an A average, which means that many high-schoolers get an extra week of vacation during this supposed exam week.
    Further, while SOLs are supposed to be a minimum standard for our students, having students pass these tests has become the only goal for many courses. Thus, (at least in my childrens’ experience) the 2 weeks after SOLs in May rarely include learning any new material. If this attitude persists, we might be better off ending school 2 weeks earlier. I would argue that we should be teaching more material, whether or not it is on a standardized test.
    The inanity of the current school system is enough to convince some parents to send their students to private school, or to homeschool. However, most of us do not have these options. It will serve all of us better in the long run if we have a strong public school system that can prepare our children for whatever path they choose.

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