Note

With Google shutting down Google+, I thought it was important to convert some Google+ posts to posts on this blog. Below is a post from January 27, 2016 that was originally at https://plus.google.com/105581925654470076312/posts/W5diqtKjTFd.

Google+ Post

Here is another post in the series on the NMAA's exclusion of homeschool teams from competition within the state of New Mexico--something that the Jemez Mountain Homeschool Speech and Debate Team is being heavily affected by right now (See related posts such as Original Google+ post or the local version).

As noted in my earlier posts, it is hard to understand the motivation for the NMAA's change of rules to ban homeschool teams from participating in New Mexico school competitions. It is possible that:

  1. they truly believe that the law does not permit homeschool teams (though, they seemed to work hard for the new interpretation);
  2. they do not like the competition (hence the "sour grapes" article by the Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com/680974/living/new-nmaa-homeschool-rule-reeks-of-sour-grapes.html );
  3. they are trying to funnel homeschool students through the public schools because of the additional funding provided to the public schools due to state law; or
  4. they are afraid of abuse of homeschool teams to get around public school eligibility requirements.

I am sure there are other possibilities as well. While the real motivation is likely a combination of these factors, I suspect that concerns about the money and skirting the eligibility requirements are probably the two largest issues.

When I say "skirting eligibility requirements" (Item #4 above), what I mean is the practice of dropping out of public school and becoming "homeschooled" so that an athlete would be eligible again for athletics with the local public school team. In fact, if you look at the NMAA eligibility rules, a fair amount of time is spent on defining the lack of eligibility for students that transfer between schools and other situations--I guess recruiting students for public school athletics must have been abused at some time in the state. In any case, this concern can certainly be managed.

According to http://www.abqjournal.com/news/yes/158157yes03-30-04.htm , the NMAA at one time allowed homeschoolers to band together and register as a group to participate in NMAA-sanctioned activities. They stopped doing that sometime before 2004, when the article was writtne. If the NMAA was worried about some of the administrative costs or how to manage participation, maybe opening up membership to the NMAA as an organized homeschool association might make some sense.

Of course, NMAA membership fees and related requirements for homeschool teams or associations could not be overly burdensome, if this were to be the approach the NMAA pursued. Otherwise, the situation would be no better than it is today other than the fact that participation would be "theoretically possible".

Now and in the future, the main impact of the NMAA rules changes regarding homeschool teams is that there will be fewer participants in NMAA-sanctioned school competitions (not more) since many homeschool families are unlikely to actually go through the bureaucracy to get their children onto public school teams. They are already not enrolling their children in public schools for some reason or another, so it is unreasonable to expect that a majority of homeschool families will enroll them in public schools for athletic or academic competitions. Additionally, there are cases where the local schools do not actually have competitive teams for some events, so participating with the public schools does not actually increase participation for those cases nor would there be a motivation for the homeschool students to participate with the local public school if no program already existed.

I am quite certain that less participation in academic and other competitions does not serve the public at all. Having students participate gives them experiences that can help prepare them for the rest of the challenges in life, helps them learn about hard work, helps them learn about their own abilities, and many other things.

On the positive side, allowing homeschool teams to participate has the following benefits (among others):

  1. primarily it provides more participation in the activities, especially, when the local schools do not have such a program;
  2. brings additional funds into competitions where the are registration fees (again, more participants);
  3. the funding for the homeschool teams is coming out of private sources so state funds are not required to support them; and
  4. it reduces the burden on already over-worked teaching staff in the public schools.

Again, the benefits of having homeschool teams participate in competitions seem to outweigh the potential downsides that I see. So, why the ban, NMAA?

#righttocompetenm