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 21, 2016 that was originally at https://plus.google.com/105581925654470076312/posts/2EE4CMHwuKJ.
If you are not aware, the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) has changed its policies this year that block the participation of homeschool teams in various activities. As a result, the Jemez Mountain Homeschool Speech and Debate Team was blocked from participation in its first in-state NMAA tournament on September 25-26, 2015 at Los Alamos High School. Some awareness of the event was found in the media, such as KOAT's coverage of the event (http://www.koat.com/news/new-mexico-home-school-students-shut-out/35524114) and the Los Alamos Daily Post's coverage of the event (http://www.ladailypost.com/content/validity-home-school-speech-and-debate-team-tournament-entries-challenged). The Jemez Mountain Team has been actively participating for more than 15 years as an independent team, so this is quite crazy. The team has been blocked from about 6 events so far in-state, despite appeals to the NMAA and the New Mexico Public Education Department.
The Jemez Mountain Team was not the only team affected. The Albuquerque Area Home Schoolers Science Olympiad Team was also affected by the change of NMAA rules. Here are a few articles that mention their plight:
That science olympiad team had also been participating in these competitions for about a decade.
What led to the change after these teams have been competing for so long? Apparently the NMAA reinterpreted state law and is working hard to enforce their interpretation. The reinterpretation led to NMAA rules that effectively forces homeschool students to participate in NMAA activities with their local public school only, eliminating the eligibility of homeschool sponsored teams. Before this year, the NMAA Handbook had provisions (though discriminatory) for homeschool teams to participate in NMAA events. Having read some of the law that the NMAA quotes, it seems like a strange interpretation of law, but I'll try to address that in a later post (Original Google+ post or the local version).
The real problem here is that there are no good laws that specify that the NMAA must be more inclusive with their activities. As such, there are a few statements of law that are up to interpretation, which I believe have led to the current controversy.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened. The Jemez Mountain Team has seen this before back in 2004. Here are a few articles on the topic: