Monthly Archives: February 2012

The 500

The 500

I am responding to the article “Sports Debate Begins at Home” (Fairfax Times).  We are one of “The 500” in Fairfax County that home educate their high school daughters while fighting off the Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae. I wish to respond to some of the statements put forth in that article.

1)      Delegate Kay Kory voted against the proposed legislation, stating, “It’s just not fair to have kids who have done all the time in the classroom and met the grade requirements compete against someone who hasn’t had to fulfill those requirements.” Kory added that if a family does not choose the public education plan that family has essentially “opted out of the system on all fronts”.

If only it were so. We’d really love to opt out on all fronts but the county doesn’t allow us to opt-out of subsidizing the government school option with our tax dollars—that’s a front we can’t opt out on. If it really were an option along with public sports program, there would be a stampede of parents opting out on all fronts. That’s what really worries this delegate.

The statement also suggests that home educated families are under the radar. The truth in Fairfax County is that those who “opt out on all fronts” must submit a statement of intent, photocopy their college degrees and send them in, annually purchase and proctor a standardized test (California, Iowa or Stanford) making sure that “opting-out” families meet requirements.  In other words, if you think that home education is, somehow, outside the system, it isn’t.

In fact, the system is stricter for those “opting out on all fronts”. If we should not meet these minimum requirements, the opting out family is put on probation. Another lapse and the opting out family is no longer opting out. In other words, as Donald Trump would say, “ya foyer-ed”. Imagine if the government standards were that high for the public option. Imagine if teachers in Fairfax County had the same threat of revocation whenever a student lapsed in meeting educational standards.

As far as kids meeting grade requirements competing against someone who has not, let me say this: what school sports program doesn’t let their star athletes “skate” on soft academic requirements to let them compete? Right.

2)      Delegate Dave Albo voted against the proposed legislation, stating, “it’s near impossible to make a varsity sports team in these large high schools. This just adds more competition for a few spots”.

Competition?  In sports? Really? We simply can’t have that, especially with tiny Sparta in the fight.

Let’s do the math:

  • In a county with over a million people, the local politicians are worried about competition from 500?
  • Of the million public school constituents, 30 felt inclined to oppose the legislation, while 6 out of 500 wrote to support it. The telling ratios are 0.00003 winning over 0.012. In other words, most constituents don’t really care if the home educated participate.
  • Of 14 members of the delegation from Northern Virginia, 2 voted for it. The remaining 12 probably view home education as a threat to a hegemony most constituents have stopped questioning. That’s what this is really about, not fairness.

It may surprise everyone that, should the County provide families “opting out on all fronts” a tax incentive, many home educators would oppose it.  The beauty and success of the home education movement is the freedom it provides its practitioners. Any government tax incentive would be tethered to a line of control and bureaucracy that would render the practice impotent.

Whether legislation is passed to allow the home educated to participate in sports available at public schools is largely irrelevant to the few, the happy few, the 500. We have already seen the benefits of home education and have already resigned ourselves to fight (or work around or simply ignore) the mighty armies of Xerxes. My daughters are already doing quite well academically and have several athletic avenues available in travel soccer, fencing, and dance.  They are getting a quality, personalized and unique educational experience—not because of our politicians–but despite them.