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Missouri considers expanding homeschool access to extracurricular activities

The Missouri Senate recently debated legislation that would expand opportunities for homeschooled students to participate in their local school district’s extracurricular activities.

The idea may get widespread support as homeschooling is at record levels, fueled in part by previous covid lockdowns and controversies over curriculum.

“Throughout my elementary school years, I participated in local school and city-sponsored activities with my public-school peers,” Jonah Spieker, 16, told a Senate committee. “That came to an abrupt end when I entered the seventh grade. I was cut off from the athletic community that I’ve experienced my whole life.”

He could play football on his local school’s team only if he enrolled in two classes, according to Missouri State High School Activities Association policy. Spieker’s brother, Zeke, is a legislative assistant to Sen. Jill Carter, R-Granby, who is sponsoring a two bill that would do away with the two-class requirement.

Homeschool families are involved in the community, participating in activities with other community members,” Carter said. “Often, these events are taking place with a local high school. This all changes when these kids reach seventh grade and MSHSAA takes over.”

Legislation proposed by Sen. Ben Brown, R-Washington, would cut out any course requirements. It seeks to prohibit school districts from joining extracurricular organizations that require students to be enrolled in a class at a school to play on a team or participate in a club.

Brown said homeschool families pay tax dollars to the school district and should have access to its clubs.

“The school district shall not prohibit the homeschool or full-time virtual school students from participating in athletic and extracurricular programs that are funded in part by their parents’ tax dollars,” he told the Senate committee.

Judah Meredith, a 13-year-old wrestler from Joplin, testified alongside his sibling that he has heard arguments that there are s plenty of teams separate from schools that he could join. “In small towns, there are very few of these,” he said. “And they are not usually at the same competitive level as activities through school.”

No one testified in opposition to the legislation. The committee did not vote on the bills after the hearing.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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