JEFFERSON CITY — Homeschoolers may find it easier to join public school activities under a proposal initially approved at Missouri House on Tuesday.
Representative Josh HurlbertR-Smithville, said homeschool students in more populated areas may have their own associations that offer activities, but those in rural areas may struggle to get involved in sports, music, debates or other opportunities.
The proposal would remove all core state funding from schools that do not allow homeschool students to participate. Schools also could not belong to a statewide activity association that prohibited students from being home-schooled or required them to enroll in more than one class.
Schools could still require homeschooling students to enroll in a class directly related to the business, such as choir, bodybuilding or drama.
the Missouri State High School Activities Association currently requires homeschool students to enroll in at least two classes before they can participate in activities, Hurlbert said, but some districts have even stricter requirements.
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Several House Democrats expressed support for the general idea of allowing homeschool students to participate in activities, but argued that the penalty for violating the requirement was too strong.
Rep. Maggie NurrenbernD-Kansas City, said it is concerned that it is unconstitutional to remove all core funding for violating home school attendance rules.
Representative Barbara Phifer, D-Kirkwood, compared the sentence to someone’s execution for stealing a handkerchief. She asked Hurlbert if he had considered any alternatives.
Hurlbert wouldn’t say what alternatives he considered, but said the details of the proposal were worked out in discussions with senators.
A version of the proposal was part of Senate discussions on expanding school choice. Senators debated an omnibus education bill without reaching an agreement.
Hurlbert argued that laws needed “teeth” to be followed and said that if his proposal became law he did not expect schools to break it and face the penalty.
Some representatives discussed their own experiences with homeschooling and pointed out that it is often at least as rigorous as education in public schools.
“My husband and I would have been delighted” to have the opportunity for their children to participate in activities while they were homeschooled, said Representative Yolanda YoungD-Kansas City.
Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, said attack ads during his campaign focused on his background as a homeschooler. She asked members of the House to vote in favor of the proposal to support people like her mother, who raised six children at home.
“My mom believed she could teach us at home and she did a great job,” she said.
Hurlbert’s proposition is House Bill 494.