New bills open jobs, sports for homeschoolers
Home-study students and parents from across the state have been fighting for more than five years to get the legislation passed, said Beryl Amedee, chairperson of Louisiana Family Forum Education Resource Council.
The Home School Diploma Bill was pushed because some state agencies and technical schools wouldn’t accept a home-study diploma.
“The bill was proposed because some students who had graduated from approved home-study programs were being denied access to some trade schools, like cosmetology school and pharmacy technician schools,” Amedee said. “In Louisiana, with a home-study diploma, you can enter virtually any college, you could go to work for NASA, you could become the chief executive of the governor’s staff, but you could not put makeup on someone’s face and you could not be a pharmacist’s assistant.
“What was really weird was that with a home-study diploma you could enroll at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and actually become a pharmacist but you couldn’t become a pharmacy technician.”
Amedee said that some technical schools and even state entities, such as police academies, would not accept a home study diploma and would demand the student obtain a GED.
“The problem was that when a student graduated from a home-study program … they would be told that their diploma was not good enough, that they would have to go get a GED, but a student from a public school or approved private school was not having so much trouble,” Amedee said.
The new legislation will make sure that no entity funded using tax dollars can discriminate against a graduate of an approved home-study program when they apply for employment or enrollment in higher education.
“This bill is a wonderful step in the right direction,” Amedee said.
Another recently passed bill allows home-study students the opportunity to participate in public-school sports.
Lisa Arceri, a member of the Christian Home Educators Fellowship of St. Charles and the mother of three home-schooled children, spearheaded the effort among parents to pass the bill regarding home-school athletes on public-school teams.
“(This bill) opens a door of opportunity for the student to pursue their interests, which is an important part of their education and development,” Arceri said.
While students will be able to apply to participate in public-school athletics, the principal may turn them down based solely on their own discretion.
Jerry Smith, director of Child Welfare and Attendance for St. Charles Parish Public Schools, said the district is still working to come up with guidelines for home-schooled students’ participation in sports.
Smith did know that all students participating in public school sports will have to abide by the district’s rules.
“Whatever the guidelines are for our (public-school) students as far as discipline, the same guidelines would apply to the home-schooled students,” Smith said.
Although the new bill will give home-schooled students the opportunity to play public-school sports, there are no guarantees the students will even get to try-out.
“Home-schoolers interested in participating in high school sports ... should be aware that many schools ... may be unfamiliar with the details,” Arceri said. “They should be able to obtain more information from home-school associations or the Louisiana legislative Web site.
“(Students) must be in an approved home-study program, and make a written request for approval from the principal in their district before the 11th day of the school year.”
Amedee also followed the athletic bill, and hopes it will open up more sports options to home-study students.
“There are many principals who are just going to say no, period,” Amedee said. “But there are some home-schoolers who will be allowed to play because the principals or coaches may be already familiar with the students.
“Some of the student athletes are so outstanding that the coaches and principals are going to be excited and try to pave the way for the students who will be eligible.”
Any parents in St. Charles Parish that have homeschooling questions should contact CHEFofStCh@juno.com or find more information on homeschooling in Louisiana at www.chefofla.org. CHEF accepts new members at any time during the year, but most parents have questions as the new school year starts. It offers a speech club, 4-H, family activities, a football team, a high school graduation class and fun field trips.
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