The following is based on a letter sent to the Philadelphia Inquirer, in response to this article.
"She just wants to be included," says Kim Reynolds of her home-schooled daughter and the fight for her to take part in Fred S. Engle Middle School's spelling bee. Yes, she wants to be included, except where it really counts--in the classroom.
The winner of the school's spelling bee, who will go on to the county-wide level, should represent the students of the school. Meghan Reynolds represents no one except herself and her family. She is not a member of the student body of Engle Middle School.
As a life-long proponent of public education, I am opposed to Pennsylvania's Act 67 and its requirement that home-schooled students be permitted to participate in extra-curricular activities at public schools in their districts. Why? If such activities are so important to them, why is not the rest of the public school experience--classes and lunch with their peers, the camaraderie in hallways--not equally as important? If the argument is that their parents are paying taxes to support these activities, the same can be said of parochial school students; yet no one argues for those students to be part of the extra-curricular activities at public schools.
In many districts, there are curricular components to these activities. In my own district, band and chorus are classes, for which students receive a grade. That seems to be the case for Engle's spelling bee, as well. Further, in many districts, there are academic requirements that must be met before one can participate, especially in athletics. Who assures that the home-schooled students are meeting the same requirements? Their parents?
No--a well-rounded education consists of many things...and class participation should not be separated from extra-curricular participation. If you choose not to be part of the first, you should not demand to be part of the second.