Should non students be able to join school clubs, teams?

The state Senate wants non students to be able to participate in clubs at their local public schools, even though many are not funded with tax dollars.

Many school clubs depend on fund raising rather than taxes. (AJC file)

Take a look at Senate Bill 55 and Senate Bill 34, both of which require public schools to allow children who are not enrolled to participate in extracurricular activities.

I understand the impetus and the impulse, but at some point, don’t schools have the right to ask: How much more can we do?

Schools can barely meet the needs of their own students, and now Sen. Chip Rogers and the Georgia Senate want them to open their doors to non students?

These bills would mandate access to all after-school clubs, sports and programs to students outside of the school. (Neither bill speaks to private school students yet, but that is probably soon to come.)

Consider that many after-school activities are financed by parent fund-raising and staffed by the parents themselves. Some after-school clubs depend on teacher volunteers. There is little taxpayer money going into most after-school activities.

How can the Senate mandate that these volunteer parents and teachers accept kids from outside the school community?

It is one thing to allow homeschoolers or students from other schools to come into programs that are underwritten by fees, as long as there’s room. But these bills speak to all extracurriculars, many of which are purely powered by volunteers.

SB 34 states: A public school shall allow any nonenrolled student to participate in any extracurricular activity offered or conducted by such public school outside of regular school hours in the same manner as any student currently enrolled at such public school. ‘Nonenrolled student’ means a student enrolled in a charter school or a virtual school
who resides within the attendance zone of a public school but who is not enrolled in such school.

SB 55 just dropped this afternoon and is not yet posted on the state web site. It also deals with extracurriculars, but addresses homeschoolers rather than students from charters or virtual schools.

Beyond the financial implications, these bills raise safety and logistical concerns. An influx of kids from outside the building into clubs, sports or after-school jazz bands or strings groups requires someone to manage both arrival and departure and the communications. My own twins learn most updates on their club meetings and sports via the school announcements.

I am sure that homeschooling parents will argue that they are paying taxes and thus should be able to treat public school offerings as a buffet line, picking the activities that suit their kids.  In some cases, that may be a good idea. For example, there’s a growing trend of homeschooled students attending one or two courses a day at their local schools. I understand and endorse that concept because tax dollars are paying for those courses.

But very little tax money goes into most after-school program. It takes silent auctions, bake sales and wrapping paper sales to support many of them.

Should the Senate be able to mandate that schools open all their extracurricular activities to non students?

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog.

136 comments Add your comment

TC

February 7th, 2011
4:05 pm

I think Florida has something similar to this. Tim Tebow (sp?) was homeschooled, but he was allowed to play football on his local high school team. That got him to the FL Gators and you know the rest of the story!

Fire Bad Teachers

February 7th, 2011
4:08 pm

From my volunteer experience, there are a few parents who do most of the work for student after school activities. Many parents of traditional brick and mortar students work outside the home and one could argue they have less time to volunteer than a parent staying home to educate their child. Also, many parents of charter students are expected to volunteer in the charter school and are willing to do a little extra for their child’s education. Allowing children from the community to participate in extracurricular activities is not only the right thing to do, but it is the best thing to do for all the children of our state.

My middle child who is schooled at home participated in a paid after school program at the local school this year. The program’s director recently pulled me aside to tell me that my son not only fit in with the 60 children he didn’t know, but his behavior was superior to that of the school’s students.

All children should be held to the same standard of behavior at the school.

HS Public Teacher

February 7th, 2011
4:21 pm

Schools fund programs primarily through the FTE money. This is money paid by the State and is by the number of students enrolled in that school. In addition, these enrolled students often do fund raisers for their club or extracurricular activities.

If a school is FORCED to accept students that are not enrolled in that school, it is wrong. The money INTENDED for the student enrolled there will have to be spread thin to cover those students not enrolled there. Will these non-enrolled students also be exempt from fund raisers??!!!???

How is this fair at all?

If these “community children” want to suddenly participate in school activities even if they are not enrolled there, then they should pay a required fee to at least cover their own expenses. Why should the enrolled students be taken advantage of?

HS Public Teacher

February 7th, 2011
4:22 pm

@TC – I have no problem with Tim Tebow doing that. However, I bet that he paid a fee to pay for the experience of playing football at that high school!

[...] Downey writes at the Atlanta J. Constitution: Take a look at Senate Bill 55 and Senate Bill 34, both of which require public schools to allow [...]

HS Public Teacher

February 7th, 2011
4:26 pm

Also, as a club sponsor, I do think that I would quit rather than accept a student outside of my school. No one forces me to sponsor a club and this would be my choice.

I think that it is wrong unless that outside student pays a fee.

kst

February 7th, 2011
4:27 pm

Absolutely! Considering the pathetic state of our public schools I would pull my kids in a minute if they could still do after school activities and home school. It is the only reason we stay in public school. Homeschooling can be one of the best educations you can give your kid.. I am tired of the one size fits all, the ineffective testing and all the stress our schools create to “make the grade”, however it is important that they have a place to socialize that is not with the rank and file home school religious fundamentalists. This is a perfect opportunity for not only the public schools to have a bigger pool of kids to join in on their teams, but also an opportunity for home school kids to socialize in a team environment.

Fire Bad Teachers

February 7th, 2011
4:29 pm

Maureen-Can you clarify how the after school programs are currently funded? Maybe by category, i.e. band, atheletic, academic. If virtuals and charters are fully funded, they could pick up the tab for their students participating in the programs. Also, all students participating should be held to the same financial obligations regardless of where they spend their school day.

@HS Public Teacher- One could argue the tax paying parents of the virtual and charter school students are being taken advantage of.

What is best for all students should be the deciding factor.

oldtimer

February 7th, 2011
4:36 pm

Many states already do this. Teachers I worked with after leaving GA also did private school and home school IEPs. They are glad to get many of these nice kids into band, Mock Trial, etc. They must be residents in the school district. Special Ed teachers here even go to the jail to work with inmates under 21 that are in special ed.

Lori

February 7th, 2011
4:36 pm

I agree with those who wonder about funding. As long as the money is coming from the tax dollars that the parents are already paying, then fine, but they should have to cover whatever isn’t. The schools fund raisers should not cover anyone who doesn’t participate.

HS Public Teacher

February 7th, 2011
4:38 pm

@Fire Bad Teachers….

“One could argue the tax paying parents of the virtual and charter school students are being taken advantage of.”

That is no arguement. They make a CHOICE to do that. You cannot take advantage of anyone if they make an informed CHOICE.

Rickster

February 7th, 2011
4:39 pm

I wonder how the GHSA (Ga HS Assoc) will look on this as to eligibility for athletics.

oldtimer

February 7th, 2011
4:39 pm

HS Public School teacher…The outside (ie homeschooled) student’s parents pay county and state taxes that actually pay your salary. I have found them no problem to work with when I worked with a history club. For the student it gives them group participation. It is what is best for kids!

flipper

February 7th, 2011
4:39 pm

Kst.. unless you are willing to raise funds for the school’s activities, then I’m afraid I would be against your homeschooled kids being involved with clubs or sports at my kids’ schools. You don’t get to have your cake and eat it too.

There are tons of private clubs where your kids can get involved in all sorts of sports and activities. If you want your homeschooled kids involved in extracurriculars… then pay for it with the private clubs but stay the heck away from the hard earned funds that we raise for our own students.

I have led clubs at school before, and I wouldn’t quit if I ended up with a kid outside of the school community in the club, but s/he would definitely be at the bottom of the heap as far as club involvement/benefits and as far as my engagement or interest. If they want to just come sit and watch, fine but that would be about all that would be available as far as I was concerned.

Fire Bad Teachers

February 7th, 2011
4:44 pm

@Lori- ” The schools fund raisers should not cover anyone who doesn’t participate.”

That’s just it. Not every child raises the same amount. Some don’t raise any. School fund raisers are not fair to begin with in many cases. I do know of a band program that lets each child keep what they earn and the money isn’t put in one pot and divided equally.

The same thing with field trips. Children still get to go if they can’t pay so teachers charge the paying children extra to cover those who can’t or won’t pay.

Also, most parents don’t pay enough tax dollars to cover the cost of one child’s education.

historydawg

February 7th, 2011
4:44 pm

The Greeks called this idios–rejecting the community unless it is for personal advantage. Rogers and his cronies will destroy the public education in this state and ignore personal responsibility, in the name of racism, classism, and religion. Once Americans accepted the responsibility of education their neighbors and embraced the notion that others’ children matter too. This is naked self-interest and gross idiocy. Essential to education in a democracy is learning how to engage and interact with others, no matter how different or disagreeable. This encourages folks to live the life our founding fathers deemed destructive to our Republic (hence public education’s mandate in all of the former colonies). How are the same people making rules like this so that others can avoid the public school, while mandating rules to the public schools which cause people to want to leave? It is preposterous and scheming.

jacket88

February 7th, 2011
4:45 pm

The parents of these homeschooled students pay their taxes and their children are entitled to the same benefits as those kids enrolled full-time in the public schools. Before anyone makes a stink – Both of my children attend public school and my wife is a public school teacher!!!!

middler and so tired of all the rhetoric :

February 7th, 2011
4:46 pm

First we find out a student who has never attended a high school can be that school’s valedictorian. Now we are supposed to let youngsters participate fully in extracurricular activities who don’t attend the school. This is insane. If you want your child to participate in activities and receive honors, enroll them in the school. Tim Tebow? If you are too Christian for your child to be educated in a public school he or she should be too Christian for extracurriculars at that school. We have rules for where you have to live and that makes sense. It also makes sense to require a student to attend a school full time, unless handicapped, to participate in that school’s extracurricular activities be they sports or music clubs or honor societies.

buy me out...

February 7th, 2011
4:49 pm

Sounds like a big liability lawsuit in the making….next thing we will be seeing are trauma centers at all schools….@fire bad teacher…then why am I paying texes for local schools when I have no children????

Maureen Downey

February 7th, 2011
4:50 pm

@jacket88, Could you check with your wife on how many after-school activities at her school are run by parents or teachers as volunteers? I would be curious.
My schools have a parent-run chess program. One year, I did an after-school school newspaper. I know parents who run a STEM club for kids at the middle school. A teacher volunteer runs the photography club.
Do you think non students should be able to attend these programs?
Maureen

Time4change

February 7th, 2011
4:51 pm

Club sponsors receive ZERO dollars for their service and coaches are poorly paid. Why would they want to take on more students that they don’t even know or teach?! If you opt out of supporting the public school system, you opt out of participating in the public school system. Haven’t you heard that you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

verdi73

February 7th, 2011
4:55 pm

I can tell you for sure that my chorus program runs on fundraiser money and that is it. We do not receive anything from the county any more. We survive on the generosity of our community.

MannyT

February 7th, 2011
4:58 pm

If some politicians believe schools should have more local control, I find it shocking that they want to impose this level of mandate on local schools. If they get away with it, maybe I’ll start a virtual school in a big computer lab and send the kids to the local school for extra curricular activity. Looks like a profitable business model. 8-O

Sounds like the gov’t making rules to replace the loss of community centered activity that used to be the domain of parks & recreation departments.

If I read the link correctly, charter schools are considered public schools in this legislation. Their “attendance zones” are set at the entire school district and limited by lottery if they run out of space. Does this fine legal document imply that I can send any charter/virtual school student to any charter after school program in the school district? If so, you can have an all star after school program with science club at the science charter, drama club at the arts charter, and we’ll send star basketballl player to the charter school that does the best job of recruiting athletes that are all “home schooled” Sounds problematic. (XYZ school gets a bunch of ringers on their team that don’t even attend school.)

For the I pay my taxes crowd, at least require them to (volunteer) put in some sweat equity on the activity. I see no reason for schools to provide free/discounted afternoon care for non students. When something goes wrong and a school is sued, I hope they can share the legal expenses with the politicians that came up with this legislation.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by EDUBEAT, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Should non students be able to join school clubs, teams? http://bit.ly/fOjuw5 [...]

Fire Bad Teachers

February 7th, 2011
5:01 pm

@buy me out – You are paying taxes for local schools because most of the parents of school age children aren’t paying enough taxes to cover the cost of educating their children. Approximately 10% of Georgia’s school age children are in private school or home schooled. How much would our school taxes be if all these children entered public school to take advantage of the after school activities?

CDC

February 7th, 2011
5:02 pm

Absolutely horrid idea!!! If the child wants to participate at the middle/high school level they should attend the school – Period!!! The concept of most is a cohesive team and the pain, suffering, fun, field trips, etc. that regular education offers that home school does not helps make a team what they are. Can anyone truly imagine a “team” oriented event where many on the team are not truly team players because they seperate themselves during the day. HOW does that make any sense??? The attendance of classes is part of what makes the team have a cohesive mindset. Many teams are even called based on their school…how can someone that is not a student of the school be a member of the school when it suits either the student or the team??? If we do this why not pay the students for participating??? Ludicrous politicians swayed by parents afraid kids will be taught science.

Techmom

February 7th, 2011
5:10 pm

Who says that these parents won’t help with fundraising? I would venture that the percentage of parents who are either homeschooling or paying for a private education are actually willing to be more involved in activities, fundraising and volunteering for clubs than the average public school parent.

When I was in HS at a public school, we had to either raise or parents had to pay for cheerleading & debate team (I only mention those b/c that’s what I know the most about). None of those fundraisers were done at school during the school day so why would it be any more inhibitive for a student who doesn’t attend during the regular day to participate in those fundraisers? My son is in HS and parents of that sport are expected to run the gate to collect entry fees and run the concession stands to support the sports. Again, no reason why the parent of a non-traditional student can’t do that.

I do think that the child should only be allowed to participate in the club, team or activity of the school they are zoned for or allowed to attend (i.e. in our county if the HS you are zoned for doesn’t have a particular activity, you can request a transfer to another in-county school that does assuming you can provide transportation).

Shar

February 7th, 2011
5:10 pm

Of course they should be allowed in. I have volunteered in every activity my kids have participated in, doing both fundraising and general support, and there are always a core group of parents who take on the lion’s share of the costs and the effort. Who’s to say that the parents of nonenrolled students won’t be some of those? It is also true that their tax dollars pay for the auditoriums, the art studios, the sports facilities and all the teachers that sponsor the programs, and that those dollars are not being spent on their own children.

If you want to use the schools as labs for democracy, letting the maximum number of people participate is crucial. Just because they want to pick and choose what elements of a public school they want to participate in doesn’t make them ineligible for everything, especially when they’re paying for services they don’t use.

Fire Bad Teachers

February 7th, 2011
5:12 pm

@CDC-It is plausable to think that some team members at large schools are never in the same classes or even the same grade for that matter. These students may only be together during practice after school.

MannyT

February 7th, 2011
5:15 pm

Even when schools fund after school activities, their overall funding is based on the number of students. Unless there is some fiscal accounting for extra after school students, you drain the resources of the local school beyond the standard tax contribution…as mandated by the state, not the local area where most of the funding originates.

If that works for you, I’d like to add some expenses to your local area (not mine) because I, like most here, pay state taxes in GA. This is an example of the state imposing unfunded mandates on county & city governments. Exactly what states complain that the federal government does to them.

fultonschoolsparent

February 7th, 2011
5:15 pm

So students are supposed to be allowed to attend an extracurricular activity when there will be no administrative authority other than the parent? If there’s a problem that needs discipline, there will be no principal to deal with it? And how about shot records and health information? There are a lot of home schooled who are not even vaccinated! Do I want my child singing in a chorus after school with a child who might have TB or worse?! There is no way that any sane teacher or parent would want to be involved in some thing like this. If people don’t want to belong to the school and community, let them develop their own activities! They’ve made the choice not to participate in what their taxes fund. Our responsibility to them stopped when they walked out the door of the public system.

Lynn43

February 7th, 2011
5:15 pm

Band is not an after school program. The extension and extra practice is after school, but the students learn music and the basics during band class during school. How could a band having extra rehearsals after school for a festival be assured of the same caliber and student level if some parent was trying to teach their child. Would, because of the decreased level of musicianship of this student, this cause the band to be judged a III? It could happen. There is also a liability and discipline issues which need to be addressed among the many more issues. If you are not happy with the public schools and public school students during the day, why would you want your children to be at the schools and associate with our students after school?

catlady

February 7th, 2011
5:16 pm

Let’s get rid of middle and high school extracurriculars, already! We can’t afford them. Let the kids play ball for the rec leagues–a lot less school liability then. Band? Well, let them play at concerts, but take them out of competitions and ball games.

Any parents that want to, including home-school parents, are welcome to start their own clubs. They can have the kids ride the bus to their houses and then they can wait, and wait, and wait for the parents to arrive to pick them up.

Put up or shut up time. We should not be sponsoring these things anymore with ANY taxpayer money.

See how ol’ Chip would like that!

Techmom

February 7th, 2011
5:17 pm

@CDC that’s a ridiculous argument! If going to school together is such a requirement, what do you think of the success of all the elite, private, travel ball/dance/cheer/swim clubs that are out there? Many schools don’t offer every sport or club and so many students are forced to partipate in non-school teams or clubs and yet they still excel and some of them even get scholarships to college for those things.

I went to a high chool with 2500 students. It was rare that I participated in any activity or club with my actual classmates.

GNGS

February 7th, 2011
5:18 pm

Another unfunded mandate from politicians, who will otherwise claim to be for local control and smaller government, is sadly common in GA.

kst

February 7th, 2011
5:18 pm

@flipper. considering one of my kids is sitting in an on level English class where 75% do not know how to read and he just got a 650 on his Reading SAT I would say eating cake is not what we want to do, funny we were thinking he might actually get an education.. that is a joke here in Georgia. I home schooled one last year,she went back this year and she is now so far ahead of her peers she just twiddle’s her thumbs in the top level classes making straight A’s. I have no problem funding with my tax dollars (note that please) or raising private money for any after school activity they would attend. I guarantee the home school families not only would raise money for their activity they would do it more effectively then the current practice of selling wrapping paper. That is usually why they leave public schools in the first place as the lack of critical thinking and imagination is absolutely appalling and don’t worry you wouldn’t be a club leader for long if a home school parent gets involved.

Tony

February 7th, 2011
5:20 pm

this proposal is the least troubling of ideas coming forth

Fire Bad Teachers

February 7th, 2011
5:28 pm

@fultonschoolparent-I know several currently enrolled public school students who are not vaccinated.

Some families choose to educate their children at home because of the ineffective discipline in public schools.

@catlady-I agree, get the education taken care of and if time and resources allow provide the extras.

Teacher calculator

February 7th, 2011
5:32 pm

GHSA does has attendance laws for participation…local schools have additional laws. How am I going to tell a student he cant participate in an activity because he was absent from school when kids whose attendance I can’t govern or check get to participate with no questions asked. Hmmmm, I smell a parks and recreations budget cut.

another comment

February 7th, 2011
5:33 pm

I can just see it the Fundamentalist Christian Home Schoolers mocking the Muslims who attend public school. The Christians would want a Jesus prayer before everything. It just wouldn’t work. They have taken their kids out of public school to brain wash them from reality already.

Teacher calculator

February 7th, 2011
5:33 pm

Sorry….fat thumbed girl typing here. Does have…not does has.

Had ENOUGH?

February 7th, 2011
5:34 pm

How does all this fit in with Georgia High School Athletic Association rules? Has anyone thought about the liability associated with non-student participation? If the parents want their kids to participate, why can’t they be enrolled in their local PUBLIC school?

FTE funding shouldn't be an issue

February 7th, 2011
5:35 pm

FTE goes towards instructional programs – not a dime for extracurricular anything or fine arts classes during school (unless you count them as vocational, which would prolly get you into hot water).
@Lynn: actually, i know several very good homeschool students who participate in GMEA district and state events. i’d say that just because someone CAN participate by law doesn’t mean they don’t have to meet certain standards – at least that is what the bill seems to indicate. i wouldn’t worry about a homeschooler showing up and wrecking a performance unless you stick ‘em on something they can’t handle – in which case they just don’t get to participate in LGPE. yeah, i’d love to see us get rid of the “band for sports entertainment” idea and get back to aesthetic educations that doesn’t require dorky uniforms and playing while executing a difficult mraching maneuver.

Homeschooler

February 7th, 2011
5:37 pm

As a homeschooling parent, I prefer my children not participate in government school activities of any sort. My wife and I work very hard to provide for our family with just my income. We make many personal sacrifices so that our children can participate in the extracurricular activities that interest them such as scouting, music, baseball, soccer, karate and gymnastics. We choose to spend our money for our children to participate in these activities at places of our choosing instead of where the government tells us they can. But not everyone has that option which is why I have no problem with homeschooled children having the option to participate at their local government school since their families are paying the same taxes as everyone else that pay for that school. But I also believe if they choose to participate then they should assist with the fundraising activities as much as the average government schooled students do. That sounds pretty fair and simple to me.

CDC

February 7th, 2011
5:38 pm

Apparently the majority of schools should be dominated politically by the few? Why would most of Georgia care about the few huge schools in Atlanta? If your argument is that many in extracurricular activities never attend the same classes…why is that my problem or the majority within this state? Seems like you should be pushing for smaller schools rather than trying to force non-students into a school activity that they do not attend. FFA is a great example where students take classes and then compete in numerous activities at the club level….no way a non-student should be allowed. Football is another…the team represents the school and especially the student body. That’s what makes the band and cheer leaders have something to crow about. It represents them!!! Not someone who is not a member because they think they are elite or afraid that modern academic knowledge could somehow harm them.

CDC

February 7th, 2011
5:46 pm

Homeschooler…you pay the taxes for the right to send your children to school. If you elect not to take part of that service that does not give you the right to this monetary unit in other ways. If that was…how many would elect not to pay for military programs or pork barrel programs or any other program that we currently pay that many of us disagree with. Are you saying Americans should have the choice of what to pay for with our taxes and if we aren’t happy we can just stop paying? Wonder what chaos that would cause? Would there be policemen? Firemen? Or is the logic flawed in some way?

No Kids!

February 7th, 2011
5:50 pm

Well I don’t have kids and the day homeschoolers get the money to spend as they see fit is the day I sue to get my money back. Why should I pay for schools when I don’t have kids?

Courtney

February 7th, 2011
5:52 pm

I cannot believe my grandfather died fighting the Nazis in WWII; just to have that thug Chip Rogers implement the same tactics over here. The government needs to stop spending other people’s money!

Homeschooler

February 7th, 2011
5:54 pm

CDC — I guess you missed the part where I said — “But I also believe if they choose to participate then they should assist with the fundraising activities as much as the average government schooled students do.”

If they are paying the same fees and doing the same amount of work then they should be allowed to participate. If not, then they shouldn’t. Again, its pretty simple.

And I’m curious about how you came up with the idea that I was saying “Americans should have choice of what to pay for with our taxes?” I never once said I have a problem with paying thousands of dollars a year for your children to attend government schools. There are some children who are much better off receiving a government education than what they would receive at home. Its all about doing what is best for each family and each child.

Techmom

February 7th, 2011
5:54 pm

There’s nothing that says students wouldn’t have to go through the same admission/registration process as another student (verification of where they live, verificiation of vaccines, etc.) Some parents don’t feel like the education environment of a public school classroom is the most effective for their child and yet they would still like their child to have the ability to participate in certain clubs or activities. I’d be ok with the school counting him as an addendum to the student population since I pay taxes (more than the average person in my area) and if I weren’t sending him to a private school, he’d be attending that public school using up more resources.