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Sen. Massey – “More Opportunities for Students”
By Tiffani Ireland – South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed into effect the Equal Access to Interscholastic Activities Act on June 7, 2012. The law, better known as the Tim Tebow Law, is so called because it is modeled after legislation in Florida that allowed the now NFL player, who was a home schooled student, to play football for his local public high school, thus launching his famed collegiate and professional career. With the enactment of this piece of legislation, home schooled, charter school, and governor school students will now have the opportunity to participate in interscholastic activities at their local public school. These activities include, but are not limited to, athletics, music, and speech.
Sen. Shane Massey of Edgefield was a primary sponsor of this bill and said to The Advertiser in a recent interview regarding the bill’s passage, “I think it’s a good thing.” “It gives more choices,” he said and went on to say, “I think its going to allow for the opportunity for students to be exposed to a lot of different opportunities.” While somewhat noted for its effect on home schooled students’ eligibilities to participate in public school activities, Sen. Massey noted that the law will effect many different students in South Carolina saying it “provides more opportunities for children across the state.” He went on to share how it may even serve to open the door to other innovative ways of educating the state’s students, especially with the growing trend in virtual education.
As with most institutional changes, there has been some controversy, and Sen. Massey acknowledged the law has experienced some “push-back” from a few school districts. He cited an instance in which one school district refused to let a home schooled student participate in its ROTC program. In another situation, a school district would not allow a home schooled student to try out for the high school football team. In each case, the Attorney General ruled in favor of the law, and the students were allowed participation.
On the whole, however, Sen. Massey stated that he felt the law ultimately had more public school support than opposition. One reason he gave for this support was the possibility of new student enrollment. Once a student from another teaching model – be it a home schooled or charter school setting – is exposed to their local public school through interscholastic activities, it opens up the possibility that that student may then decide to seek an education from that public school system.
Sen. Massey was quick to note that the law only provides for the opportunity for student participation; it does not guarantee it. Students will still have to meet all eligibility requirements for the individual activity in which they are seeking to participate. Additionally, students must also meet requirements established by the law. One such requirement is that home schooled students must have been home schooled for at least one full academic year to be eligible to participate in interscholastic activities at their local public school. For a full list of requirements or to read the law in its entirety visit www.scstatehouse.gov.