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Home-schooled hoopsters hit the road
Question of the Day
Starting on March 9, Davis will run his own tournament, the rapidly expanding East Coast Basketball Championships for home-schooled boys and girls varsity, junior varsity and middle-school teams from as far away as Texas.
In the tournament’s first year, 1997, eight teams participated. This year, Davis said, he expects 52. Davis had to move the tournament from Fredericksburg, Va., to Liberty University in Lynchburg to handle the increased demand, and colleges are now sending scouts to the tournament, he said.
A big reason for the increased participation is that home schooling itself is on the rise.
“Part of it is economics,” said Davis. “Between Christian schooling and home schooling, it’s the least expensive choice. You look around, people are opposed to public schools. What’s the alternative? There are moral, Christian reasons and a general distrust to what’s being taught. … And because of the economy, enrollments at private schools are down.”
Despite some lingering skepticism about home schooling (a California court last year ruled it illegal, but the decision was overturned.), attitudes are shifting as the practice complies with state educational standards. More home-schooled students each year are going to college, and the U.S. military academies now accept a small number.
Virginia Delegate Robert Marshall, Prince William Republican, said during his first campaign in 1991, his opponent tried to use home schooling as a misdeed. “It was as if I fed them Lysol for dinner,” Marshall said. “There’s been a change in understanding. It was felt to be a badge of infamy.”
The Reifsniders, who live in a fifth-generation farmhouse 150 to 200 years old, began home-schooling when Sarah and Rebecca started sixth and eighth grades. Both had attended private Christian high schools, but a “mix-up” with the affiliated church led them to consider other options, said the girls’ mom, Deb Reifsnider.
“We checked with other private schools, but the tuition was out of our range,” she said. “We knew home schooling was a possibility and decided to try it and see how it would go.”
Deb Reifsnider said she did extensive research on the Internet, talked to people who home-schooled their kids and attended a Christian home-school fair in Harrisburg, Pa. Home-schooling software explained the basics, and she learned how to comply with state standards for home schooling.
“I really didn’t know much about it,” she said. “Both girls enjoyed it, and I felt it went very well. I felt like they learned as much as they did when they went to a traditional school.”
Although she is not well-versed in such subjects as calculus, which Rebecca is taking this year, Deb Reifsnider said the curriculum is “self-explanatory” and even more thorough than what some schools might offer.
“Rebecca has taken her PSATs and scored very highly,” she said. “She has a cousin who goes to a public school in a different state who’s a year older, and there are things she’s doing that he doesn’t know how to do.
“A lot of colleges are realizing that there’s less wasted time during the day. If you have that mind-set, you can do a lot more. When my kids went to private school, they never completed a textbook in a year’s time. Now they go cover to cover.”
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By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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