Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Good News or Merely More Confusion?

Hi, all!

There is some potentially good news on the homeschool MathCounts team issue.  You may remember new homeschool teams were banned from competition this year.  We were fortunate in our region to have a coordinator who scored our kids' team on an "unofficial" basis and reported those scores to me privately.  They, by the way, "unofficially" won that portion of the competition and "unofficially" placed second overall as a team.  For their fantastic debut effort, they received nary a nod or applause or mention from the podium.  We were the only ones who knew of their achievement.  Great way to treat kids, hunh?

MathCounts just issued a new ruling for the upcoming competitive season.  I've listed it below, but some concerns remain.  For instance, my local middle school competes in one region even though the school draws kids from two different MathCounts regions.  I live in a town that straddles two counties.  According to the new modification, if a homeschooled kid lives just 10 minutes from where our team practices, he or she would have to drive an hour to the homeschool team in that region/county rather than 20 city blocks to our team.  Seems to defeat the intent of the ruling, which is clearly to restrict homeschool teams to a small geographic area.  Also, there is no such thing as a legitimately recognized homeschool group in my state.  Homeschools are legal private schools in IL.  This year, I had all our competitors' parents sign an affidavit saying they were in full legal compliance with the state code regulating private schools.  I don't see any way our state could require any more.  Or would our homeschool math team be considered a legitimately recognized homeschool group by virtue of our regular meetings and practices?  Who is the arbiter of legitimacy here?

I applaud MathCounts for relenting on their unreasonable rule of last season, but as long as we have magnet schools, private schools and public schools who are not in compliance with the rules below, the policy remains discriminatory toward a group of kids merely because of where and how they receive their primary instruction.  And in my book, that's just plain wrong.

Team Eligibility Rule Modification:  Coordinators were notified that the Homeschool/Small School eligibility rule will be modified for the 2011-2012 program year.  Homeschool groups will once again be allowed to register a team for the competition program.  However, all homeschool groups registering a team will be required to meet the following qualifications:  1. All registered members of the team must live within the same chapter they will be competing in and 2. Homeschool groups registering a team must complete a Homeschool Affidavit that identifies the school as a legitimately recognized homeschool group within the state and discourages the homeschool group’s students from registering independently should they not be selected to represent the homeschool group noted on the affidavit.

The rule prohibiting small schools from combining with other small schools to form a team still will be enforced for the 2011-2012 program year.

Although the MATHCOUNTS Board of Directors has agreed to modify the team eligibility rule for the 2011-2012 program year, the format of the affidavit is still in the development stages.  Additional information concerning the rule modification will be provided to coordinators when it becomes available, as well as in the 2011-2012 Coordinator Manual and in the 2011-2012 MATHCOUNTS School Handbook. 

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