The Leaflet: Popularity of Homeschooling Impacts NCAA Women’s Final Four

Published April 7, 2016

The 2016 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship marked the ninth consecutive “Final Four” tournament appearance for the University of Connecticut (UConn). UConn reigns supreme in women’s basketball; the team claimed its fourth consecutive national championship and its sixth undefeated season this year, but they were also a force in the classroom as well.

According to a recent Time magazine article referencing a ranking from New America, a think tank headquartered in Washington, DC, UConn placed first in academics among the 64 teams in the women’s tournament. “New America compiled the rankings by beginning with each school’s football graduation success rate (GSR). The GSR is an NCAA measure that, unlike the federal graduation rate, doesn’t penalize schools for having players who transfer or leave for the pros – as long as those players depart in good academic standing.”

Moriah Jefferson, one of UConn’s brightest stars and winner of the 2016 Nancy Lieberman Award, came to UConn from a non-traditional education route. Her parents, Lorenza and Robin Jefferson, made the decision to home school their children instead of sending them to public schools in the De Soto, Texas school district. As homeschooled student, Moriah joined the Texas Home Educators Sports Association (THESA) Riders, a homeschool basketball team that competed against public and private schools.

Teams such as the THESA Riders have become more popular across the United States in recent years, along with a rise in the popularity of homeschooling. More parents than at any time in recent history are choosing to pursue freedom in education and withdraw their children from government schools, because the quality of government-run education in America has fallen dramatically in recent decades and because parents want to customize what their children learn in the classroom.

Andy Torbett, reported in a recent Heartlander article, “More parents than ever are turning to homeschooling as an alternative to enrolling their children in failing government schools, and colleges and universities are now adapting their admissions processes to better accommodate homeschooled children’s unique backgrounds and skills.”

Many states regulate homeschooling, but a number of states have rejected state laws imposing on homeschooling parents curriculum standards and home visits by state officials. Currently, Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Texas have no state requirements mandating homeschooling parents initiate contact or receive permission from a government body in order to educate their children.

William Estrada, director of federal relations at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a nonprofit “advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children,” says the boom in homeschoolers heading off to college is the result of significant growth in homeschooling nationwide.

“As homeschooling has become more popular, colleges and universities have gone from skeptical of homeschooled graduates to welcoming them with open arms,” Estrada said. “The system is working and does not need to be changed.”

The benefits of parental choice in education apply to all parents and children, regardless of income, race, or religion. All parents, therefore, should be free to choose. Contrary to the claims made by some, homeschooled children do succeed in nontraditional environments and often have exceptional talents worthy of attention, and Geno Auriemma, head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut, recognized that talent in Moriah Jefferson.

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