School's out forever
I had mixed feelings when I read that Gov. Ed Rendell signed a bill requiring all of Pennsylvania's school districts to allow homeschoolers to participate in extracurricular activities. On the one hand, I have a lot of respect for people who choose to homeschool their children, even if I don't always agree with their reasons for doing it. Homeschooling has grown increasingly more sophisticated and dynamic, and the parents who do it, the governor rightly notes, pay property taxes that help fund their local schools. It is understandable that they would want to see some direct benefits.
However, choices have consequences, and most homeschool parents do not have to homeschool their children--not in the sense, for example, that many inner-city parents feel they have to send their children to charter schools. Residential property and wage taxes pay only a small portion of the cost that it requires public school districts to operate. School districts receive state subsidies for each child that is enrolled, and they even get to keep a portion of the subsidy for each child who attends a charter school. To my knowledge, they receive nothing for homeschool children who happen to reside within their borders.
Besides, many people, such as the childless and the elderly, pay school taxes without receiving a direct benefit. Public education is a social good, and we all benefit from having an educated populace. Even if you believe, as do many libertarians, that the public school system should be dismantled and parents be given vouchers for use at public schools, education still would require funding provided through taxes--taxes that many people would pay without ever realizing a direct return. So I would to say that I would have preferred to see the state continue to allow local districts to decide for themselves whether to allow homeschoolers to take part in extracurricular activities.