Legislation that would allow homeschoolers to participate in public school sports would undermine our homeschooling freedoms. Click here for the reasons.
This sports language was put together principally by just two legislators, Representatives Jeremy Thiesfeldt (see “Homeschool to Sports” in the attached Rep. Thiesfeldt’s email) and Bob Kulp (a homeschooler who wanted [On May 30, 2015, WPA corrected a typo by changing “wants” to “wanted.”] his sons to be able to play public school sports). It was stuck into the Budget Bill without discussion at 1:30 am on May 20, 2015. (Here’s what happened when Rep. Thiesfeldt tried to introduce this sports language through the normal legislative process in 2013.)
Legislators need to hear from you. If we allow this language to pass without a fight, we can expect more efforts to trade homeschooling independence and freedom for so-called favors from the government.
Another provision in the Budget Bill would undermine homeschool diplomas by singling out only one use for which they are acceptable, namely, as a credential for teacher’s aides in private schools participating in a private school choice program. (Public Instruction—K-12 Omnibus Motion, #17 page 6)
Our best chance of getting changes made to the legislation will be when Assembly and Senate Republican and Democratic Caucuses meet to make changes to the Budget Bill.** The more Assembly Representative and State Senators who can say, “I heard from a lot of constituents on this issue and I’m in favor of removing it,” the better the chances that the caucus will vote to remove it.
Who to Contact
• Your Wisconsin Assembly Representative and State Senator. Ask to speak to an aide for education. Their contact information is here.
• Key leaders in the Republican caucuses, even if you don’t live in their districts.
Senator Scott L. Fitzgerald
Majority Leader, Republican
Senate District 13 (R – Juneau)
Madison (608) 266-5660
Senator Sheila Harsdorf
Majority Caucus Chair, Republican
Senate District 10 (R – River Falls)
Madison (608) 266-7745
Representative Robin Vos
Republican Rochester, WI
Assembly District 63
Madison (608) 266-9171
Madison (888) 534-0063
District: (262) 514-2597
Representative John Murtha
Republican Baldwin, WI
Majority Caucus Chair
Assembly District 29
Madison (608) 266-7683
Madison (888) 529-0029
When to contact them
Between now and June 7, 2015.
What to say:
(1) About the provision to allow homeschoolers (and others) to participate in public school sports. (#29 in Public Instruction—K-12 Omnibus Motion, pages 11-12)
Say to the legislator or their aide: When your caucus meets to vote on the Budget Bill, please vote to remove the provision that would allow homeschoolers (and other school district residents who are not enrolled in public schools in the district) to participate in public school sports for the following reasons:
• School sports teams are expected to be made up of students who are enrolled in the school.
• As a homeschooler, I don’t want this sports legislation since it allows public school officials to make decisions about homeschools in Wisconsin. Neither public schools nor the Department of Public Instruction has ever had this authority and they should not have it now.
• I and the vast majority of homeschoolers I know don’t want any so-called favors from the government, including permission to participate in public school sports.
• The vast majority of homeschoolers don’t want any favors from the government, including permission to participate in public school sports. Homeschoolers realize accepting tax dollars or other favors from the government consistently leads to increased government regulation. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
• Allowing homeschool students to participate in public schools will lead to ill-will toward homeschoolers and calls by the public and the educational interest groups for homeschools to be subject to the same curriculum and testing requirements as public schools.
• Once the government allows public schools to assess the quality of homeschooling curriculums and grading for sports, it will be a short step to allowing public schools to regulate homeschools in areas such as homeschooling curriculum, testing, transcripts, diplomas, etc.
• In a sneaky surprise move, this provision was added to the Budget Bill at 1:30 am on May 20 with no discussion. Two Assembly Representative, Jeremy Thiesfeldt and Bob Kulp, want homeschoolers to be allowed to participate in public school sports, partly for personal reasons. ( According to Rep. Kulp, his homeschooled sons wanted to participate in public school sports.) Although they both know that the vast majority of homeschoolers oppose this, they have persisted. When Rep. Thiesfeldt failed to find enough co-sponsors for such a bill in 2013, he and Rep. Kulp evidently devised this tactic. This is not how representative government is supposed to work.
(2) About the provision that undermines homeschool diplomas.
Say to the legislator or their aide: Also, please vote to remove the provision that would undermine the validity of homeschool diplomas by singling out only one use for which they are acceptable, namely, as a credential for teacher’s aides in private schools participating in a private school choice program. (#17 in Public Instruction—K-12 Omnibus Motion, page 6).
• This provision implies that a homeschool diploma is invalid unless recognized by Wisconsin statutes for a specific purpose, in this case, employment as a teacher’s aide.
• This provision is unnecessary. Homeschool diplomas have been widely accepted for many years by colleges and universities, federal student loans and scholarships, employers, the military, and others. This provision weakens the acceptance of homeschool diplomas by ignoring the fact that they are already so widely accepted.
Alternative Actions for People Who Would Rather Not Talk With Legislators
Calls are the most effective, but the following are definitely worth doing:
• Call legislators’ offices outside regular office hours and leave a voicemail message.
• Send an email. A short one is fine. When contacting your own legislators, be sure to include your land address so they know you are a constituent.
For more information and suggestions, see and the WPA handbook, Homeschooling in Wisconsin: At Home With Learning Chapter 30, “Working with the Legislature.”
** Other ways to have these provisions removed are much less promising:
(1) The Joint Finance Committee (composed of 12 Republicans and 4 Democrats from the Senate and Assembly) is scheduled to vote on May 29 on the version of the Budget Bill to send to the caucuses. It is very unlikely that this Committee would, at that time, consider changes such as we are requesting, especially since they voted on May 20 to adopt these provisions.
(2) The full Assembly and Senate will vote on the final version of the Budget Bill. However, they will almost certainly vote the whole 1,000 page bill either up or down rather than considering any amendments to such a large bill at that point.
(3) The Governor could use a line item veto to remove provisions from the Budget Bill before he signs it. However, it is unlikely that he could be persuaded to remove these provisions.
Thiesfeldt Email re Homeschool to Sports