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Public Supports Homeschooled Students Playing Public School Sports

Four out of five Americans believe homeschooled students should have the opportunity to participate in public school sports, according to a new poll from Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa.

The annual education survey from the two organizations, which polled a national sample of 1,001 American adults, touched on a wide range of issues, which you can read more about here. (Notably, nearly two-thirds of Americans have never heard of the Common Core State Standards.)

Of interest to the K-12 sports crowd, however, should be the question posed about homeschooled students' participation in public school sports. Public school parents were even more in support of the idea than the national sample, with 85 percent saying such students should be allowed to play.

The issue of homeschooled students' access to public school sports has heated up in recent years. Earlier this year, the Indiana High School Athletic Association decided to allow such students to begin competing on public school sports teams starting this school year. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslem also signed a bill back in April that permits homeschooled students to compete in public school sports starting this school year, too.

These so-called "Tebow bills" get their nickname from current New England Patriots backup quarterback Tim Tebow, who was homeschooled in Florida but played football for a public school team.

While homeschooled student-athletes in Tennessee and Indiana may be joining their public school peers this fall, the same can't be said about those in Texas. The state Senate approved a "Tebow bill" by a 21-7 vote in April, according to the Dallas Morning News, but the House version of the bill was left pending in committee.

The homeschool finding wasn't the only sports-related item in the PDK/Gallup poll. The survey also asked respondents the following question: "I would like your opinion about activities such as the school band, drama, sports, and the school newspaper. Would you say these school activities are very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important to a young person's education?"

The national totals haven't changed much over the past 16 years. Sixty-three percent of the national sample called such activities "very important" in both 1997 and 2013, but more called them "somewhat important" in 2013 (31 percent) than in 1997 (27 percent).

Public school parents, meanwhile, were even more supportive of such activities. Ninety-seven percent of parents said these activities were either very important (66 percent) or somewhat important (31 percent).

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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