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Home Schoolers/Spelling Bee ?


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I have a question...no, a dilemma. I have taken on the task of organizing a local spelling bee for home schoolers. For almost 15 years a local bee has taken place with home school students earning a spot in the County Bee.

Last year a home school family registered with Scripps as their own school. Their reason for doing so is that a home school student dominated both local and County Bees year after year. The kid was amazing - so much so that other students both home school and public/private schools were very frustrated that no one else was winning. This particular family had a 2nd grade student who took 2nd at the local Bee, losing to the boy who dominated the Bee for years. Given her obvious talent the family decided that their daughter deserved to be in the County Bee and had earned the right to compete, so they registered with Scripps. As their dd was the automatic winner she went to the County Bee (where she did very well although she did not win). There was much discussion regarding this policy for a few reasons.

1. Only home schoolers are allowed to register as their own school. A student at a public school cannot decide that they are good enough for the County Bee and register independently.
2. Not all home schoolers can register independently as the $160 fee is out of reach for many.
3. Registering privately allows a student to "compete" in the safety/comfort of their own home. There is no pressure to stand up in front of a group or to compete against other students.

I'm struggling with what home schoolers are allowed to do. Part of this comes from the fact that my own dd was once runner-up to the boy who always won and we were OK with that. It didn't occur to me to somehow go around the winner the following year so as to get my kid in the County Bee. But I'm not very smart that way...

What say you all? Should home schoolers be required to compete in an organized local home school spelling bee in order to compete in the County Bee? Or should home schoolers be allowed to register as their own school? If home schoolers are allowed to register privately should public/private school students also be allowed to do so, especially if they are runners-up in the school Bee? If home schoolers can register as their own school, should they be reimbursed for the fee as other schools are (district fee of $160)?

On another note...the mom of the kid who registered privately and went to the County Bee is taking great offense that her kid is referred to as an "automatic winner." Good grief, can't we all just get along...and call things what they are?? I mean the mom did what she did in order to guarantee that her dd won...automatically.
 

Edited by BakersDozen
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First off, I don't really see how this is a dilemma for you as the organizer of the local homeschool bee. What families decide to do individually is not your concern; you organize the competition and let people sign up to participate. Or is there some aspect of it that you have to make a decision about? I just don't really understand where your dilemma is.

As to whether Scripps should have a policy allowing homeschooled students to be registered as their own school - I think it makes sense to have it. NOT having such a policy would mean that homeschooled students in rural areas, or just areas where there aren't many homeschoolers, would not be allowed to participate at all. I'd rather see people using it to their advantage than see people unable to take part because they don't have enough interested homeschoolers nearby. And truly, the child DOES have to compete against others publicly, just at the county level first. 

One thing I don't understand: Did the girl come in 2nd place and then that same year the family registered as their own school? Or did they register as their own school the following year? If it was the same year, that seems to me like it should be against the rules (having a chance at the county bee through more than one school/organization), and I would contact Scripps if it isn't. If it was the next year, whatever. It isn't what I'd do, because it teaches the child lessons that I don't want to teach my kids, but it's that family's choice.

Okay, actually, after I typed all that, I went to the spelling bee website and looked at the FAQ. It talks about parents registering individual homeschools but qualifies it with "If a home school student lives in an area with no home school association, group, or co-op." (And it's slightly cheaper - $110 instead of the $160 for the group.) So that sounds like it actually IS against the rules, because they DO have a local option for participation. 

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3 hours ago, purpleowl said:

Okay, actually, after I typed all that, I went to the spelling bee website and looked at the FAQ. It talks about parents registering individual homeschools but qualifies it with "If a home school student lives in an area with no home school association, group, or co-op." (And it's slightly cheaper - $110 instead of the $160 for the group.) So that sounds like it actually IS against the rules, because they DO have a local option for participation. 

Our state law considers home schools as their own private school. I don’t see how they could require us to participate with a co-op in order to participate in the spelling bee. I wouldn’t really even know how to get in touch with the local co-ops. I do think it would be beneficial to participate against other homeschoolers before participating in the county bee though. 

We run into this with our cross country team. We can participate in most meets as homeschoolers, but the big meets like the regional and state championships are only open to schools who are members of the state athletic association.  Individuals and homeschool teams can run only if their coach is a member. That requires fees and specific training which also costs money. This does eliminate some homeschoolers from being able to participate, but I don’t think it’s unfair. I could technically start my own athletic association and only allow homeschoolers. There are specific rules in place that keep a student that attends a school from competing as an individual. Apparently a local high school didn’t have a cross country team for awhile so some students were training with another school and competing as individuals, that isn’t allowed.

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Is it beneficial to compete with other homeschoolers before a larger bee? Yes. The nerves of standing up to compete in front of others, the figuring out whether you’re really the best out of a small group - those are things the small bees are good for.

Do all homeschoolers have that option? No. I lived in a smaller town until a year ago, and there was no homeschool group that held a bee. Academic homeschoolers were rare, let alone ones that had kids wanting to compete academically. A spelling bee was one of the things my kid most wanted to do, and she was so disappointed there were no options for her.

It’s not like the people who are semi-circumventing the rules are being automatically admitted to the National Bee. They’re just going to a local county bee. I simply don’t see the big deal, or why this needs to be thought of as a dilemma. The kid is just going to be spelled down in a slightly bigger arena against even better kids.

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First off, I don't really see how this is a dilemma for you as the organizer of the local homeschool bee. What families decide to do individually is not your concern; you organize the competition and let people sign up to participate. Or is there some aspect of it that you have to make a decision about? I just don't really understand where your dilemma is.

I guess my dilemma is that I am being pressed from many sides regarding this. Public school friends/parents are asking me about the policy (I direct them to Scripps but that doesn't change that they think I make the rules). Home school families are pressing me as they don't have the money to compete on their own yet feel that this may be an option they should have. So the dilemma is in my own head I guess because I just hate conflict and liked it when there was one local Bee, easy peasy, done.

The family registered the following year, after their dd took 2nd.

Thanks for your input, ladies. I got emails late last night so I was already tired and just got overwhelmed with what I was reading from various families.

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When I asked Scripps how to sign up home schoolers, they told me that *ALL* home schooled students in my determined geographical area counted as 1 "school" for spelling bee purposes. So in my state, I organized a home school spelling bee, opened it to ALL home schooled students in our area, and we held a school bee, sending 1 winner (and naming 1 runner-up) to the state-level bee. I paid the initial fee, and then charged each family $10.

I'm surprised it's not the same across the country.

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1 hour ago, Lucy the Valiant said:

When I asked Scripps how to sign up home schoolers, they told me that *ALL* home schooled students in my determined geographical area counted as 1 "school" for spelling bee purposes. So in my state, I organized a home school spelling bee, opened it to ALL home schooled students in our area, and we held a school bee, sending 1 winner (and naming 1 runner-up) to the state-level bee. I paid the initial fee, and then charged each family $10.

I'm surprised it's not the same across the country.

I’ve never done a spelling bee but how do you keep CC or some other homeschool group from doing their own spelling bee in your area and sending their own representatives?  How do you become the official homeschool spelling bee?

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2 hours ago, BakersDozen said:

I guess my dilemma is that I am being pressed from many sides regarding this. Public school friends/parents are asking me about the policy (I direct them to Scripps but that doesn't change that they think I make the rules). Home school families are pressing me as they don't have the money to compete on their own yet feel that this may be an option they should have. So the dilemma is in my own head I guess because I just hate conflict and liked it when there was one local Bee, easy peasy, done.

The family registered the following year, after their dd took 2nd.

Thanks for your input, ladies. I got emails late last night so I was already tired and just got overwhelmed with what I was reading from various families.

I guess what I’m reading is that you offer an option for homeschool families. Scripps in your area is apparently also allowing homeschoolers to register as an individual school. You can’t control what individuals choose to do. If the local Scripps (area? state?) is not applying the rules correctly, it will eventually catch up to that family. 

If you want to continue to offer your Bee for homeschoolers, do it. If people don’t like the way you are operating, next year they can do their own.  If people are complaining to you about how Scripps is handling the rules, politely stop the conversation and tell them to address it with Scripps. 

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2 hours ago, BakersDozen said:

I guess my dilemma is that I am being pressed from many sides regarding this. Public school friends/parents are asking me about the policy (I direct them to Scripps but that doesn't change that they think I make the rules). Home school families are pressing me as they don't have the money to compete on their own yet feel that this may be an option they should have. So the dilemma is in my own head I guess because I just hate conflict and liked it when there was one local Bee, easy peasy, done.

The family registered the following year, after their dd took 2nd.

Thanks for your input, ladies. I got emails late last night so I was already tired and just got overwhelmed with what I was reading from various families.

I agree with @Rachel then - you just tell people, "I'm running a local bee for homeschoolers according to the Scripps guidelines. I'm not sure why the Smith family decided to register separately; you're welcome to ask them about the route they took if you want to. Here's how to sign up for the bee I'm organizing." Scripps will speak up if they have a problem with it.

You mentioned something in the original post about the fees being reimbursed - reimbursed by whom? Direct these inquisitive parents to ask that person/organization. 

If they choose to register independently, it's not affecting how many students your group (or any other group/school) can send to the county bee, is it?

I do understand how frustrating it is when you're organizing something and then there's a thing that's out of your control but people think you should be able to answer questions about it. I have been in that position more than once! You will make it through. *hugs*

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17 hours ago, Rachel said:

I’ve never done a spelling bee but how do you keep CC or some other homeschool group from doing their own spelling bee in your area and sending their own representatives?  How do you become the official homeschool spelling bee?

When I asked if anyone else was doing it (that we could join), Scripps told me no home schoolers in my geographically-designated area were registered for that year. So I "organized" a group (virtually), and . . . I have no idea if any other group has joined / wanted to join since then. Our local librarians have been very helpful, both with administrating the bee as well as publicizing it, and they continue to run it every year (with my name attached as the organizer, because librarians can't technically organize home schoolers, according to Scripps). There very well may be another home school group doing it in my area, but I'm not sure how I would even know? 

A quick peek at Scripps' FAQ's seems to indicate that they do allow more than one home school group to register, which does make sense to me. For the OP, I don't really understand the dilemma, as the decision-making is all done by Scripps . . . if a family wants to pay the fee and by-pass the local bee because their child can't beat the champion, then isn't their child just going to get out-spelled by said champion at the county / state level anyway? 

Personally, I wanted to just sign my daughter up at the local elementary school, but Scripps does not allow that (for reasons I still don't really understand). I can't think of a way that revising their current home schools would make it any more fair for home schoolers?

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On 9/25/2018 at 9:15 AM, Rachel said:

Our state law considers home schools as their own private school. I don’t see how they could require us to participate with a co-op in order to participate in the spelling bee. I wouldn’t really even know how to get in touch with the local co-ops. I do think it would be beneficial to participate against other homeschoolers before participating in the county bee though. 

We run into this with our cross country team. We can participate in most meets as homeschoolers, but the big meets like the regional and state championships are only open to schools who are members of the state athletic association.  Individuals and homeschool teams can run only if their coach is a member. That requires fees and specific training which also costs money. This does eliminate some homeschoolers from being able to participate, but I don’t think it’s unfair. I could technically start my own athletic association and only allow homeschoolers. There are specific rules in place that keep a student that attends a school from competing as an individual. Apparently a local high school didn’t have a cross country team for awhile so some students were training with another school and competing as individuals, that isn’t allowed.

Are you in California?

You would be able to participate with a support group, yes? Which is different from a co-op. If you're in California, aren't most of the support groups listed with one of the three statewide associations?

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For many years my teen dd participated in our homeschool group's spelling bee. Every time, she would go up against one particular boy who was phenomenal. They would go round after round, but in the end he would win. It was disappointing to her, but he was better than she was. And every time, he would go on to win the regional bee and then place very high at the national bee. It was only when he moved to public middle school that dd was able to win the homeschool bee, but she was still the runner-up to him at the regional bee. 

This is a common problem in highly-educated areas with competitive bees. I have friends who have complained that their child will never win the school bee or have a chance to go to the regional bee, because there is a phenom in the same grade as her. That's life. Sometimes there is someone better than you. Living in an educated area with good schools and resources often means going up against tougher competition. If you don't like it, feel free to relocate to a rural area with a less competitive regional bee.

It's news to me that there's a work-around like this for homeschoolers, and I don't think it's very sporting for homeschool parents to use it to get around a competitor. But that kid will just lose to the competitor at the county or regional level so there isn't really any harm done. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

I do like that Scripps is trying to find ways to include as many kids as possible - especially those who otherwise don't have access to the spelling bee. For a variety of reasons, our homeschool group now refuses to organize or run the spelling bee. I have not been able to convince anyone to take on the project, and it was my understanding that I couldn't run it if I had a child competing. I have a little guy that would love to participate so I will have to look into the changes in the rules to see what's possible for our family.

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I find this interesting because when DD was interested, the local homeschool bee only let middle schoolers go on, and wouldn’t let her play up-she had to compete at her official grade.  After three years of coming in first without being at all challenged, she was done (partly, I think, because of all the comments and side eyes she got from the moms). I knew local elementary schools let kids go on if they won,  and contacted Scripps to look at options (I assume she would have lost at the regional bee, but at least she wouldn’t be beating all the other kids before even getting to words that were slightly challenging),and I was told that since there was a homeschool bee open to all homeschoolers, she had to do that one.  If I could have paid and entered her as a school by herself, I would have. Luckily, the ACL was more than willing to let her do the National Classical Etymology Exam as an elementary age kid-and that provided more than enough difficulty to feed her word nerd needs. 

Ironically, even if she wanted to do spelling bee now that she’s middle school aged, she’d be ineligible. She has too many high school and college classes (and did even as a 6th grader).

 

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On 9/26/2018 at 12:58 PM, MinivanMom said:

<snip>

I do like that Scripps is trying to find ways to include as many kids as possible - especially those who otherwise don't have access to the spelling bee. For a variety of reasons, our homeschool group now refuses to organize or run the spelling bee. I have not been able to convince anyone to take on the project, and it was my understanding that I couldn't run it if I had a child competing. I have a little guy that would love to participate so I will have to look into the changes in the rules to see what's possible for our family.

 

In my state, I can organize it if I have a child competing, but I cannot administrate it (read the words / hear the spellers). That's why I initially approached our librarian, and she kind of took it from there (which I VERY much appreciate). Maybe it's similar in your area?

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