Home School UIL Bill Passes Senate Committee

Yesterday the Texas Senate Education Committee voted to pass SB 929, the “Tim Tebow Bill” that will allow home school students to participate in UIL activities in the school district in which they reside. The vote was 7-1, with one senator not voting.

The language of the bill was amended to include the definition of home schooling that is in the Texas Education Code (29.916) and to require the measure to be “sunset,” or reauthorized, in four years. The measure will move to the Senate floor if 21 senators support it, which we think will happen within the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime Chairman Aycock of the House Public Education Committee has told us the House version of this measure (HB 1374) will have a hearing on April 9. We expect to have testimony, in support and also in opposition, at this hearing, similar to what we heard in the Senate Education Committee last week. We believe we already have a majority of the members of the House Public Education Committee in support of this bill.

Some home schoolers have opposed these bills, arguing that they would lead to the regulation of all home schoolers in Texas. We disagree. We do agree that every time the legislature is in session our home school freedoms are at risk and that we must be vigilant. In fact, almost every session there are attempts to pass legislation that would erode our parental rights and freedom to home school, and that is why THSC is always on the alert to oppose any such legislation. Whether or not home schoolers are allowed to take part in UIL, there will continue to be efforts to limit our home school freedom.

While opponents argue that passing these bills into law will result in a loss of home school freedoms, they fail to note that over the last two decades we have seen a number of state legislative changes, including requiring public schools to allow home school students to take the PSAT in public schools, allowing home school students to take dual credit classes in community colleges, and requiring state colleges to treat home school graduates the same as public high school graduates for college admission.

Some opponents also argue that home schoolers should not be distinguished from traditional private school students. However, as I’ve mentioned, this is already the case in the Texas Education Code. In fact, in the 1990s HSDLA filed a federal lawsuit in San Antonio in the Perez case to argue that the Federal Gun Free School Zone Act passed by Congress should not apply to home schools because they are different from traditional schools.

None of these issues have resulted in the loss of our freedom to home school. While we should be vigilant to protect that freedom, we should not allow fear to keep us from expanding the freedom of home school students in Texas.


  1. Aaron & Amy Fortenberry says

    I might support this bill if it permitted homeschool student participation with no additional requirements. Our children should be able to participate simply because we are Texans and pay school taxes… Nothing more. They are either “public” schools , or they aren’t. By agreeing to require our children to pass their tests with an average score is essentially agreeing to require our children to learn their curriculum, values, standards, etc…
    In our case, that would totally defeat the purpose of homeschooling. We are called (even commanded) by God to train our children according to His standards, His values, His ways… Not according to that which pleases man, government, board of education, etc…
    We have serious concerns that this bill is a compromise with a system that doesn’t always have our children’s best interests (according to God’s standards) in mind. Requiring families to test their children according to any standard other than their own, is not an expansion of freedom. It is a removal of freedom. The UIL event itself is the test of skill or ability… No additional academic standard should be imposed… Ever…
    Should Texas homeschoolers be permitted to participate? If they are Texan and are students of a home which pays school taxes, then Yes. We don’t believe any compromise should be necessary.
    It reminds me of Israel when God delivered them from Egypt & Pharaoh. As soon as they reached the free side of the Red Sea they praised God and wanted to serve Him. God began leading them into a life of freedom away from the false gods of Egypt and servanthood under the oppressive controlling hand of pharoah. But it didn’t take long until the Israelites got a little hungry & a little thirsty and began looking back toward Egypt when their pots were full and bread was plenty. They would have gladly placed themselves back under slavery in exchange for a meal or two… All the while God just wanted them to follow His lead and quit looking back. We all know how the story goes. They did indeed keep looking back and ended up back in slavery…
    I think this bill is a way of looking back… It’s simply not worth the risk or compromise. God is leading us in a direction of freedom. There is no UIL event worth trading that.

    • Tim Lambert says

      Aaron and Amy,

      I’d also prefer a bill that didn’t require anything other than the parent signing off that the student is passing and that can be done under this bill after the first six weeks, but our goal is to get the law passed to allow parents to make the choice. If, like you, they decide its not worth it then no one is going to make them put their children in UIL. The test required is a national test that does not track curriculum like the TAKS or STAAR tests that track public school curriculum in Texas. We can disagree on whether or not this is a good idea for our family, but I believe we ought to pass the bill to give home schoolers a choice.

  2. Josie S says

    When my children were in public school in the 1990’s I think it was documented that 85% of HISD students could not score on grade level in the CAT nor IOWA basic skills test. More than half of the children in the State of Texas could not perform on grade level. At that time districts stop testing children using these instruments and began to use a Texas base test TEAMS, TAAS and so on. This requirement for homeschoolers to perform on or above grade level in these test instruments do not level the playing field as stated.

    • Tim Lambert says

      I agree that the standard is high, but we did not want to require home schoolers to take the state mandated test that tracks curriculum. Perhaps we should add that as an option.

  3. Ann Beadel says

    I would have loved for our homeschooler to have had this opportunity. Our local school has an outstanding fine arts department that we simply could not replicate—music, speech and drama, etc. Our student chose public school for his senior year and did very well, excelling in the UIL academic events, advancing all the way to state. Wouldn’t it be nice if he could have had that opportunity sooner without having to actually go back to public school… (Btw, that student is now an attorney…)

  4. Rachel says

    The tests that will be required for participation are ones that have been used by home schoolers for 20 years. The tests are ones that most home schoolers I know give their students anyway. They, in no way, restrict our ability to teach our children in the way they should go. Public school students must prove eligibility; private school students must prove eligibility. We should not be asking for special rights as home schoolers, just equal rights!

    Thanks, Tim! You’re doing a great job!

  5. Walter Dale says

    We are in support of this bill. As a guy who used to coach high school athletics and later a Christian home school football team before I had kids and now home schools his kids, this is a great thing. I have no issues with my kids taking standardized test for mastery of academic subjects. I do not see the conflict of Gods standards. In fact in Romans it states:
    1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

    We choose to homeschool our kids so that we know they hear all theories of creation and obtain a solid education that will allow them to lead full lives while also obtaining a Christian education. It is not against the law to homeschool but passing standard test is a law of the schools to determine eligibility. I see no conflict. In fact I see this an opportunity for many Christian Homeschoolers to have a platform for witness through participation in in extra curricular activities. I want my kids to have the best education, full lives and Christian principles and have no issues with them taking any standardized test to gauge their academic progress.

    We strongly support the Tim Tebow bill!

    Walter Dale- Pearland Texas.

  6. Ali says

    I am hoping this bill will pass. I grew up in Florida, and I was so disappointed when we had kids and moved out here and found out that they don’t allow homeschoolers to participate and try out for teams with area schools. My home schooled cousins in Florida were on a swim team with their area high school and they even got to go to state level and recieve trophies for first and second place. It was a wonderful experience and oppurtunity for them! I hope when my children are a little older, the oppurtunity will be there for them too.

    • Tim Lambert says

      As I have said in other posts our freedom is at risk when the legislature is in session! This fellow tries to make the point that some bills were filed to regulate home schooling after the passage of “Tebow Laws” but those kinds of bills are filed every year and in many states and would be filed whether or not these bills become law. We don’t have freedom because we hide and don’t make any requests to change laws to make things better for home schools.

      We have freedom in Texas because we sued the state in the 1980s in the Leeper case and prevailed at the Texas Supreme Court. Interestingly we also had home schoolers oppose the filing of that lawsuit arguing that it would lead to a loss of more freedom. They were wrong.

  7. Alan Day says

    The Tebow Bill will definitely hurt homeschool sports organizations, but it is probably something that individual homeschoolers support because of the lower participation cost and greater opportunities. It is no coincidence that states that allow homeschoolers to participate in UIL activities – like Iowa, Colorado, Florida — do not have strong homeschool sports organizations?

    I do know that the Iowa version of the “Tebow Bill” does not allow any homeschool credit to be used for a public school diploma.

    • Tim Lambert says

      If you live in a part of the state with no home school sports groups you have no options. This bill will give more choices and opportunities which is a good thing. It would not be a good policy decision to deny this option for all home schoolers in Texas to protect organizations that were established to give home schoolers opportunities not available to them because of exclusion from UIL and TAPPS.

      In Texas the home school will still issue the diploma and therefore the credits and curriculum requirements that apply to public school students will not apply to home school students.

  8. Alan Day says

    I agree. I’m 100% for the Tebow Bill because it give each home school family more choices.

  9. Susan says

    Our family lives in a rural area, and there are opportunities for kids to play organized sports in Little League, soccer, etc, only while the kids are young. However, once the kids reach Jr. High, those opportunities are greatly diminished because the sports leagues assume that kids will play sports in the local school program.

    We do have a small local homeschool support group, but it does not include sports or fine-arts enrichment activities. We have tried participating in private school versions of U.I.L. Academics and U.I.L. Solo & Ensemble, but it’s very difficult to drive 4 hours to Dallas or Houston for a contest, plus the cost of transportation, meals, and a hotel. In our area, there is no realistic option at all to participate in most team sports past the 7th grade. The logical choice, in my opinion, is to allow all students to participate in activities that their parents’ taxes have paid for.

    Even if we personally choose to not participate in school U.I.L events, the fact that privately educated children are discrimated against proves that homeschoolers are not treated equally under the law, and I believe that is wrong. I hope the time has finally come to “make right this wrong.”