Oh So Close!

Last week we continued to work for the passage of SB 929, the Tim Tebow Bill, out of the House Public Education Committee since the deadline was Saturday at midnight to pass Senate bills out of the House. About midweek I spoke directly with Chairman Aycock, who had thus far refused to allow a vote on this bill.

When he asked me how I was, I said, “You tell me. Are you going to let our UIL bill out of committee?”

He then told me that HB 1374 (the House version of the bill) was dead, and I said yes, but SB 929 (the Senate version) was still available for a vote in his committee. When he told me that we did not have the votes, I said that was not my understanding, to which he responded that some did not want to vote on the bill. I told him he should tell them to “man up” and vote. He said he would not do that as chairman, which is a kind way of saying, “I’m not going to allow a vote on your bill.”

On Friday Representative James Frank, who has been working on this bill as if it were his own, asked the speaker of the House to speak to Aycock about the bill. Aycock then told Frank that he would allow a vote if I would give him a written document, on THSC letterhead with my signature, giving him credit for passing the bill out of his committee and assuring that THSC would not “retaliate” against any legislator who voted against the bill or “walked the vote in committee.” (“Walking the vote” is the practice of leaving during the vote to avoid registering a vote for or against a bill.) This was a tacit acknowledgment that we did indeed have enough votes to get the bill out of committee.

Although I was in San Antonio at a home school conference on Friday, we drafted the statement Aycock had given us and presented it to him. And although he was not happy, he moved to suspend the House rules to allow the Public Education Committee to meet that evening at 7 p.m. At the meeting, although a quorum was present, two of our supporters had already left town because the House was not in session on Saturday. No vote was taken because we were one vote short of the six votes needed. As some have noted, if Chairman Aycock had really wanted the bill to pass, he could have asked someone on the committee to vote “yes” just to get the bill to the floor. Obviously, he did not do so.

Saturday was the last day for a Senate bill to pass the Texas House. While time is slipping away, we still have a bill or two in the Senate that we could amend with our SB 929 language. Stay tuned. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!

Comments

  1. Annaleise Hall says

    Many, many of us homeschoolers do not want this bill. It is a very slippery slope when you begin to differentiate between private schools and home schools. If you want UIL participation, go to school.

    • Tim Lambert says

      Many, many home schoolers want this bill and we have been differentiating between home schools and private schools dating back to the 1990s. No one will force anyone to do this. Fear is not a sound reason to limit freedom. Parents should have the right to make that decision.

      • Maley says

        Thank you again, Mr. Lambert for your efforts to fight against the discrimination within the UIL. The league should not be able to continue to exclude families in Texas, who choose a different schooling for their children.

      • Annaleise Hall says

        It is not fear, but rather fact that when you give the government more control over particular rights (in this case home school rights) you end of losing your freedom not gaining it. Why not make the bill about all students in Texas and not just home schooled students? Private schools do not have this “freedom” but that is the choice you make when you choose a private school. I for one do not want to give the TEA, who have very vocally and publicly denounced home schooling, the ability to begin requiring testing of students for any reason.

        • Maley says

          We do not give the government control of our homeschool rights if we do not partake in government regulated entities. If we are homeschooling, we retain our current freedom. If we partake in UIL (which, stating again, is not ruled by TEA), we are governed only in what we are receiving from that very entity. If we choose not to take the SAT and ACT or any other College Board examinations, then we will not be governed by them. But if we do, then we certainly will follow their regulations. College? I would guess that a public college is certainly out of the question for those who oppose this bill. It would require excessive control. Freedom? Is it freedom to watch your children be excluded from activities simply because they are educated on a different campus than their peers? Would it have been freedom to hide behind other private schools, (coming out of the 80′s)? Is it freedom to be excluded based on ethnic background? Would it have been better to not pursue racial freedom because it might not be a pleasant journey?

          I am somewhat confused, Annaleise concerning your platform:
          1. Do you oppose the bill?- “Many, many of us homeschoolers do not want this bill”
          or
          2. Do you want the bill to include all students?- “Why not make the bill about all students in Texas and not just home schooled students?

        • Tim Lambert says

          We have worked for decades to make options for home schoolers available including: requiring State colleges to treat home schoolers the same as public school graduates; requiring public schools to let home schoolers take PSAT testing; requiring community colleges to let home schoolers take dual credit classes just like private and public schools and others. Each of these is a government service and in many cases require testing. Funny how no one opposed these measures on the same basis as opposition to UIL participation. I’ve also pointed out that two private schools in Texas ARE allowed to participate in UIL. The private school UIL participation bill SB 573 does not have the support that our bill does and if we added “all private school students” it would cause the defeat of the bill. Finally, the bureaucrats can not do something they are not allowed to do by law and for that to happen a bill would have to pass both houses and be signed by the governor.

  2. Leslie says

    Wow, I can’t believe how incredibly rude people are.

    I now feel that it does not matter how you explain it to opposers, their own personal fears rule the day in the end.

    Tin foil hat at table #2, please.

    • Annaleise Hall says

      Calling people names does not change the FACTS. I was in no way rude…and no matter how you “explain in to opposers” it does not change the fact that home schooled children who participate in UIL sports will be subject to TEA testing and regulations according to the original senate bill. Did you read it for yourself?

      • Tim Lambert says

        I apologize for the name calling. Will not allow that again. The testing would be a nationally normed achievement test given by a third party not the school or TEA and not the state mandated test required of public school students. Home school students would be subject to all rules applied to public school students except: enrollment in public school; regular attendance and credits required of public school students. Yes, I did read it.

  3. Shannon says

    I read the bill, and I have had my children in to pay private schools and now joyfully homeschool. I went to public school. I see this bill as limiting freedom, not providing it. Anytime you allow government, in this case public school districts an opening they will take mile. This is about a minority wanting to take the easy route. Their are so many private school academic and sports venues there simply is not a need to allow the government in.
    No tin hats here, just pragmatic realism.

    • Tim Lambert says

      Shannon,
      The public schools don’t make law the legislature does. This is about parents wanting to make choices for their children. They just happen to be different ones than you would choose and in many areas of Texas there are no such private school academic and sports venues as you mention. It doesn’t limit freedom because it doesn’t affect you if you don’t want to participate. Not really pragmatic realism, just misinformed.

      • Raquel says

        Tim, I am one of those parents. We live in a rural area and we don’t have the options of private schools available to us. I would love to home school my 4 sons but they have such a passion for sports. My children are in failing schools and I don’t like the direction public school is trying to take them in. This bill will be a lifesaver for our family because it will actually give us a choice that we rarely receive in rural areas. Many time we are just stuck and have to deal with it. With SB929 they will receive the quality education that they deserve as well as staying active in the sports they love. Thank you Tim for all the hard work that you and THSC are doing. God Bless You guys and it’s not over ’til the fat lady sing.

  4. Shannon says

    Tim, the way the law is currently written it gives a lot of authority to the local school districts to decide how to implement them, I know exactly who writes laws, and it is not the legislature it is lawyers and special interest groups. The all areas of Texas are covered by a private opportunity, those parents just may have to drive farther to access it, but guess what, those same areas would be driving to access the UIL groups as well. Also the private groups almost always have under used resources to help parents without deep pockets.
    When was the last time you looked at the areas covered by private academic groups and private sporting groups? A LOT has changed in both those areas in the last 5-10 years.

  5. Vicki Dennis says

    Maley, you said “The league should not be able to continue to exclude families in Texas, who choose a different schooling for their children.” but that is exactly what Tim’s bill does. It carves out children educated at home by their parents (not in private school, not in co-ops, not in parochial school) to be allowed to represent the local district school without being enrolled in the school.

    If this were about non-discrimination regarding different forms of schooling it would have opened tryouts for UIL teams (which include much more than sports!) to ANY school age child living in the district. Including those attending ANY private schools as well a public charter school which often does not have UIL teams.

      • Vicki Dennis says

        Seriously, Tim? That is your reply? Just as I said in the House Education on PUBLIC Education hearing (which you attended) I oppose the bill. Passionately and vehemently. I oppose it philosophically for the reasons I listed above. I also opposed the House bill because it was poorly constructed………I believe “mushy” was the term the committee chuckled with me about.

  6. Grant says

    Mr. Lambert,
    Do you think there is still a legitimate chance for this legislation to get passed whatever way necessary?

    • Tim Lambert says

      The chances are becoming slimmer as the days go by, but we continue to look diligently for options.

      • Mayra says

        I for one, am praying that it will pass. My son is athletically driven, however is not able to play on an organized team for two reasons. 1)The local homeschool sports team in San Antonio limits the team to 10 players, with over 100 kids trying out. 2) Even if he did make the team, the cost is exceedingly high. So for our family this would be a positive thing.

  7. Charron says

    I am in favor of the Tim Tebow bill and frequently hear those oppose say that the bill is poor written. My question to anyone who opposes this bill is how should it read? I personally believe that the wording & stipulations are fair to both home and public school students.

    Additionally, I’m not criticizing or judging anyone, however when I read post from those opposed to this bill the reasoning is based on all the negatives they believe might happen… And I simply ask and what if that doesn’t happen? How can you be sure that it would?

    Either way I’m thankful to God that I’m able to homeschool and trust that regardless of the legislature HE will provide me with every avenue I need to complete this assignment.

  8. Leslie says

    You guys are awesome! Thank you, thank you, thank you! All your hard work is much appreciated….

    This bill will pass one day and people need to get used to it. It *will* happen in time. :)

  9. Brenda says

    Many homeschoolers in our area are hoping the bill passes! I have graduated two children via homeschool already and have two more “in the wings!” And while it is true that my oldest (currently a senior at TCU on an academic scholarship) really didn’t want or need anything the government schools had to offer, child number two really wanted to play 5A football. There are no private schools that compare and scholarship dollars go to these players. He did go full time to our government high school to play and ended up with a full scholarship to college because of it. He attended the school his jr/sr years and then “withdrew” and graduated homeschool. It would have been great if he could have went just for football and continued his academic work at home! Child number three is a nationally ranked competitive swimmer and is being recruited due to exposure via USA Swimming. However, many peers participating in other sports don’t have this opportunity. College expenses are excessive nowadays and many scholarship dollars are awarded via athletics. This is merely one reason many homeschoolers in our area would like to join a top-notch high school athletic team. Another thought, is that we are called to be the salt of the earth… We can’t do that if we just remain in the salt shaker! High school athletics, clubs and other UIL activities are a great opportunity for entire families to be a witness to their local communities. Thank you so much THSC for working towards this goal – you are appreciated!

    • Chris says

      Our family has been homeschooling for 13 years now and for the majority of that time we have been strongly opposed to all things “public school”, most definitely including access to public school sports and programs. We knew that we could give our children a better education than what we received at the hands of the bureaucracy and believed that would be enough. How naive we were to assume that we knew in advance what gifts, talents, and desires our children would have!

      They are all doing very well academically but their real strengths are in other areas; music, theater, and to a lesser degree sports. They do participate in homeschool sports groups and that seems to satisfy their skill level and desires. But short of UIL there are few real competitions for kids in areas of music and acting – certainly none that may lead to college opportunities.

      Passage of this bill would allow our children to pursue their dreams. Outside of their relationships with God and family is there anything more important to a young person finding their way in this world?

      And lest anyone think UIL has nothing to offer academically please read this list I copied straight from the UIL website. I dare say each and every one of us has a child or two that could dominate in several of these categories. And don’t we all feel a sense of satisfaction when we here about homeschooled kids sweeping the National Spelling Bee?

      A+ Academic Events
      • A+ Art – Grades 4-8
      • A+ Calculator Applications – Grades 6-8
      • A+ Chess Puzzle (Pilot) – Grades 2-8
      • A+ Creative Writing – Grade 2
      • A+ Dictionary Skills – Grades 5-8
      • A+ Editorial Writing – Grades 7-8
      • A+ Impromptu Speaking – Grades 7-8
      • A+ Listening – Grades 5-8
      • A+ Maps, Graphs & Charts – Grades 5-8
      • A+ Mathematics – Grades 6-8
      • A+ Modern Oratory – Grades 7-8
      • A+ Music Memory – Grades 3-6
      • A+ Number Sense – Grades 4-8
      • A+ One-Act Play – Grades 6-8
      • A+ Oral Reading – Grades 4-9
      • A+ Ready Writing – Grades 3-8
      • A+ Science – Grades 7-8
      • A+ Social Studies – Grades 5-8
      • A+ Spelling – Grades 3-8
      • A+ Storytelling – Grades 2-3

      In our family we have changed our minds about UIL, largely because of THSC’s campaign to allow us all access. We have sat back quietly becoming educated on the facts and the possibilities, and discussed it nowhere outside of our home and our prayers. We’ve come to the conclusion that allowing homeschooling families the freedom of choice in ALL areas of their children’s education is the right thing to do and this is the right time to do it.

      Yes, we still have doubts. We still wonder what the ‘other shoe’ will hold when it drops. But the homeschool “community” has shown it’s power before. Consider the results we’ve seen when we all call our representatives. Do we doubt our ability to make those phone calls in the future? Do we doubt the dedication of THSC and their promise to protect our rights?

      Something I for one cannot doubt is this; Tim Lambert is in the position that God has designed just for him. He has been well equipped to lead this fight along with so many others he and his team have taken on. I am content to allow him to – under the guidance of the Lord – to lead the way. My job is to pray for Tim and his team, for the lawmakers of this state and country, and to get on with my daily business of educating, shepherding, counseling, chauffeuring, cheering, grading, consoling, coaching, feeding, refereeing, planning, researching……

  10. Leslie says

    I don’t understand why Aycock would want the credit for allowing it to go through, ie signed document (the glory?) if he previously seemed proud for allowing it to die un his committee….

    • Tim Lambert says

      I believe he is concerned about an effort we could make to oppose his reelection, as we did against the previous chairman. Therefore he wanted to be able to say, when the bill passed, that I said in writing that it was due to his efforts. Since we were short two supporters, it did not pass.

  11. Kim Hartman says

    Tim, I’m glad you at least finally made reference to the name calling. It’s been going on in the THSC threads way too often. People seem to be so desperate to ‘get theirs’ that they are forgetting their manners and respect for their fellow homeschoolers. The wedge being driven within our community is disturbing. I sure wish there was more effort towards common goals. I would think it would certainly work more to your favor in engendering active support for parental rights bills and efforts like H.J.R. 45. (Although, I would have opposed that bill as written because asking for a favorable vote for homeschooling amongst the general public is folly. That should have been pursued as a straight up bill.)
    Tim Lambert
    May 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm
    Reply
    I apologize for the name calling. Will not allow that again. The testing would be a nationally normed achievement test given by a third party not the school or TEA and not the state mandated test required of public school students. Home school students would be subject to all rules applied to public school students except: enrollment in public school; regular attendance and credits required of public school students. Yes, I did read it.

    • Tim Lambert says

      We have focused on many issues that have seen virtually no opposition in the home school community like the TPRRA and opposition to SB 303 as just a couple of examples.

  12. Liz says

    I will chime in as another voice of opposition. Texas homeschoolers are protected by some of best laws in the union. We are not talking about gaining educational rights for our children if the Tebow bill passes. We’re talking about kids playing public school sports and jeopardizing our rights to home educate them in order to do so. Sports?? Really?? That’s worth it?? Rediculous. If my kids want to play sports they can do so via private organizations or homeschool groups (and I have 5 kids, 2 in high school). If you want your kid to play highschool football, put them in highschool.

    If you aren’t fearful of loosing your rights then you’re terribly short sited and quite possibly irresponsible. We are facing a government that is increasingly hostile towards parental rights and educational freedom. I find it terribly sad that parents would be willing to allow government infringement so their kid can play football. Once the state starts testing and regulating a small percentage of the homeschool population it’s just a short leap for them to find a reason to test and regulate everyone. If the kids trying out for sports don’t represent homeschoolers well, how do you think that will impact those of us who wanted nothing to do with any of this?

    Why should MY rights be jeopardized for public school sports??

    • Tim Lambert says

      Liz,

      Let’s not call people who disagree with your position irresponsible. The basis for our defense of home schooling has always been the fundamental right of parents to direct the care, control and upbringing of their children. We believe that parents should have the right to make educational decisions for their children.

      As you have so clearly demonstrated, we will not all agree on what is best for children, but from a public policy perspective we believe we should let the parents make those decisions rather than a government bureaucracy. This bill would simply allow the home school parent to make that decision instead of school superintendents.

      We have aggressively sought changes in the law to: prevent Texas colleges from discriminating against home school graduates for admission; require community colleges to treat home schools the same as public schools for dual credit classes; prohibit CPS from targeting home school families; requiring public schools to allow home school students to take the PSAT test in the local public school; requiring the courts to treat home school students the same as public school students for child support and this session we are working for the third session to amend the grandparent access statute to restore the parental rights of fit single parents.

      Furthermore, attacks on our freedom to home school do not happen in a vacuum. Bureaucrats can’t do that on their own. Our opponents will have to pass a bill in the Texas House and Senate and get the governor to sign it into law and that is why we spend so much time and money during the legislative session…to make sure that doesn’t happen.

      For over 25 years our organization has worked to change laws that discriminate or harm home schoolers and at the same time worked to defend individual home schoolers when they are the target of government officials. Doing one does not negate the other. This will not change regardless of whether or not the Tim Tebow bill becomes law. Officials will still ignore the law and we will still aggressively hold them accountable but that is not a legitimate reason to oppose a bill that gives home school families more freedom.

    • Maley says

      Liz,
      Do your children want to participate in sports? Do your children want to participate in musical and arts activities? Do your children want to participate in debate or tech/computer competitions? Perhaps dance, or culinary competitions. Writing competitions? Maybe they are content never competing. What about competing to enter a certain college?
      What size community do you live in?
      It is sad to be ridiculed just because my children are all talented athletes-developing talents that the Lord placed into their very being.

      We represent the families who DID place their children into public highschool so that they could pursue their dreams of competition-in a community of 2,000 and as the only homeschool family within a 30 mile radius, AND 120 miles from the nearest homeschool league.

      Being short-sited and irresponsible is definitely not synonymous with our family’s visions and goals. It was extremely difficult to give up educating our children full-time in our home. We did not forfeit teaching them just because they spent most of their day at another facility.
      I am very thankful for the freedoms we have to choose, but obviously, as homeschoolers, we still do not have the freedom to select all the educational choices, that public schooled students possess. It is our opinion that educating an individual encompasses the whole person. I would imagine that if parents have children who are supernaturally endowed with musical talents, that there would be concessions made to provide opportunities to help them “walk in” those talents. The body is not just made up of the mind. To ignore parts of our children’s God-given gifts would be ignoring that they are completely spiritual, physical and emotional beings. If my children were gifted in the “arts”, we would help them with the same passion we have with their sports.

      Freedom is not free. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. That
      freedom came from His death and Resurrection. The freedoms we have as Americans have been fought for us by other people. Tim Lambert and many others have sacrificed for numerous years in order to gain our parental and homeschool freedoms. We will not have our freedoms handed to us. We must continue to fight. Whether or not we agree with THSC concerning this bill- it is not about sports, but about our children’s freedom to pursue their talents and giftings.

      Furthermore; who out there understands that UIL is its own entity? It t is not a component of TEA, but rather dictates to our public schools its own rules of eligibility and competition. We merely want UIL to extend those requirements to homeschoolers, as well.

      We do not choose to be fearful; we choose to fight.
      And football? Is it not the same as hearing your child sing at state competition, watching your child perform on theatrical stages,seeing your child build a motor or run barrels? – all to be celebrated,
      because they have pursued their dreams, and along the way, built more character.

    • Ginny says

      Have you done the research on what UIL includes? To state it is just about sports and then calling it ridiculous does not support your stance and is ironically what you term “short sided”.

      I’ll provide a link to help you out. I highly suggest everyone read it. Don’t let the name “Tebow” sidetrack you from truth.

      To state this is all about sports is ludicrous at the very least.

      http://www.uiltexas.org/about

  13. says

    Thanks to all of you at THSC for your efforts on this bill. I will be calling the Senator’s office again. This would be such a blessing to those of us who wish our children to participate in UIL music and academic competitions.

  14. Susan says

    We have seven children, four of whom have graduated fron our family’s homeschool. It would have been so great to have had access to musical and sports programs for them, as two were athletically gifted and two were musically gifted. Having access to UIL academic competition would have been such an opprtunity, as well.

    For those families who live in large metropolitan areas, access to extracurricular activities through Homeschool coops or private organizations is a wonderful option. However, it really is a different world in small towns and rural areas. Our family lives in a rural area with extremely limited options for competitive extracurricular activities such a sports or fine arts. Little League type sports leagues assume students will play school sports when they reach middle school age, so the opportunities to participate vanish when honeschooled kids reach 7th grade.

    Some of our kids are musically talented. Having quality programs open to them would be such an asset. UIL events include opportunities in fine arts and academic competitions. It’s really much more than just sports!

    We have tried participating in private school academic and musical competitions, but it is extremely difficult to drive 200 miles for contests, not to mention extremely costly.

    I realize not everyone wants or needs UIL participation for their children, but please don’t deny it to those families who do. If the UIL participation bill did pass, participation would be voluntary. Those families with better options would be free to continue them. This bill simply tries to give the rest of us opportunities for our kids, too.

    Thank you, Tim Lambert and THSC for your hard work on this bill.

  15. says

    Tim,
    Thank you thank you for your hard work on behalf of home educated students and their families. I don’t see this as limiting freedom or giving the government more control, but as ending discrimination against home educated students in the area of UIL sports. As we go back and research the history of UIL, there have been times it was more open to diversified student participation and times it was more exclusive. My feeling is that families whose children are not terribly interested in sports don’t tend to support this bill. But schools have to provide services to students in their district for special needs. Whether we have a special needs child or not, we should support those who do and are on need of these services such as speech therapy. We do pay a school taxes and I believe our children should have equal access to sports participation. We should not have to choose between attending public high school and playing sports. I hope and pray this bill passes. I’ve graduated 4 who would have loved to play high school sports, but chose not to attend public high school. I have several children who probably have enough talent in different areas to get a sports scholarship (swimming, track, baseball) and we would love the opportunity to participate in UIL activities.

  16. tara says

    Let us know what we need to do to help you. thank you for all you do! See you at the convention!

  17. Ginny says

    Mr. Lambert,

    Good afternoon. You had previously stated “While time is slipping away, we still have a bill or two in the Senate that we could amend with our SB 929 language”. I was wondering how that is going for you guys…and is there anything we can do or anyone we can call?….or is it officially “dead” now?

    Thanks,
    Ginny

    • Tim Lambert says

      Ginny,
      SB 929 is dead, but we are hoping that we will have an opportunity in the special session that the Governor called starting yesterday to raise the issue again. We’ll keep you posted as things develop and action is necessary. Please continue to pray.

      • Michele says

        We are praying! Please let us know what we can do to help at this point. My son went back to public school in the 9th grade so he could participate in theater, cross country, and track. He enters his junior year next year and we really want to homeschool again. He has a great theater program at his school with Christian teachers. One of his theater teachers even home schools her own children. He is a theater officer and was voted Best Actor this school year. He also made district in track on varsity. So, we know he has a lot of scholarship potential that may be hindered if we pull him out. Our hearts really want to homeschool again, but the choice is killing me! We are praying so hard of this bill to make it somehow. Please, please, let us know how we can help!

  18. Ginny says

    Keep watching Perry information. Plllllllllllease let us know if anything happens and of course when the fat lady sings. :)