Part of what has made Texas so great in terms of home schooling is that we don’t wait for challenges to arise–we take the initiative and actively fight to promote home schooling rights for families all across Texas!
This legislative session, THSC supports the Tim Tebow bill, which would allow home schooled students, who may not have as many options for extracurricular sports activities in their area as public school students, the ability to participate in their public school district’s University Interscholastic League (UIL) activities. This post will answer frequently asked questions about the bill.
1. Would Texas home schoolers benefit from this bill?
Yes! In fact, a petition started by a home school parent just a few weeks ago has since garnered almost 1000 signatures, with dozens of home school parents voicing their support of the Tim Tebow bill. Families in Texas, especially in rural areas, often don’t have access to sports, fine arts, or other extracurricular programs for their children, which negatively affects their education. Clearly, many home schooling families in Texas want the Tim Tebow bill for their children and could benefit from the opportunity it provides.
2. Will the Tim Tebow bill increase regulations on home schoolers?
No, it will not. While some home schoolers have expressed concerns regarding an increase of regulation for home schooling, the facts, thankfully, indicate otherwise: as evidenced by over half the states in the country that have similar laws, home schooling has not been regulated as a result of such policies in a single one of them. This makes sense, because the Tim Tebow bill does not require any families to participate in UIL–it simply gives them the choice to do so. No one is required to participate, and if a family doesn’t wish to apply for UIL, they don’t have to meet any of the eligibility requirements. Historically, no state has ever had an increase of regulation on home schoolers as a result of passing the Tim Tebow bill.
3. But doesn’t the Tim Tebow bill affect the Texas Supreme Court decision Leeper v. Arlington ISD, which clarified that home schooling is legal in Texas?
No, the bill does not affect the Leeper decision in any way. J. Shelby Sharpe–the attorney who argued the Leeper v. Arlington ISD decision before the Texas Supreme Court–stated that the Tim Tebow bill will in no way affect the Leeper decision, and will not undermine the freedoms that home schoolers possess:
“The Leeper opinion did not define a home school as a private school. The court interpreted the language in the code of a private school to include a home school. The Tebow Bill will NOT weaken the Leeper decision.” –J. Shelby Sharpe
The Leeper decision simply clarified that a home school is protected in the same way a private school is, but not that they are completely identical, and the Tim Tebow bill won’t undermine that decision in any way. Home schooling will continue to be free in Texas.
4. Don’t other states have more regulations than Texas?
Yes, some states do have more regulations. However, those regulations did not increase–nor were they created–as a result of the Tim Tebow bill. In fact, after passing the Tim Tebow bill, home schooling freedoms actually increased in several of those states.
5. Does THSC support a private school version of the Tim Tebow bill?
Yes, definitely. In fact, we’ve supported a private school version of the bill in the past. THSC is a strong advocate for school choice in all areas. However, due to strong opposition from several legislators and many in the public school community, the bill was unable to pass. The greatest success we’ve had with the Tim Tebow bill has been with the home school version, which completely passed the Senate last session. If another legitimate version of the private school bill is filed, THSC, as we have in the past, intends to support that as well.
6. Why are we distinguishing home schools from private schools?
Distinguishing between a home school and a private school is sometimes necessary. Private schools and home schools have many differences. In 2011 the Texas Legislature attempted to regulate private schools by introducing HB 2535, which would have mandated that students wear reflective clothing when playing sports at night. The bill was trying to regulate students of both private and public schools. The author included a section that said “home-schools” were not included in the bill and, therefore, were not to be regulated. Refusing to differentiate between home schools and private schools would bring regulations that no parent would want for his child.
7. Will the fact that the Tebow bill differentiates between home schools and private schools lead to future regulation?
The Tim Tebow bill references a definition of “home school” that was written into Chapter 29.916 of the Texas Education Code six years ago. Texas law already distinguishes between home schools and traditional private schools in at least 10 separate locations and has done so for many years. No increased regulations have arisen as a result.
If the Tim Tebow bill passes, the only way that the state could regulate home schooling would be to pass a law through both houses and have it signed by the governor. Not only is this already an avenue for regulation, but it always has and will continue to be so. The Tim Tebow bill in no way opens up new avenues for regulation. We already fight regulation on this front every legislative session, and this dynamic will not be altered by the passage of the Tim Tebow bill.
8. Can’t families just drive to a home school extracurricular program? Don’t some do that already?
Although many families currently do go out of their way to drive their children hours to participate in extracurricular activities, families should not be forced to have to do so–especially when a program they are already paying for is, in many cases, right across the street. Many home school extracurricular programs can be very costly, ranging from several hundred dollars per student, to nearly $1,000 per student. Some families’ best hope at a college scholarship for their son or daughter is an athletic one; but driving hours across Texas means less food on the table for that family, or more time at work. THSC believes that should never be a compromise a family has to make. This is why we support the Tim Tebow bill, in order to give parents the ability to choose what’s best for their child.
9. Can home schoolers participate in UIL currently?
No, unfortunately, they cannot, unless they participate in public school part time. According to the Deputy Director of UIL, “Homeschoolers are not currently eligible for UIL activities unless they attend a member school for an average of 4 hours per day.”
10. Will this cause inefficiencies in the system?
There is no evidence that the Tim Tebow bill will cause inefficiency. Many other states have similar laws (which require eligibility to be met by home school students who choose to participate), and there’s been no indication that there has been an increase in costs as a result of that. Determining that an applicant is home schooled should not prove difficult for UIL. In fact, the Deputy Director of UIL advised THSC in designing the bill in a way that would work best with UIL’s system.
Make your voice heard!
Sign the petition to pass the Tim Tebow bill today!
(over 1000 signatures as of this publication)