Currently, home school students in Texas may not participate in University Interscholastic League (UIL) activities. This includes more or less all public school extracurricular activities such as basketball, football, speech, debate, chess, etc.
During the 2015 Texas Legislative Session, THSC is working to amend the existing law so that home school students will be able to play in UIL activities. This language is fondly referred to as the “Tim Tebow Bill.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Tim Tebow Bill Analysis
Tim Tebow Bill Talking Points
Tim Tebow Bill Talking Points for Students
Audio of Town Hall Meeting with Tim Lambert
Blog Post: Tim Tebow Bill – Addressing Concerns
Blog Post: Tebow Effects
Blog Post: Why Tim Tebow is Great for Texas Home Schoolers: Addressing Concerns with Evidence
Ten Facts About the Tim Tebow Bill
What it does:
Students who live within a public school district but are home schooled will be allowed to try out for that public school’s interscholastic activities in the same way as a student enrolled at the public school.
It has provisions to prevent failing public school students from claiming that they are “home schooled” and thereby gaming the system.
- Texas has 320,000 home schooling students and parents. Thousands of home schooling parents pay property taxes that fund public school activities and facilities, but their home schooled children aren’t even allowed to use them.
- UIL was created in 1913 for all Texas students. In 1915 eligibility was restricted to white, public school students. According to testimony in the Leeper vs. Arlington ISD case, at the time of the restriction, 80 percent of the students in Texas were home schooled. Even though minority students were finally allowed to participate in UIL beginning in 1967, home school students are still excluded.
- There are an estimated 320,000 home school students in Texas. Since the Texas Comptroller estimates that educating a single student costs $11,000 annually, home schoolers save the state an estimate of $3.5 billion annually.
- Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow was a home school student in the state of Florida where he was able to play on his local public school’s football team. He went on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history.
- Collin Klein, a football player who was a 2012 Heisman Trophy finalist, was also a home school student who played football on his public school football team in Colorado.
- 29 states already allow home school students to participate in UIL activities. The twenty-nine other states listed below already allow home school students to participate in their versions of UIL.
The twenty-seven other states listed below already allow home school students to participate in their versions of UIL.
14. New Hampshire
15. New Jersey
16. New Mexico
17. North Dakota
21. Rhode Island
22. South Carolina
23. South Dakota
Tim Tebow Bill Analysis
HB 347 by Dutton and SB 391 by Burton
Statement of Intent:
HB 347 and SB 391 would allow home school students to participate in interscholastic activities in their public school district in the same way as students enrolled in the public schools.
Currently, home school students are ineligible to participate in University Interscholastic League-sponsored activities, such as sports, theater, and music. Home school parents pay property taxes to fund public school extracurricular activities in the local public school district, but their home schooled children cannot participate in those activities.
As proposed, HB 347 and SB 391 amend current law relating to UIL participation eligibility.
Section 1: Amends Subchapter D, Chapter 33 of the Education Code by adding Section 33.0833.
The bill allows home schooled students to participate in UIL activities provided by the school district in which the home schooled student resides.
HB 347 and SB 391 require that home school students remain subject to all “relevant policies that apply to students enrolled in the school.” These policies include qualifications such as age eligibility, insurance, physical condition, and standards of behavior and performance.
The bill requires that the primary instructor of the student submit written verification to the public school district of the student’s academic record indicating whether the student is:
- Receiving a passing grade in each course being taught
- Maintaining satisfactory progress towards academic achievement
HB 347 and SB 391 prohibit home school students from participating in UIL activities during the remainder of a year in which they were enrolled in a public school.
HB 347 and SB 391 prohibit the UIL from preventing home school students from participating in UIL activities who comply with the requirements set forth in the entire statute.
The Act applies beginning in 2014-2015.
On passage or if the bill does not receive the necessary vote, September 1, 2015.
Back to top of page.
Tim Tebow Bill Talking Points
HB 347 by Dutton and SB 391 Burton
Summary: The bill will allow home school students to participate in interscholastic activities in the public school district in which they live in the same manner as students enrolled in public school.
- Ends Discrimination: The bill will end discrimination against home schooled students who are prohibited from trying out for extracurricular activities. Home school students will be able participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, theater, and musical competitions in public school leagues.
- Broader Selection of Talent: HB 347 and SB 391 will broaden the pool of eligible talent by allowing more students to try out for extracurricular activities, resulting in higher quality competition.
- Helps Rural Home Schoolers: Many home school students that do not live in the metropolitan areas of Texas do not have opportunities to participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities. Oftentimes, the nearest home school family may live 50 miles away even though a public school may be nearby.
- Saves the State Money: Many home school families choose to enroll their children in public high school in order to participate in extracurricular activities. If these students remain home schoolers, it will save the state a substantial amount of money. These funds could then be used to improve the education of the remaining public school students.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Is the fact that we’re not regulated in Texas due to us never accepting or pursuing government programs that benefit home schoolers?
Actually, history has shown just the opposite to be true. The lack of regulation isn’t due to a lack of interaction home schoolers have with the government. Rather, Texas home schooling freedoms are due to our eternal vigilance. Watch the history of home schooling in Texas.
- Does THSC only support one side of this issue?
Currently parents who wish to keep their children from participating in UIL have the right to do so. The families who wish to participate, on the other hand, are prohibited by the discriminatory rules of UIL. By passing this law, both sides would be able to exercise their rights.
- Isn’t the foundational idea of home schooling to raise children away from the harmful influences found at public schools?
From a public policy standpoint, we believe that parents should have the right to decide whether their children should try out for a public school sports team or not. We believe that home schooled families should have the same rights as public schooled families. Those who have a personal conviction against their children spending time with students who share different values would not be affected by the Tebow Bill. The Tebow Bill merely gives home schoolers a choice.
- Why would any home schooler want their children to play on public school teams?
A gifted student who does not have the option of competing in the public school league loses vast amounts of potential for recognition from recruiters, who rarely search for talent outside of the UIL. As a result these children never see many of the opportunities, such as college scholarships, that would have been extended to them had they simply been allowed to play in a different stadium.
- 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 their child.
- 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 is 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.
- Won’t the Tim Tebow Bill’s testing requirement usurp parental authority?
Subsection D of the Tim Tebow Bill explicitly outlines that the parent retains ultimate authority and oversight of all academic standards relating to participation in UIL activities. The bill also directly states that a school district is required to accept test scores reported from a third party, which means that not only does the parent have the authority to determine if a child will take the test, but that in the event that he does, where that test will be taken.
- Many other states allow home schoolers to participate in UIL activities and those states have high home school regulation. Will this happen in Texas?
Twenty-seven other states, both high- and low-regulation, already allow home school students to participate in public school interscholastic activities. None of those 27 states have seen increased regulation as a result of their Tim Tebow laws.
- Aren’t there already plenty of athletic opportunities available to home school students?
Home school students who live in rural areas of Texas do not have the same opportunities as students who live in the metropolitan areas. Many of them must drive for hours to reach the nearest sports, music, or drama program available to them. Additionally, home school students do not have the option of playing in the private school league (TAPPS).
- Will this bill end the home school athletic leagues/associations?
Evidence from states that have implemented Tebow laws leads us to believe that this legislation will have a very minimal impact on home school athletic teams. For more information, click here.
- Will this law result in recruiting?
There is no reason to believe that this legislation will cause recruiting. The bill is worded so that only home school students who live in a particular school district and who were already qualified to attend the school in question will be able to participate in extracurricular activities at that particular school district. If a student disenrolls from public school in order to attend home school, they will be ineligible to play in UIL activities for the remainder of that school year. There will be no unique effects on the issue of recruiting caused by the presence of home schoolers in UIL activities.
- Are the school districts liable for injuries to home school students?
Currently in the state of Texas, school districts are not liable for injuries sustained during athletic activities. Each school district currently requires parents to sign a waiver before allowing public school students to participate in athletic activities. The same liability rules would apply to home schoolers since home school students would compete on the same basis as public school students.
- How do we verify that students are being taught at home?
The state of Texas acknowledges the parents of a home schooled student to be solely responsible for that child’s education and considers the child to be accountable exclusively to the parent for the quality of that education. The state of Texas does not require any annual or regular assessments of the child’s academic progress. HB 347 and SB 391 implement the same verification standard required in Arizona and Utah, which allows a parent to provide written verification indicating that the student is achieving satisfactory progress towards academic achievement. Questions about the quality of home school education are often laid to rest with the knowledge that national studies have repeatedly demonstrated that home school students score in the 80th percentile on national tests. In comparison, their public school counterparts who score at the 50th percentile mark.
- Will public and home school students have to meet the same immunization requirements?
The bill is currently written to require that home school students meet the same requirements as public school students in categories including physical condition, qualifications, and responsibilities. Home school students who choose to participate in UIL activities will, under these restrictions, be required to meet the same immunization standards as public school students.
Tim Tebow Bill Talking Points for Students
HB 347 by Dutton and SB 391 by Burton
The problem: In 1915, the University Interscholastic League changed its rules to keep home schoolers from playing in public school extracurricular activities. Now, 320,000 Texas students are forced to choose between two things they love: learning a lot by home schooling or enjoying extracurricular activities.
Patrick Foss is a home schooler in Virginia. He cannot play on public school teams. He says, “I just want to be part of the community. You shouldn’t have to pick between athletics and academics.”
What it does: The Tebow bill will allow home schooled students to try out for activities like sports, music, and drama in their own public school district. They will not have to start going to public school, but they will be able to play on the sports teams, like football or basketball, and participate in other extracurricular activities.
- Home school students will be able to learn skills and become better players. Official competitions can be hard. Preparing for tough competitions will build ability and character.
- Students will be able to play in official competitions and home school at the same time! Some home school students choose to enroll at a public high school in order to play in extracurricular activities.
- Home schoolers who do not have a home school team in their area will now be able to play sports and enjoy activities.
- Having more home schoolers in Texas will save the state government money.
- 29 states already allow home school students to participate in public school activities such as sports, music, and drama.
- Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow was a home school student. In the state of Florida, he was able to play on his local public school’s football team. He went on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history.
- Collin Klein, who nearly won the 2012 Heisman Trophy, was also a home school student. He was allowed to play on his public school football team in Colorado.
- Justin Jackson is on a list created by Rivals.com as one of the best high school basketball players. He is the 29th best basketball player in the nation for the class of 2014. Justin home schools in Houston, and because he is not allowed to play on a public school team, Justin is not allowed to win the state championship.