THSC Review - August 2013 * Volume 17, Issue 3 - page 7

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Texas Home School Coalition Review
• 7
nthe1980s inTexas
the modern home school movement
was in its infancy. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) had declared that
home schools were not private schools and were, therefore, in violation
of the compulsory attendance laws. The TEA encouraged school districts
to prosecute home school families. More than 100 families in Texas were
prosecuted simply for teaching their children at home.
When attorney Shelby Sharpe filed a class action lawsuit against the
state of Texas to put an end to this legal harassment of home schooling
families, it seemed like a reasonable approach—to most of us. However,
many home schoolers fell prey to fear-mongering arguments that this suit
against the state would in fact result in
regulation rather than less.
One group even went so far as to oppose the suit in court.
I will never forget speaking to a friend who argued that
family had
not had any problems so he did not see a need for this legal action—in spite
of reports of the scores of other families across Texas who
been prose-
cuted by the state. There were vigorous debates and arguments across the
state between those who saw this suit as an appropriate reaction in order
to defend home schooling and those who saw it as simply an action that
would draw the ire of the state and result in more state control.
From our perspective today, the
decision (Leeper vs. Arlington
ISD) was a huge victory that not only secured freedom for Texas home
schoolers but also had an impact across the nation.
Today, a similar debate is raging in Texas over the legislation, known
as the Tim Tebow bill (SB 929/HB 1374), to allow home school students to
participate in University Interscholastic League (UIL) activities. Interestingly,
we are hearing the same kinds of arguments against this effort that we
heard twenty-five years ago against the
The major argument we hear from home schoolers against these current
bills is that passing this legislation would ultimately result in the regulation
of all home schoolers. This fear is based on the assumption that if we
receive some service from the state, we will be regulated. The premise
of this argument is that if we do not allow home schoolers to make this
choice, our freedomwill be secure henceforth and forever. That, of course,
is a false premise.
One thing we can say from decades of experience is that some in
Austin will always oppose the freedom Texas parents have to teach their
children at home. In virtually every legislative session, we see bills filed
attempting to erode or limit that freedom. That is why THSC exists and
why we spend a great deal of time and money each session monitoring
legislation and killing any attempt to limit the right of parents in Texas to
home school—things we did in this year’s session. In fact, you might want
to view a short video called “Legacy of Freedom” on the THSC website
that documents this decades-long battle for home school freedom that
continues today. You can view it at
The same arguments used today against our Tim Tebow Bill could have
been made when we changed the law to force public schools to allow
home school students to take the PSAT because in some areas that is the
only place those tests are offered. In fact, we had to agree to add a defini-
tion of home schooling to the Texas Education Code in order to pass that
legislation more than six years ago. Opponents of the Tebow Bill say we
should not have done so. However, we have
freedom today since
the passage of that law, not less.
Opponents could also have said the same thing when we changed the
law to require public universities to recognize home school graduates as
high school graduates and when federal law was amended to make home
school graduates eligible for student loans or grants. When we passed
laws to require community colleges to allow home school students to
take dual credit classes the same as they allow public school students,
to guarantee that home schoolers receive child support benefits or pub-
lic assistance, or to allow military enlistment, etc., the same things could
have been said—but they were not. I could go on, but my point is that all
of these changes that were made to allow home school students to have
equal access to the same benefits as public school students could have
been opposed on the same basis as the arguments made today against
the Tim Tebow Bill. Why is it that only on this issue the arguments are
being raised? I believe it is out of fear.
Texas is one of the freest home school states in the nation because
we have worked diligently to change laws to eliminate artificial barriers
against home schooling and have worked even harder to oppose any at-
tempt to take away our freedom. We did not get to this place by cowering
in our homes and hoping the government would not take away our free-
doms if we did nothing.
In 1913UILwas establishedby the Texas legislature, and its first constitution
made the league available for all students in Texas. Two years later that
document was changed to allow only “white public school students” to
participate. At that time—according to evidence presented in the
case—as many as eighty percent of students in Texas were being home
schooled. UIL was forced in the late 1960s to allow minority students into
the league.
By the time you read this column, the Eighty-Third Texas Legislative
Session will be over, and we may or may not have passed the Tim Tebow
Bill and/or the Texas Parental Rights Restoration Act. Regardless of
whether or not we were successful, there will be challenges to parental
rights and home school freedom in the years to come, and the only way
we will continue to enjoy that freedom is to be eternally vigilant and work
hard to oppose every effort to limit that freedom.
the president
the magazine.
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