In 2013 Education Week reported, “Four out of five Americans believe homeschooled students should have the opportunity to participate in public school sports, according to a new poll from Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa” (see Public Supports Homeschool Students Playing Public School Sports).
Even so, the Virginian-Pilot editorialized its opposition to HB 1616, the “Tebow Bill” that passed in the 2015 Virginia General Assembly with bipartisan support and is currently waiting for Governor Terry McAuliffe’s signature. The newspaper’s primary reason for opposing is improbable (see Homeschool lobby wins special privileges) :
The latest proposal … still presents an opening for school districts to elevate success in sports ahead of enrollment in an academic community, paving the way for home-schooled students to do as Tebow did a decade ago, when he and his family shopped for a public-school football team that would accommodate his big arm.
I hate to burst the Virginian-Pilot’s bubble (well, actually, I’m happy to burst it) but very few homeschool families would feel compelled to cherry-pick a location for their children to play sports. Even fewer homeschool families could afford to go to such lengths as to move part of the family because most live frugally on one-income salaries. That argument is projecting a scare factor that just is not there.
The Virginian-Pilot also added this straw man argument:
The effort by Virginia lawmakers to permit this kind of end-run around the commonwealth’s interscholastic sports system serves to encourage more students to withdraw from the public school, while still permitting them to enjoy the privilege of representing that school. It undercuts the old-fashioned notion that in life, everyone must make choices, and those choices carry consequences.
This form of thinking shows a sad lack of understanding of the entire issue while trying to project wild-eyed fears onto public school students who are not going to drop out of public school in droves under the scenario painted by the newspaper. It’s just not going to happen.
Finally, the Virginia-Pilot feels a line should be drawn in the sand between public and homeschool privileges:
Students who choose not to enroll in a public school – and parents who refuse to enroll their children in public school – should recognize that their choice includes a decision about athletic competition.
Perhaps the newspaper is not aware that homeschool parents, just like parent whose children are in private and Christian schools and even childless couples, pay all taxes. There are no tax breaks for not using the public school’s buildings, teachers, transportation, and resources. None.
So for the occasional homeschool student who has a special sports talent, much as Tim Tebow with his quarterback skills, allowing access to a sports program that may provide playing opportunities in addition to scholarships for upper education is a good thing for both the public school and the homeschool student. It is not an entitlement. A down payment has been paid with taxes, and any additional sports fees would be covered by the parents.
Please contact Governor Terry McAuliffe by February 27 to ask that he sign the “Tebow Bill.” The VaHomeschoolers Association is encouraging homeschool parents and students to write the governor (see Mr. Smith Goes to Richmond by Karen Skelton, VaHomeschoolers Government Affairs Director, for the governor’s contact information). Many thanks to Delegate Rob Bell who has persevered throughout the years in filing and fighting for this bill.
Will 2015 be the year the Tebow Bill becomes law?
– Dear homeschoolers, please ask governor to support ‘Tebow Bill’
– Will 10th time be charm for Rob Bell’s ‘Tebow Bill’?
– Back in the homeschool classroom: Where it all began … blazing new trails