By Lynn R. Mitchell
Sitting around the table before the start of last night’s Augusta County Library board meeting in Fishersville, I was talking about how much my family had used the public library during the 16 years we homeschooled our children. One of the trustees brought up the Tebow Bill that had passed the General Assembly, and said he had heard the governor was going to veto it.
This gentleman was not someone I expected to be in support of a homeschool bill so I braced myself for his comment.
“I don’t agree with the governor,” he said, much to my surprise, and he went on to add that homeschool families pay their taxes, are part of the community, and should be allowed athletic access to the schools. He was not the first from the community I had heard to voice those thoughts.
After the governor’s office leaked days ago that the Tebow Bill was one of those about to be vetoed, it became official Friday when the press release came out late in the day:
HB 1626 – Prohibiting public schools from joining any organization which does not permit home schooled students to participate in sports program (such as the Virginia High School League)
This bill would create a double standard, as students who are not subject to academic or attendance requirements of public schools would now compete with students on public school athletic teams. He also recognized the wide availability of athletic programs that operate outside the public school system.
The governor heard the same old tired excuses that have been going around for years. One has to wonder if he ever talked with a homeschool parent or even a homeschooled student. After 10 years of advocating for the bill and finally seeing it pass both the Senate and House for the first time, it got axed.
I suppose in this day and age I am surprised at the stigma that continues against homeschoolers.
The Family Foundation, who has worked with Delegate Rob Bell for passage of the bill, wrote of the veto:
As had been rumored since last weekend, Governor Terry McAuliffe confirmed today that he has vetoed the “Tebow Bill,” legislation that would break down barriers that prevent home school students from playing public high school sports.
More than 70 percent of Virginians support equality for home school students, and the proposal is endorsed by the Washington Post.
It’s obviously disappointing that the Governor has vetoed this reasonable legislation despite widespread public support for providing home school kids equal access to public school sports. This legislation even gave local school boards the option of prohibiting participation in sports by home school kids.
While the Governor indicated concern that home school kids don’t have to meet the same “stringent academic requirements” that public school students face, the fact is home school students routinely outperform their public school counterparts academically. Nearly thirty other states have found a way to provide equal access to sports for home school students.
I do want to thank all of you who sent letters or emails to the Governor on this issue. Hundreds of you responded to our Action Alerts, and for that we are truly grateful! Despite the Governor’s intolerance toward home school families, we are confident that, eventually, Virginia will join a majority of states in providing this opportunity for home school students.
We are grateful to Delegate Bell for his continued diligence and dedication to the homeschool community. If this bill goes to the General Assembly next year, I hope the governor will educate himself about homeschooling and realize that a Tewbow Bill is not a threat to public schools.