Virginia homeschoolers were disappointed when Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed the “Tebow Bill” — a homeschool sports access bill — after years of working to get its passage in the General Assembly.
Jeanne Faulconer, a homeschool mom who has educated her children at home for 17 years, wrote in Friday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch about the governor’s seeming lack of understanding everything around the bill. Her response to the governor (see Homeschoolers Are In (Reaction to Governor’s Veto of Homeschool Sports Access Bill):
I heard Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s comment about his veto of Virginia’s Homeschool Sports Access Bill (called the Tebow Bill in the media) on WAMU public radio. He said of our communities’ schools, “This is not a cafeteria where you can pick and choose what you want. You’re either in, or you’re out.”
Guess the governor doesn’t know over 50 percent of school divisions in Virginia offer homeschoolers part-time enrollment in academics — including in high school — as well as participation in activities and club sports, with average daily membership and attendance (ADM) funding following homeschooled students.
Homeschooled students are already in, and they have been in for years, except where Virginia High School League keeps them out when they finish eighth grade.
I guess he doesn’t know the many families who have one child in school and one child homeschooling. I guess he doesn’t know many homeschoolers spend years attending public school during their K-12 education careers — either before, after or during homeschooling.
I guess the governor doesn’t know some homeschooled kids who have special needs are in their communities’ schools regularly, receiving services such as speech therapy.
I guess he also doesn’t have the same teacher friends I do, who teach in public school while homeschooling one or more of their own children. In fact, the governor must not realize the many people who are like some of my homeschooling friends who support public education, who regularly substitute or volunteer in schools.
I guess he hasn’t heard about the soccer facility in southern Virginia a homeschooling family helped develop, which is used by the high school that doesn’t have a soccer field. The homeschooler was coached by that coach and played with those players for years because he was in that community — but when it comes to stepping on the field as a high schooler, he’s suddenly out.
In his statement, the governor alluded to “wide availability” of community programs making school sports unnecessary for homeschoolers. I can report that Virginia has vast rural, low-income and isolated stretches, without recreation departments offering high school sports, club teams or homeschool sports. I guess the governor doesn’t know there are school divisions with one homeschooled, high school-age athlete in the whole county, where the public school team needs more players.
The governor also said, “. . . 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.”
I guess the governor doesn’t know students are already meeting academic and attendance requirements in different ways, including virtual school students, dual enrolled community college students, international students and students with accommodations.
Maybe he also doesn’t know that athletes enrolled in Virginia’s public schools can play with an academic record of five D-minuses during the previous semester at most school divisions in the state, while other divisions have different grade requirements.
Does he know students attending schools that have failed accreditation can still play — which, if accreditation is meaningful, creates a double standard?
It is disingenuous to have different ways of meeting standards for so many students and pretend homeschooled students, who would have been required to meet the state’s academic requirements for them for two previous years before trying out, are the only ones who would not have identical requirements.
But maybe he doesn’t know.
I guess he also doesn’t know that 29 other states have found a nonbinary way to incorporate homeschooled kids, proclaiming them valued in their communities rather than casting them out.
Maybe he has not thought about how homeschoolers are meeting the state’s compulsory attendance laws with a fully legal and respected approach to education, not engaging in a workaround aimed at criticizing public school.
The governor’s veto is grossly out of step with the 72 percent of Virginians who favor high school sports access for homeschoolers (VCU Commonwealth Education Poll, 2014). Virginia’s legislators, who have the opportunity to override the veto, can vote to reflect what the majority of Virginians know about homeschooling families and school families: They can and do regularly work together, play together and learn together.
The legislation wouldn’t have required any school division to let homeschoolers try out. It would have let school boards make that decision locally. Kids in areas without opportunities should not continue to be excluded because of the influence of those in affluent Virginia, those who mistakenly see all homeschooling as partisan, and those who have missed the advent of mainstream homeschooling.
The days of blindly accepting stereotypes about homeschooling and making decisions based on the presumption that all homeschoolers are homeschooling for partisan reasons should be long over. We’re here, we’d amount to the eighth largest school division in the state, and we’re politically and religiously diverse.
Homeschoolers are in, Governor.
The General Assembly will meet on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, to attempt and override Governor McAuliffe’s veto. Since it requires a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate, it will be very challenging and is not expected to happen. Which again begs the question: Did Terry McAuliffe understand the Tebow Bill that he felt compelled to veto?
Lynn Mitchell educated her children at home for 16 years and was part of leadership in North Carolina’s Iredell County Home Educators (ICHE) and Virginia’s Parent Educators of Augusta County Homes (PEACH). Her son graduated from Harrisonburg’s James Madison University (JMU) in 2007 with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in Creative Writing. Her daughter graduated from Staunton’s Mary Baldwin College in 2012 with a BS in Sustainable Business and a minor in Marketing. Lynn and her husband live in Augusta County located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The story of how she began her homeschool journey can be found here (see Back in the homeschool classroom: Blazing new trails).
Other titles in the “Back in the homeschool classroom” series by Lynn R. Mitchell:
– Rob Bell’s ‘Tebow Bill’ (September 2014)
– Grown son’s first home (April 2014)
– Support group vs Co-op (February 2014)
– Where it all began … blazing new trails (January 2013)
– Grown son’s first home (July 2013)
– Staying in touch with homeschool friends (July 2013)
– New Year’s Eve (December 2012)
– More sleep = homeschoolers happier, healthier than public school students? (April 2013)
– Using Shenandoah National Park as your classroom (March 2013)
– Autumn (October 2012)
– The rain rain rain came down down down (April 2012)
– Why we teach our own (April 2012)
– Casey (April 2012)
– The wedding … letting go (September 2012)
– The pain of grief (August 2012)
– When faced with a challenge … no whining (April 2012)
– The simple wisdom of Winnie the Pooh (August 2012)
– First day of school (September 2012)
– The rise of homeschooling (February 2012)
– Hot summer days (July 2011)
– Constitutional lessons and the Judicial branch of government (March 2012)
– Rainy days (May 2013)
– A chance encounter (June 2013)
– Mary Baldwin commencement 2012 … SWAC Daughter graduates with honors (May 2012)