McAuliffe Vetoes ‘Tebow Bill’ for Third Time


Really, Governor? Vetoed again?

On Monday Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe again vetoed — for the third year in a row — Delegate Rob Bell’s “Tebow Bill” that would allow homeschooled students accessibility to public high school sports.

The governor has, it would appear, capitulated once again to the high school sports league and teachers’ union even though homeschool parents pay every tax dollar as parents with public school students.

Florida has had its own version of the Tebow Bill for over 20 years … 29 states in all allow access to their sports programs for homeschooled students.

This was the twelfth year Bell carried the bill to the General Assembly, and in 2015, 2016, and 2017, it passed both the House and the Senate only to be shot down by McAuliffe.

So Rob Bell can fold up shop for another year, and Virginia homeschoolers can only hope he is willing to carry the bill yet a thirteenth time. There’s an election before next year, and McAuliffe will no longer be sitting in the governor’s office.

Our gratitude once again to Delegate Bell’s tenacity and dedication to try and extract a tiny bit of return for homeschoolers’ tax dollars.

Here is the press release from the governor’s office announcing his veto of HB 1578 — the Tebow Bill.

Today Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed House Bill 1578, which would open interscholastic programs in public schools to home-schooled students, without subjecting those students to the same academic or attendance standards as public school students. The Governor’s full veto statement is below:

February 20, 2017

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 1578, which prohibits public schools from joining any organization governing interscholastic programs that does not allow home-schooled students to participate. More than 300 public schools belong to the Virginia High School League (VHSL), an organization through which member schools have regulated interscholastic competition since 1913. Each year over 200,000 public school students, who satisfy the VHSL’s 13 individual eligibility requirements, participate in one or more of the league’s 27 sports and 11 academic activities.

Allowing home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic competitions would disrupt the level playing field Virginia’s public schools have developed over the past century. While the bill provides that home-schooled students must demonstrate evidence of progress in order to participate in interscholastic activities, the unique nature of their educational situation precludes conformity to the same standards.

Virginia’s public schools provide a complete package of scholastic offerings and access to extracurricular activities. Participation in athletic and academic competitions is a privilege for students who satisfy eligibility requirements. Opening participation in those competitions to individuals who are not required to satisfy the same criteria codifies academic inequality in interscholastic competition.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.


Terence R. McAuliffe

For background on HB 1578, here are two articles I wrote during this year’s process:

Rob Bell’s ‘Tebow Bill’ Passes House, Now Goes To Senate
Concerns Addressed As Optimism Grows For Passage of Tebow Bill

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