The “Tebow Bill,” aimed at allowing home-schooled students to play public school sports, failed to pass the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee yesterday in an 8-7 vote.
This is the second consecutive year that the bill has not cleared Virginia Senate.
After this legislation cleared the Virginia House of Delegates on Feb. 1, supporters hoped it would continue past the Senate and eventually take effect, allowing school districts to make their own decision on whether homeschoolers could play or not.
More officially known as House Bill 1442, this bill was nicknamed after NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who was homeschooled, but was still allowed to play high school football.
When Tebow’s success spawned from being a homeschooled student in Florida, other states such as Kentucky, Alabama and Virginia began to rally for those same student rights.
Representing approximately 6,000 homeschooled students in the state, The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers argues that homeschooling families pay the same taxes as public school students’ families, so they should be entitled to the same public entities.
The Virginia High School League disagrees. Students who attend public school must adhere to certain eligibility and responsibility requirements in order to claim a name on the roster; the VHSL questions whether homeschoolers can meet those same requirements for an equal shot at a spot on a team.
Public school students subjected to standardized tests demonstrate their academic standing, while homeschool students are able to do that as well. However, there are a few regulations named by the VHSL that homeschool students may be unable to meet.
Each student-athlete must be enrolled in at least five classes that count towards graduation, and also must attend school for at least half the day in order to participate in athletic activity that same day.
The main issue is that many parents who choose to homeschool their kids take a different approach not only to curriculum, but also to the pace at which their children learn, which has an effect on the VHSL attendance policies.
Flexibility in the rules is what sponsor, Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle), along with The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, is looking for.