Two Texas “Tebow bills” – SB 929 and HB 1374 – are being pushed by a Texas homeschool group calling for opening up extra-curricular activities via University Interscholastic League. This bill only includes homeschooling participation in the public school extra-curricular activities, not other Texas private schools. The SB 929 summary lays it out:
“Relating to equal opportunity for access by home-schooled students to University Interscholastic League sponsored activities; authorizing a fee“
From the San Francisco Chronicle – an AP article:
Senate panel approves UIL homeschool measure
Tuesday’s 7-1 vote referred Senate Bill 929 to the full chamber for consideration.
But the committee only approved it after including an amendment that the measure expire in four years — thus requiring the Legislature to either then reauthorize it or scrap it altogether.
The bill is sponsored by McKinney Republican Sen. Ken Paxton and Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels.
Public schools have resisted allowing private schools into the UIL — even for sports other than football or basketball — amid fears of recruiting.
Texas homeschool advocate Susan Frederick and other homeschoolers have these concerns, as noted below. Texas, Illinois and a few other states’ homeschools are considered private schools just like the Montessori or Catholic School down the street. From Susan Frederick:
This bill was voted out of committee. If you are concerned about how this may affect the private school status of homeschoolers in TX now is the time to voice your opposition. This bill asks that homeschoolers be treated differently than other private school students. If the bill was reworded such that UIL was open to all students, that is different. But instead it asks for special provisions for homeschoolers, which opens up a whole can of worms. Although THSC does good things in many areas, I am very much opposed to bills that ask homeschoolers be treated as a special class.
THSC keeps giving AZ as an example of a low regulation state that allows homeschoolers to participate in public school sports. Apples and Oranges comparison. Unlike TX where we have no registration required, AZ homeschoolers have to register with their local school superintendent complete with a birth certificate. In TX the local school district has no need to have any info on the homeschoolers if they have never been to school. Private schools in TX are private, let’s keep our homeschool freedoms. Is it worth the risk to our freedoms so a small minority can play UIL sports? Homeschoolers from around the state participate in sports through other means than UIL.
Urge that either the bill be dropped or that it be reworded for all students rather than a special bill just for homeschoolers.
Problems Caused By Homeschoolers’ Playing Public School Sports - Home Education Magazine Taking Charge column- Larry and Susan Kaseman
Okay, some people might argue, what’s wrong with that? Why can’t homeschoolers who want to play public school sports comply with whatever regulations the state devises while homeschoolers who either do not want to play school sports at all or who do not want to play badly enough to comply with the regulations simply homeschool as they have been? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Of course, homeschooling is clearly legal in every state. Of course, the general public’s acceptance of homeschooling has increased significantly in recent years, especially as homeschoolers have shown over and over again how well homeschooling works and how capable homeschool graduates are. However, despite these factors, there is continuing pressure for increased state regulation of homeschooling. Once regulations are in place for homeschooling athletes, there will be strong pressure to apply them to all homeschoolers, leading to increased regulation of all homeschoolers.
Next could come a section that explains the ways legislation undermines homeschooling freedoms by saying something like:
*Legislators, left to their own devices, will understandably represent the mainstream majority rather than the homeschooling minority. Unless we educate them, most people assume that children need to attend a conventional school to learn basic skills and become socialized. Since the government oversees and regulates public schools, many people assume it should regulate homeschools in the same way. They also assume that homeschoolers want legislation that gives us benefits like tax credits or that supposedly guarantees that we can participate in public school courses or programs.
*Legislation is very difficult to direct and control. Anytime legislation is introduced that includes homeschooling provisions (even if it is not a homeschooling bill as such), an amendment could easily be added that would increase state regulation of homeschools. It’s not a question of what we could gain if legislation were introduced to give us tax credits or some other benefit. It’s a question of what we could lose through the legislative process.
*Once legislation is passed, government agencies write regulations that have the force of law even though they are not written by a representative body. Again, minority groups run the risk that regulations will reflect mainstream values rather than their own and turn the law against them.
Following that, there have been some interesting activities here in Illinois with homeschoolers often initiating, ‘helping’ set local policy and participating in public school sports/activities. In Illinois, the Illinois High School Association allows the local school districts to set policy for homeschool participation. The school district handbook will include the homeschool policy for this participation, and other private schools are generally not invited.
One school district requires homeschool registration with the Regional Office of Education/IL State Board of Ed, even though it’s not required in state law and it has absolutely nothing to do with homeschoolers participating in public school extra-curriculars. Another school district tried to do that, but the local homeschoolers said they wouldn’t tolerate that. They are willing to take the standardized test annually, with the school tabulating the results.
There is the repeated mantra that homeschoolers pay taxes and the children deserve to participate in the public school activities. It’s always more complicated than that. If states already require notification or registration of homeschoolers, this issue doesn’t seem to be as big a complication. But for the states who have more freedom, the public school system will almost always try to find a way to control those homeschooling families. This is one way where homeschoolers who don’t assert their rights and responsibilities start to lose them.
It’s a rock and a hard place situation. Homeschoolers’ participation in public schools causes resentment that we’re ‘getting away with something‘, even as homeschool non-participation in public schools causes resentment that we’re also ‘getting away with something‘. As a small private school minority, we need to choose our battles carefully.