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Texas is an exceptional state in regards to homeschooling. We are not one of the most free to homeschool in, we are the most free to homeschool in. Because of this, comparing the other states that have passed “Tebow” bills to Texas and the lack of new regulations those bills have so far produced is simply an illegitimate argument. Home schooling is practiced in all 50 states and parents have the right to choose to homeschool under those individual state laws. Texas is the only state where home educating parents are completely free of regulation in any form, be it district approval, curriculum approval, registering with districts, or mandated testing, etc… Therefore, if even one regulation that is equal to what the other states already have in place; Texas has then raised its regulations on homeschooling 100%. THSC president has made the statement that “nothing in the current bill” brings regulations to those who choose to participate, but the key word there is current and there is no guarantee that once it leave committee it will resemble how it is “currently”(THSC, 2015).
By Kristen Ring
Home educating our children is a personal decision each individual family in Texas has the right and liberty to make. This is a decision not made lightly and one where all aspects of life influences upon the child’s educational, emotional, mental, spiritual and physical needs are taken into consideration. Sacrifices to fulfill the needs of the whole child in these regards are fully accepted by the parents when the decision is finally made to home educate. Those that ultimately choose home education recognize that these sacrifices or inconveniences, however they may manifest, ultimately are outweighed by the positive outcomes for the whole of the child.
With the introduction of HB 347, SB 391, and SB2046, referred to as Tebow Bills, a divide between the homeschool community has occurred between those for and opposed to this introduced legislation. Those for the bill argue that 1) this as an opportunity to for those in rural areas to have the advantage of participating in activities that homeschooled students in more populated areas have, 2) it gives opportunity for more “Tebows”, 3) it is their “right” to have access because they pay taxes and essentially “save” the districts money by not attending full time, 4) 29 other states have similar bills, 5) parents should not be “forced” to drive long distances to activities already provided via public school (Sommers, 2015). These are weak arguments and should be critically evaluated prior to any superficial approval of this bill is made.
First, the claim of parents being “forced” to drive distances to participate in extracurricular activities is simply absurd. Not one home educating family has been “forced” into the choice of home schooling. Parents have the liberty to choose home education, and in that choosing the “inconveniences” that may affect that individual family are weighed into the process. If a family prioritizes their “drive time” for extracurricular activities over the core educational needs of their children, then they have the option to not continue homeschooling.
Second, Texas is an exceptional state in regards to homeschooling. We are not one of the most free to homeschool in, we are the most free to homeschool in. Because of this, comparing the other states that have passed “Tebow” bills to Texas and the lack of new regulations those bills have so far produced is simply an illegitimate argument. Home schooling is practiced in all 50 states and parents have the right to choose to homeschool under those individual state laws. Texas is the only state where home educating parents are completely free of regulation in any form, be it district approval, curriculum approval, registering with districts, or mandated testing, etc… Therefore, if even one regulation that is equal to what the other states already have in place; Texas has then raised its regulations on homeschooling 100%. THSC president has made the statement that “nothing in the current bill” brings regulations to those who choose to participate, but the key word there is current and there is no guarantee that once it leave[s] committee it will resemble how it is “currently”(THSC, 2015).
Third, to state that the Tebow bill will give more homeschool students the opportunity to become a “Tebow” or to imply that because Tebow was a homeschooled student who became a Heisman Trophy winner and an NFL player as justifiable reasons to pass a bill is extremely naive at best (THSC, 2015) . According to the NCAA (2013), research has shown that of all the high school football seniors nation-wide only 6.5% receive an opportunity to play collegiately and only 0.08% professionally (that’s 8 hundredths of a percent!). How is it reasonable to use Tebow as an example, or to state that forcing public schools to accept homeschool students will increase those odds?
Forth, to claim that because a family pays property taxes they are entitled to public school access is invalid. Private school families also pay property taxes, and using the THSC’s reasoning, they too should have access to public school activities. Private school families do not seek this for the same exact reason that home educating families should not; by choosing to attend private school they have rejected the public school system. Home schooling families exercised their school choice rights by choosing to homeschool and rejected the public system. The question then arises as to why they should be entitled to “cherry pick” the parts of the system they have already categorically rejected as best for their child?
Fifth, the THSC’s insistence that this bill is to provide homeschoolers with opportunities not already at their disposal, especially the alleged disenfranchised rural homeschoolers who do not have any, is simply misleading. In regards to higher population areas, there are innumerable choices for home educated students for sports, art, drama, band, etc. These high functioning organizations that provide these opportunities were started by homeschool groups that sought to meet the need and took action. The public school activities are now irrelevant to homeschool communities, because they have their own. Also, a great number of private schools will allow homeschoolers to participate in their extracurricular activities. Rural homeschoolers may have to drive farther, however just as the choice was made by those families to reject the public model, these families chose to live in rural areas. Does not a family that chooses to live in a rural community do so with the knowledge that amenities equal to urban areas are and will be lacking? Also, the number of these homeschoolers that this proposed bill will benefit (allegedly) is insignificant. In fact, in a recent town hall meeting with THSC’s Tim Lambert a question was asked about if in the passing of this bill school districts would seek reimbursement for homeschool attendance, to which Lambert answered he didn’t “foresee it because the number” of homeschoolers attending would be “infinitesimally small”(Town Hall Meeting,THSC, 2015)! By this statement Mr. Lambert, President of THSC, just declared the bill he worked to author, and has lobbied vigorously for, as NONESSENTIAL! Why is there a bill to allegedly give opportunity to a group defined as “a value approaching zero”?
Finally, there are other aspects to consider with this bill, such as the rights of school districts. School districts in Texas have the ability to accept or deny homeschooled students in their extracurricular activities, which is also another reason this bill is unnecessary. These are community elected officials, and if the district that a homeschool family resides in chooses to not accept homeschooled students, then that home schooling parent should act upon their civil duty to address the school board and/or vote for members that support their cause. Why should these communities be forced by law to accept students whose families have already rejected the public system? What good ethos is being practiced when attempting to strip a whole community’s educational rights for the mere opportunity for an “infinitesimal” amount of home school students to try out for sports? What about the families of the public enrolled whose kids will be bumped for non-enrolled students?
This bill also has the possibility to bring liability of truancy to homeschooled families. The Leeper case provided homeschoolers an exemption from attendance laws, however according to UIL rules for participation, the student participating must be in daily attendance of that activity. Is there a double standard?
This bill is not good for homeschool families and thousands of home educating families oppose it; it is also not good for public enrolled students, the arguments for it by THSC do not hold any weight, and lastly it is unnecessary.
I greatly urge you to consider all points made and to not support this bill!
NCAA. Research (2013). Retrieved from: https://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/Probability-of-going-pro-methodology_Update2013.pdf
Sommers, Isaac (2015). Ten facts about the tebow bill. Texas home school coalition. Retrieved from: http://www.thsc.org/2015/02/ten-facts-about-the-tim-tebow-bill-18740/
Texas Home School Coalition (2015). Tim tebow bill. Retrieved from: http://www.thsc.org/about-thsc/lobby-the-texas-legislature/tim-tebow-bill/
Town Hall Meeting (4/16/2015). Texas home school coalition. Retrieved from:http://www.thsc.org/townhall