AUSTIN — The Texas Senate has voted in approval of a bill that would allow homeschool students to play public school sports.
S.B. 2046 is known as the “Tim Tebow bill,” named after the Heisman trophy winner who was able to work his way to the NFL after his home state of Florida passed a bill allowing homeschoolers to play with public school teams.
Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano) proposed the measure in light of the estimated 320,000 Texans who homeschool.
“Homeschool families do an incredible job teaching their children, they pay taxes that fund these programs, and should have the same claim to participate in sports and extracurricular activities,” he told reporters. “Extracurricular activities provide tremendous experience for children to grow and teach important life skills. I believe that every child should be offered this opportunity.”
However, some opposed the legislation as they stated that it does not provide a “level playing field” for students academically.
“There wouldn’t be the accountability measures that are in place for public school student, involving testing, discipline, attendance,” Kate Kuhlmann of the Association of Texas Professional Educators told local television station KXAN.
But some note that the bill provides conditions for enrollment.
“[A] home-schooled student must demonstrate grade-level academic proficiency on any nationally recognized, norm-referenced assessment instrument, including the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, Stanford Achievement Test, California Achievement Test, and Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills,” the text of S.B. 2046 outlines.
“A home-schooled student demonstrates the required academic proficiency by achieving a composite, core, or survey score that is within the average or higher than average range of scores, as established by the applicable testing service,” it states.
After the first six weeks of the school year, the parent or guardian of the student “must periodically, in accordance with the school ’s grading calendar, provide written verification to the school indicating that the student is receiving
a passing grade in each course or subject being taught.”
“At the end of the day this provides choices to parents,” Taylor stated. “Right now, they don’t have that choice. … And again, it’s good for the community; it’s good for the child.”
The bill passed 26-5 on Monday, just two weeks after it cleared the Senate Education Committee with a 9-1 vote. According to reports, a number of homeschool students, their parents and graduates testified before the Senate to state why they believed the legislation would provide greater opportunities for youth who study at home and in homeschool co-ops.
The Texas Home School Coalition Association said that it was satisfied with the vote following the bill’s passage.
“The Texas Home School Coalition and the THSC Watchmen expressed their gratitude to Senator Taylor for championing the issue and defending the home school community,” it said in a statement.
A similar measure has been presented in the Texas House of Representatives and has yet to be voted on in commitee. 29 other states have passed their own “Tim Tebow bill.”