Alabama Legislators Advance Bill Allowing Homeschoolers to Play Public School Sports

footballMONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a bill allowing homeschool students to play public school sports, now sending the matter on to the Senate for a vote.

H.B. 236, also known as the “Tim Tebow Act” passed 52-43 on May 7, 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.

“A student who is taught at home and is enrolled in a private school or a church school … may participate in extracurricular activities sponsored by, or engaged in by a public school system, or in a nonpublic school, if the nonpublic school permits the student to participate at that school,” it reads in part. “The student shall register with the local board of education in the district where the student resides.”

Academic and behavior conditions are included in the legislation, requiring students to adhere to “the same standards of behavior, responsibility, performance, and code of conduct as other participants of the team or activity.” Homeschoolers must also meet “the same academic standards as other participants of the team or activity, with those standards confirmed by appropriate documentation,” such the ACT/Explore or Plan College Readiness Test, Test of Basic Skills or Terra Nova.

If a student is unable to maintain the required academic standards, he or she is deemed ineligible to participate “until the student has successfully satisfied standards to regain eligibility that are equivalent to those imposed on other students at the same grade level.”

“I think this is good for the home-school children to have some social interaction with the public school kids, and I think it is good for the public school kids to have some social interaction with these home-school kids. I think it’s good for all the children,” Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison) told the Associated Press.

But some opposed the effort, stating that as parents made the decision not to enroll in public school, they shouldn’t expect easy access to public school sports.

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“We make a choice of whether we want to attend public school or not attend. We make a choice whether to compete or not compete. To have your cake and eat it too, that’s something strange here,” Rep. Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville) stated.

There are an estimated 23,000 homeschooled students in Alabama.

As previously reported, the Texas Senate approved a similar bill this week, also named after Tim Tebow.

“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,” bill sponsor Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano) 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,” he said.

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