‘Tebow Bill’ Scores A Win In Panel Vote
Proposed Legislation Passes 7-1 In House Subcommittee
Posted: January 25, 2013
HARRISONBURG — The so-called “Tebow bill,” which would allow home-schooled children access to public school activities, gained a first down Thursday when it passed the House Students and Early Education Subcommittee, 7-1.
“I’m real happy that it was endorsed by the subcommittee,” said Del. Rob Bell, R-Albermarle, who introduced the bill again this year after two previous attempts to gain passage in the General Assembly failed.
House Bill 1442 would prohibit state schools from joining an interscholastic governing body that automatically prevents home-school students from participating even if they fulfill certain educational requirements.
Bell explained that these students live in the districts where they want to play and their parents pay taxes in those districts, making the issue a matter of fairness.
“They can play through eighth grade; we think they should be able to play through high school,” he said. “They can even practice. What they can’t do is play on Friday night.”
Opponents, including the Virginia School Boards Association, argue that extracurricular activities are a privilege, not a right, and mandating that a group of students participate would declare them a right.
Opponents also question the fairness of a home-schooler taking a roster spot from a student who attends the team’s school.
Thursday’s subcommittee vote is just the first step on a long path through the legislature.
The bill moves next to the House Education Committee and, if approved there, then to the full House of Delegates for consideration. If the House, which approved the proposed legislation last year, gives its OK, it must still find favor in the Senate, where it’s died before.
A similar bill appeared in front of the Senate Education and Health Committee, Thursday but no action was taken. The same committee killed the legislation last year.
The Senate bill does not include a sunset provision, written into the House version, which sets a five-year expiration date, Bell noted.
The proposed legislation, nicknamed the Tebow bill after NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who was home-schooled but participated in sports in Florida’s public schools, was resurrected for the new term with a few adjustments.
The bill states that a student must demonstrate progress for two straight academic, home-school years to participate in public school competition. The new language, Bell said, clarifies that those two years must immediately precede a student’s interscholastic participation.
The new draft also clarifies that the bill creates a local option for each district to enact its own regulations for home-schoolers.
Contact Alex Rohr at 574-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org