The Texas State Senate has passed a "Tim Tebow Bill," which would allow homeschooled children to participate in University Interscholastic League sports activity.
SB 2046 passed in a bipartisan vote of 26-5. The bill was named after Heisman Trophy-winning University of Florida football player Tim Tebow, who played on his local public school's team despite being homeschooled.
"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," state Senator Van Taylor, the bill's author, said in a statement to Breitbart Texas. "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 added.
Taylor went on to say that of the over 6 million students in the state, 320,000 are homeschooled. Of the remaining students, 250,000 are in private schools, 200,000 are in charter schools, and 5.2 million are in public schools, writes Mike Ward for The Beaumont Enterprise.
While the bill has already passed in 29 states, it has received equal amounts of support and criticism in Texas, writes Merrill Hope for Breitbart.
Supporters of the bill feel that property taxes are still paid by parents of homeschooled children, which helps to support the local public school system, so they should have access to the scholastic sports programs. However, critics argue that if a child does not attend a public school they should not be given the chance to participate in that school's sports programs. Critics include the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE), the largest independent teacher's trade "association" in the state, who say that homeschooled children "are not held to the same academic standards" as students who attend public schools.
A number of homeschooling families also stand in opposition of the bill, suggesting that it could lead to a "slippery slope" concerning homeschooling regulations, which could become more in tune with criteria and time frames based on the public school system.
SB 2046 states that participating home-schooled students "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."
In addition, the bill requires that after the first six weeks of school, the parent of the homeschooled student must offer written verification to the school that the child is passing each of their courses. The timing of this is dependent upon the public school schedule.
These requirements have many homeschool parents concerned that the public school system will become more involved in their school schedule at home in other ways down the road. These parents have joined together to form "No2Tebow."