The Virginia House of Delegates will vote today on a bill that has been cleverly nicknamed the “Tim Tebow Bill” after the very popular current Denver Broncos quarterback who was a homeschooled student that played football for his local high school. The bill would allow for homeschooled students to participate in sports, debate, drama, etc. at their local high schools. Those opposed to the bill cite the fact that students who attend public school have standards they must meet to be eligible, specifically passing 5 classes, following school rules or meeting a GPA requirement. There is no such standard for homeschooled students. Opposition also notes that the bill creates a different set of circumstances for home school students to participate that is “unfair” to students who attend the public school. Supporters of the bill say they pay taxes to public schools and should be allowed to participate. If not, one man suggested, he would like a tax credit. The Virginia High School League and VA Homeschoolers met before in 1997 and 2007 to draft language but both times were voted against.
I spoke to Chad Knowles, VHSL Central Region Chairman and member of the Board of Directors who believes that “those individuals passing this bill have not thought about the ramifications of local high schools and their student’s ability to play”. This includes a different level of eligibility and accountability. Mr. Knowles also suggested that this would open the door for private school students to also possibly gain eligibility to play for public schools.
This redistributive policy would shift power from the public schools to the homeschooled students. Public schools would no longer be allowed to exclude the homeschooled students from extracurricular school activities.
I am not personally opposed to the bill. I am fine with allowing homeschooled students the opportunity to try out for a team and even to play. I would like to see a set of standards in place that define academic eligibility for students not currently attending the public school.
If passed, the school would need to educate its coaches, students and community on the likelihood of homeschool students joining their teams. We would need to create a positive climate for the new students. We would need to meet with the homeschool parents to explain eligibility, practice, travel and fee requirements. Educating all stakeholders would be imperative during the transition.
I am all for giving everyone equal opportunity and for adding a quality contribitor to a team. I am worried about costing a spot to one of our students and making sure that everyone is treated fairly. I appreciate adding to the diversity of our school and exposing students to new perspectives. The key would be communicating openly with everyone involved and welcome the new students to our schools.