***FOR RELEASE AFTER 10 A.M., JANUARY 26, 2012***
Contact: Amy Wilson, Director of Government Affairs
Email: VaHomeschoolers Government Affairs
HOMESCHOOL SPORTS ACCESS BILL PASSES SUBCOMMITTEE
Goal in Sight for Virginia’s Homeschooled Students
Virginia’s homeschooling families have been struggling since 2005 to find a way for their students to play on public school sports teams, and it looks like they have finally completed a pass.
On Thursday, Jan. 26, a subcommittee of Virginia’s House Education Committee voted 6 to 2 in favor of HB 947, a “Tim Tebow Bill” patroned by Del. Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville). Bell, who recently announced his bid to replace Ken Cuccinelli as Virginia’s Attorney General, has sponsored homeschool sports access legislation for three years running. He recognizes the importance of sports and other programs to homeschooling families, including his own – his younger brother was homeschooled. This year, Del. Bell was joined by Del. Randy Minchew (R-Leesburg) and Del. David Ramadan (R-South Riding), who also filed homeschool sports access bills, which were folded in with HB 947 by the subcommittee. During today’s subcommittee hearing, HB 947 was amended to add a “sunset provision” that would cause it to expire in June 2017 unless a permanent bill is enacted.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, a nonprofit, volunteer-run statewide homeschooling association that supports the bill, said that HB 947 is important because it expands opportunities for Virginia families. “This bill will help families who might otherwise be forced to choose between homeschooling and athletics for their high school students,” said VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs, Amy Wilson. “Families choose home education for many reasons, always after a great deal of thought and consideration; they shouldn’t have to give up an education that is working for their child in order to have access to sports and other programs at the high school level – which is exactly when most community-based recreation programs end.” Wilson added that access to public school programs is particularly important for homeschooling families in rural communities, where public high schools play a strong role in the community and the homeschooling population is too small to field its own teams and programs.
Campbell Niehaus, a homeschooled seventh-grader in Loudoun County, responded to news of the bill’s success in the subcommittee: “I’m excited that [the bill] got [passed] by the subcommittee and I hope I get a chance to play sports with my public school friends!” HB 947 is expected to be considered by the full House Education Committee at its next hearing on Monday, Jan. 30 at 9 a.m.
For more information on this topic, or to schedule an interview:
Contact Amy Wilson, VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs, or call 866-513-6173.
**The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is willing to make an exclusive op-ed column available on this topic, particularly in response to a recent Associated Press article: Sidelined homeschoolers could make varsity if new, conservative assembly passes ‘Tebow Law’.
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