***FOR RELEASE AFTER 11AM, February 1, 2012***
Contact: Amy Wilson, Director of Government Affairs
Email: VaHomeschoolers Government Affairs
Phone: 866-513-6173 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 866-513-6173 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE APPROVES HOMESCHOOL SPORTS ACCESS BILL
HB 947 Clears another Hurdle
Homeschooling families came from across the Commonwealth today to show the House Education Committee their support of HB 947, a bill that would allow Virginia’s homeschooled high school students the opportunity to try out for athletic programs at their local public schools. Members of the Committee heard them: 14 of the 22 delegates voted in favor of the bill, with the remaining 8 opposed.
Support for homeschool sports access was strongest among Republican delegates, but the bill also found favor among Democrats. 13 of the 15 Republicans on the Committee, plus Democratic Del. Joe Morrissey (D-Highland Springs), voted in favor of HB 947. Republicans voting against the bill were Committee Chairman Del. Robert Tata (R-Virginia Beach) and Del. Tom Rust (R-Herndon); they were joined by the remaining Democrats on the Committee. HB 947 is patroned by Del. Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville), who championed a similar bill last year, only to be met with disappointment; cosponsors for this year’s bill are Del. Randy Minchew (R-Leesburg) and Del. David Ramadan (R-South Riding).
Today’s vote represents a significant achievement: it is the first time a homeschool sports access bill has reached the House floor after more than half a decade of effort by Virginia’s homeschooling community and sympathetic legislators, and in the face of heavy opposition from the Virginia High School League, the Virginia PTA, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, the Virginia School Boards Association and the Virginia Education Association. Speaking in support of the bill were The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, homeschooled students from across the Commonwealth, and a spokeswoman for Gov. McDonnell.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers (VaHomeschoolers), a nonprofit, volunteer-run statewide homeschooling association that supports HB 947, is optimistic about the chances of HB 947 on the House floor. “Homeschooling is not a partisan issue, because families who homeschool are a broad cross-section of the entire population with widely varying political views. However, it’s certainly true that the recent elections have tipped the balance of the General Assembly somewhat in favor when it comes to this bill,” said Amy Wilson, Director of Government Affairs for VaHomeschoolers. “We hope this may finally be the year that Virginia’s homeschooled students will be granted the opportunity to try out to play with their friends and neighbors at their local public schools.” Wilson added, “Homeschooling families are active in their local communities and support public school teams and programs by attending basketball games, school plays, concerts and more. We buy tickets to fundraising events and make purchases when school booster clubs knock on our doors. We’d like our kids to have the chance to benefit from some of these same programs, if they meet the eligibility requirements.”
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 a non-profit public charity with 501(c)(3) status; your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. A financial statement is available from the Virginia Division of Consumer Affairs upon request.