VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report – February 28, 2012

by Amy Wilson, VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs

HB 947 at Risk in the Senate!

Virginia’s homeschooling community must take action quickly if we want to see HB 947, the homeschool sports access bill, succeed in the Senate this week. The bill is expected to be heard by the Senate Education and Health Committee on Thursday morning, and The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers has reason to believe that opponents to the bill are currently winning the effort to influence our senators’ opinions on the issue.

Negative Media Coverage is Taking a Toll

This bill has received extensive media coverage, both in Virginia and in national news outlets. While some of that coverage has been balanced or even favorable, the vast majority has been negative, and public commentary on the news has been vocal and highly critical. In addition, much of the media coverage contains significant misconceptions and misinformation about the issue, about the provisions of the bill, and about homeschooling in general.

For example, The Washington Post published an editorial opposing homeschool sports access on February 17, as well as a negative column by sports writer Preston Williams the same day. Williams argued in his headline, “If you suit up for a high school’s team, you should sit in its classroom, too.” The Post’s editorial board opined that “[s]tudents who opt not to attend the local high school shouldn’t expect special treatment.” Readers of both columns added a number of inflammatory comments, both about the bill and about homeschooling in general (read them at your own risk).

Bob Cook, who writes a sports blog for Forbes Magazine, lampooned the bill on February 6, writing, “The Tebow bills come from the mindset that because you pay taxes to schools, your children should be able to play sports there, even though they don’t attend classes. It’s like how I pay taxes to the Air Force, so even though I’m not in the service, I should get to fly a fighter jet.” He joked that homeschooled high school students attend “Mom’s Kitchen High” and mocked a homeschooled student who testified in favor of the bill in the House of Delegates.

Yesterday the Virginian-Pilot printed an editorial calling HB 947 “bad law” — just in time to influence constituents in key Senatorial districts that are heavily represented on the committee that will hear the bill on Thursday.

In addition to the negative media coverage (and there are many more examples out there), the Virginia PTA continues to urge parents to contact their legislators in opposition to the bill.

In short, despite all of the progress this bill has made this year, it still has an uphill battle ahead in the Senate.

What Can We Do?

Things are not hopeless, and we are not powerless. We need as many Virginians as possible to contact their senators in support of this bill. Please take these steps as soon as possible:

  1. Identify your senator.
  2. Call him or her BEFORE THURSDAY and state that you are a constituent and that you support HB 947.
  3. Share this message with homeschooling friends, neighbors and family members. Let them know they can read more about the bill and the arguments for supporting it on VaHomeschoolers’ website.
  4. If you use social media, please share this update.

Sports Access Hearing March 1

Please also consider attending the Senate Education and Health Committee hearing on Thursday morning. If you plan to attend the hearing, please email VaHomeschoolers so we can get in touch with you if any updated information becomes available. It is possible that this hearing may be rescheduled.

  • WHO Homeschooling families and friends who support HB 947
  • WHAT Hearing of the Senate Education and Health Committee
  • WHEN Thursday, March 1 at 8:30 a.m. (Please plan to arrive 30 minutes early so that the bill’s supporters can coordinate with Del. Bell.)
  • WHERE General Assembly Building, 910 Bank Street, Richmond, Senate Room B
  • WHY Be present to show your support and to allow homeschooled students to testify in favor of the bill

Contact VaHomeschoolers

If you have any questions or concerns about this legislation, or any other legislative issue, please contact Amy Wilson, VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs.

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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.

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