***FOR RELEASE AFTER 10 AM, January 15, 2012***
Contact: Amy Wilson, Director of Government Affairs, The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers
Email: GovtAffairs Phone: 866-513-6173
HOMESCHOOL SPORTS ACCESS IN VIRGINIA: 2013 ‘TEBOW’ BILLS WOULD GIVE SCHOOL BOARDS CONTROL: HB 1442 and SB 812
The issue of homeschool access to public school sports in Virginia is twice as big in 2013 as it was last year, when Virginia’s “Tebow” bill was featured in TIME magazine and The New York Times. Legislation before the Virginia General Assembly this year includes companion bills in both the House of Delegates and the Senate aimed at creating eligibility requirements that would allow qualified homeschooled students to try out for athletics and other competitive activities at their local public high schools. On the heels of a 2012 bill that passed the House and failed by just a single vote in the Senate Education Committee, the 2013 “Tebow” bills are sure to receive attention from homeschooling families across the Commonwealth – and from the media.
Clear Language to Ensure Fairness
This year’s homeschool sports access bills specifically state that homeschool eligibility is subject to the policy of each local school board – there would be no mandate on public schools. Qualified students would only be eligible at the public school in their residential attendance zone (no “team shopping”). They would have to be bona fide homeschoolers, presenting documented proof that they had homeschooled in compliance with Virginia’s home instruction statute for at least two consecutive school years, including the two years immediately prior to seeking participation (“dropouts” would not qualify). Homeschoolers would also have to provide proof of two years of satisfactory academic progress, either through standardized testing scores or via professional academic evaluations approved by the local public school superintendent. Other eligibility rules required by the Virginia High School League (VHSL) would also apply.
Virginia’s Homeschooling Families Tire of Waiting
Amy Wilson, Director of Government Affairs for The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, expressed the view of supporters of Virginia’s “Tebow” bills: “Homeschoolers in Virginia would like to have what homeschoolers in 29 other states have: access to quality competitive athletics at their local public high school. Students who were homeschooled high school students when this issue first arose in Virginia are now old enough to be parents themselves! Homeschool sports access is already working, using a variety of legislative and policy-based models, all over the country. No state that has enacted an access law or policy has ever rescinded it – in New Mexico, access has actually been further expanded over time. Access can work in Virginia, too.”
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers (VaHomeschoolers), a statewide homeschooling association, supports both 2013 “Tebow” bills – HB 1442 and SB 812. VaHomeschoolers has worked on the issue of homeschool sports access since 1997, supporting legislation on the topic and participating in extended discussions aimed at addressing the concerns of the Virginia High School League and other organizations opposed to including homeschoolers in public school programs.