AUSTIN (KXAN) — Should home school students be able to join public school extra-curricular activities like band and athletics? Ever since Tim Tebow, who grew up home-schooled, went on to win the Heisman Trophy in college, several states have opted to open up sports to home-schooled students. A Tim Tebow-style law could be coming to Texas after a favorable Senate Education Committee hearing.
“I really like to catch and tackle, those are my two favorite parts,” said 10-year-old Bo Carter, who likes to emulate his NFL heroes on the field.
His father, Robert, played offensive guard at the University of Texas-El Paso and wants his son to have the same sporting experience he did, even though Bo is home-schooled.
But in Texas, home-schooled students cannot compete in University Interscholastic League activities, but a bill by Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, would change that.
“At the end of the day this provides choices to parents,” said Taylor. “Right now, they don’t have that choice…and again, it’s good for the community, it’s good for the child.”
“It’s not an equal playing field,” said Kate Kuhlmann from the Association of Texas Professional Educators, who says this bill will not be fair to public school children. “There wouldn’t be the accountability measures that are in place for public school student, involving testing, discipline, attendance.”
The Carters just want the chance to opt in.
“These things define communities and brings communities together, and right now, we’re locked out,” said Robert Carter.
Texas currently has a ‘no-pass, no-play’ policy. If this law were to pass, home-school students would have to take a test in order to play, which created odd bedfellows at Thursday’s hearing. Both public school advocates and puritan home school advocates wanted to keep the two educational systems separate at all costs.
Right now, there are an estimated 320,000 children being home-schooled in Texas. According to the Texas Home School Association, parents must follow three simple requirements:
- The instruction must be legitimate
- The curriculum must be in visual form, such as books, work books and video
- And the curriculum must include five basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, math and good citizenship
Texas courts have ruled home schools are considered private schools, which are not regulated by the state.