Op-Ed: Delegate Rob Bell and the Tebow Bill

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If your homeschooler is an athlete, what should you do when he reaches high school age?  In many communities and for many sports, the only truly competitive athletics are those offered through the local high school.  Should you focus on what’s best for his academics, and homeschool him?  Or should you let him pursue his athletic dreams (and college scholarships) by enrolling in high school?

More importantly, why is Virginia forcing parents to make this difficult choice?

In 29 states, homeschoolers can participate in interschool competition – like sports, debate, and band – through their local high schools.  In Virginia, homeschoolers can participate through the 8th grade and can engage in extracurriculars and classes at their local high school.  However, they are banned from interschool competitions by the Virginia High School League.

The Tebow Bill, HB 1626, would change this.

To be eligible, HB 1626 requires a homeschooler to be an amateur, be under the age of 19, and be compliant with all team rules.  Pursuant to the homeschooling statute, the homeschooler must demonstrate evidence of academic progress for two years, which includes standardized testing or an annual review by the school system.  (This two-year requirement is to ensure that a failing public school student would not be able to use supposed homeschooling as a convenient way to keep playing sports.)  Last, HB 1626 makes eligibility a local option, meaning that each school board can make its own decision about whether to allow homeschoolers to participate.

The measure has been ferociously opposed by the VEA and school administrators, and Governor Mcauliffe has vetoed it. The General Assembly will attempt to override the veto on April 15.

My mother was a pioneer homeschooler who testified in Richmond in favor of Virginia’s original home schooling law.  From these modest beginnings, homeschooling is now a mainstream educational choice for more than 30,000 Virginian students. For some teenagers, homeschooling is a perfect academic fit.  No parent should be forced to choose between his child’s academics and athletics, at least not where the rules can be written to allow students to have both.  More than half the states allow this, and Virginia should do so as well.

 

 Republican Delegate Rob Bell Represents Virginia’s 58th District in the House of Delegates