Homeschool athletes in Virginia desiring to compete for their local public high schools have effectively been banned from playing with teams after Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.-Va.) vetoed the “Tebow bill” for the third consecutive year.
Named after the Heisman Trophy winner and former National Football League (NFL) quarterback, Tim Tebow – who played high school football and baseball in Florida as a homeschooler – Alabama's Tim Tebow Bill was designed to give children taught from home the same opportunity to play interscholastic sports as students attending conventional public and private schools, but McAuliffe continued his war on school choice by wiping out athletic and other extracurricular options for homeschoolers.
Attack on homeschoolers
The Virginia governor challenged the Tebow bill that has already been adopted in many states so that it will not overturn the state’s restriction on Virginia homeschool students from competing in high school sports and participating in other various interscholastic activities statewide and in the nation.
A highly contended argument is offered by McAuliffe to try and justify his continued rejection of the legislation designed to promote school choice.
"[Signing the Tebow bill] would disrupt the level playing field Virginia's public schools have developed over the past century [and codify] academic inequality," the Democrat claimed.
He attempted to qualify his reasoning by indicating that students educated from home do not satisfy the same academic criteria as students enrolled in the state’s public schools.
Contrary to McAuliffe’s contention, the Tebow bill does, in fact, call for homeschool students to demonstrate academic competency at their grade levels if they want to play interscholastic sports.
“[T]he Virginia bill, known as HB 1578, does require homeschool students who want to compete to pass standardized tests and demonstrate ‘evidence of progress’ in their school curriculum for at least two years,” CBN News reports. “They must also meet public school immunization standards.”
Homeschool community mixed
Even though many homeschoolers across the nation stand in strong support of the Tebow bill, attorneys at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) maintain that their organization is officially neutral on the legislation.
HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff explained to CBN News that his legal group’s central focus is to protect the rights of homeschool families, and it often refrains from taking legal action to secure more public school rights for children educated from home. He says many homeschool parents are divided over the Tebow bill.
The homeschool community basically looks at the issue from two basic viewpoints.
“Some believe it's better to build up homeschool sports associations,” CBN News’ Heather Sells explained. “Others believe that homeschool athletes will suffer if they're locked out of public school sports programs.”
Today, because of the Tebow bill and other pro-school choice legislation, a majority of the states in the U.S. permit homeschoolers to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities offered at public schools.
Tebow bill spreading?
When asked about the likelihood of the Tebow bill eventually passage in the commonwealth of Virginia, Woodruff was confident that homeschool students throughout the state will be allowed to compete with their publicly schooled peers in the near future.
"The trend is in their favor," the Christian attorney of the Purcellville, Virginia-based nonprofit legal group shared with CBN News, "it's probably only a matter of time."
The Virginia Beach-based news group announced that legislature similar to the Tebow bill is currently being considered in Texas.
Of all the states that have thus far passed the Tebow bill, not one has moved to repeal the pro-homeschool legislation so far.
Tebow, who is a champion of homeschoolers – so they can have the same opportunity to thrive in sports as he did when he was a Florida teen – has made it a mission to help disadvantaged youth around the world through his Tim Tebow Foundation.
The former Denver Bronco, New York Jet, New England Patriot and Philadelphia Eagle quarterback is following up the years he played high school baseball as a homeschooler by playing as a catcher for the New York Mets’ minor league team, the Scottsdale Scorpions in Arizona – in the hopes of joining the Major League Baseball (MLB) team at Citi Field this season to get a shot at the World Series. Spring training is getting under way for the Mets in Arizona’s Cactus League, as all eyes will be on the football and prospective baseball star in the upcoming weeks.