Senate Bill 640 a way to get funding

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Home-school students could play sports and participate in academic events with public school students if a proposed Texas Legislature bill passes.

State Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, filed the bill — also called the “Tim Tebow bill” — to allow home-school families to pay a fee to participate in University Interscholastic League events.

It’s named after the former NFL and University of Florida quarterback who was home-schooled in Florida, but competed with public school teammates.

Senate Bill 640 would allow home-schooled students to participate in UIL events through their local public school, though they would have to pass a nationally recognized test to show grade-level proficiency and follow the same guidelines a public school has set for participation.

According to the Texas Home-school Coalition, Texas has about 350,000 children who are home-schooled.

Taylor told the DMN the bill would not regulate home-schoolers at large. The testing requirement would be only for those who want to opt into UIL events.

State Rep. DeWayne Burns, R-Cleburne, said he’s talked to many home-school families in both Johnson and Bosque counties.

“Their concerns were, sure they would love equal access, but they don’t want any strings attached to that,” Burns said. “Any strings would limit their freedom to the type of education they would like to give them. They were choosing to home-school their children in the first place because they don’t like all the strings attached to public school from the state and federal government.”

Burns said the bill doesn’t seem to be high on the priority list of the home-school families that he’s talked with.

Long-time home-school teacher Terri White of Cleburne said she is opposed to the bill for various reasons.

“I am against standardized testing because it only tests one’s ability in the ‘art of test-taking,’” White said. “Two of the primary benefits of homeschooling are that students can learn at their own pace and can study from curriculum designed for their particular learning styles. This is a great a boon, especially for those with learning differences who generally don’t score well on standardized tests, but still know their material. They just need to be evaluated unconventionally.

“As a result, this bill would not benefit students with learning differences. Further, even though home-schoolers cover all the subjects that public students do, some offer them at different grade levels than the public school. This again points to a customized education that is a benefit of homeschooling, instead of a one-size-fits-all education.”

In Johnson County, White said home-school students can participate in sports through the Johnson County Sports Association.

JCSA was formed to provide home-school students team sports. They serve both junior and high school age students.

JCSA is affiliated with state-wide Christian organizations and national home-school groups. They offer football, basketball, track, baseball, volleyball and Sigma Swimming.

In addition, White said other venues offer a private school version of UIL for the fine arts and academic subjects.

“The last time the legislature attempted this type of bill, it tacked on two bills that would raise school taxes by over 50 percent and give any branch of the government the right to enter and search private residences without a warrant or probable cause,” she said. “Thankfully, it was voted down.”

If SB 640 were to pass, White said those who don’t participate in home-school sports associations and have no issues with standardized testing will likely participate.

“Also, many families who would like to home-school have not done so because they still want their kids involved in public school sports,” she said. “This would provide that opportunity for them.”

Cleburne ISD Athletic Director Mark Walker said as a public school district, they follow all policies and procedures as directed by the UIL, which governs those programs.

“This includes any changes to policy that could be made, in order for our district to remain in compliance with the UIL, and eligible for participation,” Walker said.
Cleburne Times Review
 
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