Texas could soon be the next state to let homeschooled kids play in public school sports after legislators passed a so-called “Tim Tebow” bill.
In a win for the school choice movement, the bill will now advance to the state House after clearing the Texas Senate in a close 16–14 vote, the Washington Examiner reported.
“This opportunity helps all kids learn, grow, and develop their gifts,” Republican state senator Angela Paxton said of the bill, according to the Examiner.
Teachers, coaches oppose new law
As might be expected, the measure has faced fierce opposition from groups representing public school coaches and teachers, The Dallas Morning News notes.
A previous effort to pass the bill failed, but Texas is now following the example of 36 other states after what the Morning News calls an “unprecedented” shift in favor of the school choice initiative.
“This is working so well in 36 other states. I look forward to Texas being one,” Paxton said, according to the Examiner.
Supporters say it’s common sense to include homeschooled children in public school extracurricular activities that their parents are supporting with their taxes, but the bill has met opposition from Republicans and Democrats alike. Critics reportedly claim it would enable public school athletes to “game the system” by dropping out.
Big win for school choice
Democratic state Sen. José Menéndez said the bill could “[open] a huge can of worms,” and Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst was similarly apprehensive.
“If I didn’t have to be in school and I could be taking my lessons with my pro in the morning and then do my classes whenever I want to do them and I get to play for the school, there could potentially be some incentive for me to drop out of school and just be a homeschooler,” she said, according to the Examiner.
However, the bill’s defenders say it will ensure “no pass, no play” rules are followed by requiring homeschooled students to pass standardized tests, as the Morning News notes.
The bill is named for Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Tim Tebow, who played football for a public high school in Florida despite receiving a homeschool education before his rise to stardom in the NFL.
The measure’s passage comes shortly before the end of the legislative session on May 31. If successful, schools could begin admitting homeschooled kids into extracurricular programs next fall, the Morning News reports.