IT APPEARS THAT THERE MAY BE AN unfunded mandate created by the proposed law. The costs to support any homeschooled students who want to participate at their local public school would not be covered by the Foundation School Program, the funding arm of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Rather, funding costs would fall completely onto the public school without any reimbursement from the state. If they are already charging other public school kids for related costs, they can, of course, also charge the homeschooled kids. But if they are not .... Schools may have to make cuts in already tight budgets in order to find the extra funds to support the homeschool student participation that the State is seeking to require of them.
Top Ten Issues With The Texas Tebow Bill.
Comments from Senators in a previous session's Education Committee hearing:
"We are working with UIL to establish a test for the kids to take, a 'national' test, even."
"We're actually trying to increase the rigor for home schools, to make sure they jump through a little extra hoop to make sure that it's not in question."
"And if proven that they can't come up to the standards, then we can revisit it."
"It is incumbent upon the parent to show that the child is 'achieving'."
"And you know, if in the future, it doesn't work out, we can revisit it."
Listen for yourself. tlcsenate.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=801
10. Discrimination. Why are Homeschoolers so special? If UIL activity participation is so important, why not make it available for ALL Texas schoolchildren, even those in small Private School situations?
Why is a law is needed in order to clarify this entitled status specifically for homeschoolers? We are told that there is not political support for traditional private school participation but that there is support to allow homeschoolers into the public school arena. Why the distinction?
Yes, we know that THSC supported a separate private school only bill that did not include homeschoolers in the past. Why is it UIL that does not want 'traditional' private school students but are willing to welcome homeschoolers? Are legislators more concerned about the extracurricular activities of homeschoolers than those of 'traditional' private schoolers?
If it is really about what is best for Texas kids, shouldn't UIL language state that ANY school-aged student should be allowed to participate in UIL activities at the school in the district where they reside and according to the existing education and evaluation frameworks already in place for their chosen educational system?
9. A specific testing requirement is required of homeschoolers only. What else will come up?
When we were first made aware of Tim Lambert's and THSC's efforts to seek legislation requiring public school inclusion of homeschool students back in 2005, Tim was adamant that there would be no testing requirement.
From his email April 4, 2005 email:
“The parent will sign an affidavit and give it to the principal of the school their child would be in to confirm that the student is a full time student and passing his courses. The public school has no authority over the courses or curriculum in the home school. The school is prohibited from requiring a test of the home school students. . . . The wording is critical and does not open any door for control of home schools. . . . (the bill) will not require anyone who wishes to take advantage of classes or services at public schools to give up any of their home school freedom. We would never support legislation that would do that.”
Here we are 16 years later and if the head of the largest homeschool lobbying association in Texas can be persuaded to relax vigilance in preserving homeschool freedom, I can only imagine what additional 'requirements' might be seen as acceptable in another even 2 years' time. We've all watched the excessive overreach of government. It's governmental nature to seek MORE control in our lives, not less.
8.Taxes don't buy you a ticket to use public facilities or get public services.
Using the 'I pay taxes and therefore I am entitled to use ______' argument falls short. Will homeschoolers also be allowed to use the school library? Or use the school Chemistry Lab? Or check out the same textbooks and/or iPads to use with our students educated at home? Can taxpaying homeschool team members freely schedule their own sporting events and practices at the fabulous public school stadiums? Our taxes pay for those things, too. Where is the line drawn and why?
Should childless taxpayers or extended family taxpayers (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) get the same entitlements under this 'I like to get something for what I paid' argument? Are more benefits offered those who pay higher property tax bills? Are renters or low income families entitled to less? Paying taxes does not 'buy' use.
And what about the 'traditional' private school kids? Not only do they pay taxes, they also pay sometimes exorbitant private school fees and still are not guaranteed equivalent activities to those found in UIL at their neighborhood public school.
7. Should public school families be allowed a la carte school choices, too?
We understand clearly that there are many parents who really want parts of the public school experience for their kids but who don't want their kids to attend full-time public school. It would be nice to have an a la carte system where we, as parents and taxpayers, could pick and choose the parts we like. But like it or not, the two education systems (public and private) do not and should not have interchangeable pieces like Legos.
Otherwise, why not give the public school families the option of picking the parts of their education and school-activities where they'd like to break off on their own from their local school district? If a public school has a poor performing science department, should the parents be allowed to pull their kids during science classes and take them to outside tutors during that time period or attend science museum classes? If a school has no funding for the drama department, should students be allowed to leave campus for one class period to participate in the local community theater organization?
Our public school funding, for better or worse, is based on attendance. If the kids are going to be enrolled in the public school, then they have to attend the public school. Likewise, if parents deem that they prefer to oversee their children's educational experiences, they can't expect to drop off their kids for one or two activities. And how would funding for that work out anyway? Who will pay the additional costs?
6. Destruction of existing homeschool opportunities.
Parents and coaches have worked hard to ensure that Homeschool Sports Associations, organizations and other organized homeschool opportunities are growing every year. The Tebow Bill will strike a death blow to some of these groups, further eliminating opportunities for the many, many parents who do not wish to have their children in the public school arena, even for extracurricular activities. Perhaps THSC could focus more on helping those homeschool programs to grow and flourish rather than trying to get homeschooled kids back into the public schools.
5. The bill usurps Parental Authority.
Additional requirements will immediately be placed on homeschooling families who wish to participate in UIL activities. A Standardized Testing component was added during the last legislative session while attempting to pass this bill.
From the 2005 email received from the leader of the Texas Homeschool advocacy group, noted earlier in this document:
“To address your question of how this does not affect our home school freedom, only the parent of the child who is participating in UIL would be required to affirm that their student is passing to the principal of the school. …There is no reporting now and only students who wish to take part in UIL would be required to affirm that they are full time students and passing all classes each reporting period as the teaches of public school students must do.
Ten years later, however, they will be adding to the requirements. Rather than work within the existing law covering homeschool under Leeper v. Arlington, it is reported that ‘THSC worked with UIL to craft language to the bill that would mirror, as closely as possible, the applicable requirements for public school’.
4. How do you account for learning paths that don't strictly mimic public schools?
The very nature of homeschooling in Texas allows for Parent-Directed education. That means we may not be (and most likely are not) following a particular school district's grade level objectives, lesson plans, rubrics, plan of courses, etc. and certainly not in totality. And that means we are not able to compare students-to-students, apple-to-apple style. For instance, consider the following questions:
3. Opportunities already exist for those who wish to become part of the public school system.
Any family can make the choice to enter the public school system at any time if the services offered there are deemed critical to their child’s development. Many families choose to homeschool until high school and then enroll in public school for this very reason. We do not begrudge them this choice.
2. Many of the states with Tebow Laws also have strict regulations / requirements for homeschooling.
Arizona Families for Home Education points out that in Arizona, "Any enrollment in a publicly funded program puts the student under the authority of the public school and causes them to be subject to public school requirements and regulations including AIMS testing, etc.
Many of the states with Tebow Laws have only recently adopted them. The long-term ramifications are still unknown.
And then there is Louisiana where their recently adopted Tebow Law was deemed unconstitutional and was struck down.
1. It really is the top of the slippery slope down to more homeschool legislation.
It's not "fear" that drives the opposition to the Tebow Bill as it is being offered. It's the tendency of elected officials and school boards to seek control and knowing the way that 'precedent' can lead to growing consequences.
It just takes a tiny toehold for government to push its way fully into any area of our lives, so one must weigh the benefits carefully when ceding authority.
Sure, THSC does some good things for homeschoolers. But on this point many, many Texas homeschoolers have educated themselves and disagree. You can see that strong opposition throughout the many homeschool discussion boards in Texas. You can see that passionate opposition all over Facebook.
You can see the opposition in a Petition from 2 legislative sessions ago that had tremendous response in spite of not having corporate funds to promote it. THSC has spent all kinds of money lobbying. No2Tebow is opposition from ACTUAL Texas homeschool families.