In Texas, the Tim Tebow Bill is working its way through the State Legislature. It promises equal UIL participation for homeschoolers. On the surface. But it has problems. In a state where there is zero regulation for homeschooling, the bill actually inserts a testing requirement for students who participate in UIL.
I do not support this bill, as I do not support regulation in homeschools. In a letter to the members of the Senate Education Committee, I shared why. I'm sharing that letter with you today.
As you are aware,
homeschools fall under the definition of private schools, giving us 100%
freedom to direct the education of our children. No testing is required, no
state curriculum must be followed. I believe that at some point in the future,
the Tim Tebow Bill would lead to a loss of these freedoms. Right now we are THE
BEST state in the country in which to Homeschool, and many, many families have
their home state simply for this reason. It’s that important to them.
There are many Homeschool families who oppose this bill, because we all believe that it will lead to questioning of our curriculum, “passing” grades, and how we spend our day, all of which will lead down a path to regulations that we currently do not have. It will not take long for the parent of a public school team member, a public school teacher, or a coach to question the fairness of allowing homeschooled children to participate in UIL activities while not being required to follow all public school rules (curriculum, tests, etc.). This will open a new discussion, which will eventually end up in
Austin as a bill
requiring more intense scrutiny of how homeschoolers educate their children.
How do I know this? Two reasons. First, in the first year of our homeschooling in
my parents were arrested on charges of truancy. Who called the police? A local
school official. Second, I am a local contact for families in my area who
are interested in homeschooling their children. I get calls and emails of all
sorts from new or current homeschooling families telling of trouble with the
local school district. The majority of public school officials are not friendly
to homeschoolers, but see them as a threat to their funding. The passage of the
Tim Tebow Bill will most certainly heighten this problem.
I do not want or need a state curriculum or outline to educate my children. Many may see this as my having something to hide, but it’s actually quite the opposite. In fact I welcome any who read this letter to visit us in our Homeschool to witness how homeschooling benefits children.
We did not use a textbook, and no one took a test. Neither was necessary, because they lived the story through real books and walking in the
Alamo. Some books we read were far above
the “reading level” of my younger children, but they were a part of our “curriculum”
because they are exciting stories.
This same type of education takes place over and over in our home. If one child is slow to gain math concepts, we spend as much time as necessary to gain mastery. One math book might take a year and a half, and the next one might only take 4 months.
One of my children had the hardest time understanding pi, so we spent about 3 weeks on what the math book considered a one-week lesson. I sat by my daughter as she worked problem after problem, always with my help, until she understood it. On the very last day of that lesson, she said, “I finally understand, Mom. I can do this page alone.”
Another child has an advanced level of comprehension in every single subject (and every extracurricular activity he tries). He typically moves ahead in his work, even catching up to his older brother and sharing some lessons with him.
One of my children (age 9) has such a desire for learning that every new thing fascinates him, so as soon as he discovers a new topic, he follows every rabbit trail he can. A love of tigers led him to study where they live in the wild, which led to a fascination for Africa, which led to a desire to read maps, which led to an obsession with a high-school geography book, which led to an interest in the layers of the earth which all made sense because he plays Minecraft. I don’t even know what grades all those things would be taught in a public school, but it doesn’t matter, because he studied them all voluntarily. Again, no textbook was involved and no test was required. I knew exactly what he had learned because he kept telling me. : ) All of this was done alongside math, spelling, cursive, reading, and history.
I could go on, but you get the idea. This concept is not new to homeschoolers. THIS is why we in
highly value our regulation-free homeschools. The joy of learning is so
exciting to witness in our kids when not hampered by a list of do’s and don’ts,
grade levels, and passing requirements. Not every family structures their
education like our family, but that’s the beautiful part! Some families DO use
textbooks, tests, and standardized testing. Because they can, not because they
This bill is not all it's advertised to be.There are a few common arguments against this bill, which I will address:
We pay school taxes. Why shouldn't we use the school in exchange?
Fred Watt, a homeschool dad and homeschool sports coach, answered that question best in his own analysis of the bill:
"I find it highly ironic and in fact a bit hypocritical that so many homeschoolers -- those of us who are quick to self-identify as conservative Christians, and profess a strong affinity toward a strict constructionist view of the Constitution -- would be jumping on the bandwagon to push something that effectively amounts to . . . an entitlement!"My family pays $200 per month in school taxes for a school we don't use. I don't like it. I'd rather put $200 per month into my homeschool, But taxes are a necessary evil. For the county taxes I pay, I'd love to submit a request to have my gravel county road paved nice and smooth. But that's not how it works. The senior citizens down the street pay school taxes; what do they get out of it? Nothing. Because it's not an order form for goods and services. It's how government operates, whether we like it or not.
We live in a rural area, where there are no homeschool teams.
My short answer: start one. Every other homeschool team/association started with just one parent who was willing to do the work. These homeschool teams and groups are not limited to the large cities; our tiny community has a homeschool sports association, started by parents who wanted to give their kids a team sport. They went on to compete against public and private schools and even win tournaments. Just do a quick Google search of Texas Homeschool Sports Associations and you'll see that this is not a far-fetched idea.
My reeeealy personal (and controversial) opinion is that those who support this bill are not of the first wave of homeschoolers in Texas who fought for their freedom and value it highly. They are of the second wave who may not share the same convictions for homeschooling their children. Some of them do it because it's easy to do in Texas without realizing that this was not always the case. Some choose to keep the option of public school open for the future because they are flexible in their opinion of education options.
That first wave (to which I belong) remembers that it was a hard and scary decision to do what no one else was doing, to be ridiculed by their own family members, to fear (and sometimes suffer) arrest, to stay indoors during school hours because any neighbor or passerby might call CPS, and to keep an attorney's phone number near the front door in case that dreaded knock should come. THEY (WE) are the families who oppose this bill because THEY (WE) know that freedom is precious, and for Texans it's like living in the promised land. We want the freedom, we have the freedom, and we will fight to preserve that freedom.
The one answer I don't have: Why the Texas Homeschool Coalition is pushing this bill so fervently. I cannot figure that out. But I disagree with them on this issue and I will reconsider my free recommendation of their association to the homeschoolers I speak with constantly.
To read about my parent's arrest, click here. To read about my family's part in the 1986 Austin TEA Party, click here. As you can see, I take this very seriously. : )
For more on why this bill is not good for Texas, start here. Sign the petition and share, share, share.