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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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'Tebow bill' seeing some movement this session

Friday, February 3, 2012

A controversial bill regarding homeschoolers that has surfaced before but stalled has finally made it out of committee, and will go to the floor of the House for a vote.

The so-called "Tebow bill," if passed, will allow students in the state who are homeschooled to participate in sports and other programs in public schools. It's named after NFL star Tim Tebow, who successfully pushed for the bill's passage in Florida when he was being homeschooled and wanted to play football for the local high school. Other states have since followed suit, and more continue to try to pass the bill.

In essence, the bill would prohibit public schools from joining an organization governing interscholastic programs that does not deem a homeschooler eligible to participate. Many parents of homeschoolers have supported the bill, making the point that, although their children do not attend public school, they still pay the same taxes to support public schools as other parents.

The tax issue is the heart of the matter. Parents pay the same taxes even if they don't take advantage of the service. From their perspective, if they want their children to receive some benefit from public schools, they should be able to do so.

From the schools' perspective, it's more a matter of being responsible for students who are not, in most ways, under their umbrella. Making sure students are academically eligible, working with parents and enforcing rules could provide some difficulties. Of course, these students would not fall under the Average Daily Membership (ADM) for schools either, and that helps determine how much money the system receives from the state.

It's too early to tell how far the Tebow bill will make it in the General Assembly this year, but it at least has progressed farther than ever. And it will help bring this interesting debate more into the public arena. That in itself is a huge step forward.

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