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LEGISLATION ALERT: This bill may be voted out of committee tomorrow 3/28 and pushed along towards adoption by the legislature. Be informed. Feel free to forward this to your friends. Let’s start a trail of discussion.

 Click on this link and then on the Part II from yesterday, March 26, 2013 in re: the Tim Tebow bill SB929 THSC is working hard to get through the Texas Senate Education committee.
Discussion goes for about an hour. I transcribed longhand as much as I could take down before starting dinner tonight. I think I got most of the key points. I am including some highlights below.
***Also, I am trying to find the amended bill language that Tim Lambert said in committee that THSC worked with UIL on concerning the new testing requirement to have home schooled students undergo Nationally Normed Standardized Achievement testing in the first 6 weeks of the school year if  they wish to participate in UIL activities. ***Anyone have a link?***
TRANSCRIPT-rough draft excerpts
Sen. Paxton reading: A homeschooled student who participates in a UIL activity is subject tot he same standards and relevant rules as a public schooled student within the context of the activity. The home schooled student must demonstrate grade level proficiency on an exam in  the first six weeks of the school year. To qualify for participation, the student must score within the average of their peers in the same grade level. This test qualifies the student to compete within the calendar year. The parent or legal guardian is responsible for verifying the student has a passing grade for each course the student is taught for the remainder of the school year. If a student withdraws from a public school to become home schooled, the student is ineligible to compete in UIL events during the remainder of that particular school year.
There was discussion with a Mike Motheral, the superintendent of schools for Sundown ISD who also was representing the Texas Association of Community Schools, the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas Association of School Boards and the Senate Education Committee members who were present. Mr. Motheral suggested repeatedly that the ‘rigor’ of academics was ‘not there’ in homeschooling of certain kids and he expressed his worries. The committee members countered with their position that they felt kids whose parents chose a different educational option were being discriminated against and that there was no level playing field for kids to be able to participate in sports. There was also discussion that the homeschooled students would have to jump through extra hoops and that could even increase the ‘rigor’ of their educational accountability. In addition, the door was clearly left open that if the UIL participating kids ended up not performing academically, the door was open to revisiting the whole topic.
Sen. Campbell, Sen. Paxton, et al… all discussed the ‘substitute’ bill (to SB929) and that the ‘new testing requirement’ was on page 2, but I have yet to find text for that ‘substitute’ bill.
Several parents testified opposing the bill for a variety of reasons. One key thing that was brought up by Jeremy Blosser (sp?) was that the bill was full of undefined terms that would undoubtedly need to be ‘defined’; words such as ‘verification’; ‘passing grades’; ‘satisfactory progress towards academic advancement or promotion’. He also pointed out that the TEA would undoubtedly want to get involved in additional rulemaking. He also pointed out that if Leeper v. Arlington was argued today with this language existing, it would likely have been decided and worded differently.
Tim Lambert defended the bill and the ‘risks’ pointing to states like Arizona and Idaho. Sen. Patrick rebutted Mr. Blosser and other parents saying as long as he and others like him were in the legislature, we (homeschoolers) were safe and didn’t have to worry about future legislation or regulation. Tim Lambert pointed to the fact that the high regulation states are more difficult for homeschooler but that he’s not as worried about Texas since he sees our state as a low regulation atmosphere. But that’s just it. I personally don’t want to have to gamble that people who agree  with me on this will remain in power in our state government. Elections have a funny way of surprising us sometimes.
The Deputy Director of UIL, Jamie Harrison, said when asked that UIL would be satisfied with parental verification of ‘passing grades’; but he added that he was not so sure that other public schooled parents would be so willing to trust or be satisfied. Sen. Paxton queried whether or not Harrison thought the testing in the bill would be helpful in addressing those trust issues. THSC’s Tim Lambert took the reply on this. “Our (THSC’s) response in actually responding to this concern from a number of legislators was to adopt this language of using Nationally Normed Standardized Achievement Testing. And the requirement there was that they (home schooled kids wanting to participate in UIL) score at the average, which is 50% or above.”  So that’s where my jaw dropped. That Tim and THSC would work with UIL to legislate testing of homeschooled kids at any level is mind boggling to me. Slippery slope anyone? ~deep breath~~
So that’s when Sen. Lucio took off on a tangent. He asked of Tim… “Not related to the bill but somewhat for information purposes, are you aware of any statistics that would allow us to know how homeschoolers are doing based on whether or not they finalized their studies at home? In other words, are there any dropouts along the way who don’t fulfill their total school requirements at home? Or can you.. you are… that’s what you are involved with on a daily basis? What can you tell us about? IS it a 100% passing grade? 50? In terms of whether or not they’re fulfilling their school studies at home?” Sen. Lucio followed that line of questioning with an inquiry about what THSC is doing to provide outreach to those homeschoolers who drop out or haven’t completed their studies. And then Sen. Lucio asked about how many special needs students are home schooled.
It’s clear that there are legislators who don’t know much about homeschooling, but once the topic is brought up, they wonder if perhaps the state shouldn’t be more involved. Not good.
Oh. And stats Sen. Patrick offered… there are
5 million public schooled kids in Texas
150,000 in public charter schools
225,000 in private schools
300,000 in home schools
I know this takes lots of time to wade through, but these are your homeschool rights we are talking about.


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