Texas House opens UIL competition to home school students
No state has more families educating their children at home then Texas - an estimated 350,000 students.
It is an option which has thus far demanded sacrifices with home schooled students ineligible to participate in extracurricular activities offered by local public schools - sports, band, theater, speech and many others.
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Wichita Falls Republican James Frank has waged a six-year battle to end the exclusion.
"Members these are not outsiders to your community they are your neighbors, they are your local taxpayers, they are the sons and daughters of your military," said Frank.
Lawmakers in the Texas House were persuaded, voting to follow 35 other states and allow home schooled students to participate in after-school University Interscholastic League activities offered within the public school districts where they reside.
"They are not exempt from taxes because they keep their kids home to be home schooled. They have a right to participate!" said State Representative Eddie Lucio III, a Brownsville Democrat.
To insure a "level playing field" and qualify under our state's existing "no-pass-no-play" guidelines, home schooled students would be required to demonstrate grade level proficiency on a nationally recognized standardized test.
Local school boards would also have the option to maintain their current exclusion of home schooled, unenrolled students from extra-curricular participation.
"It gives the district and the board 100 percent discretion to make their own decision," said Republican State Representative Dan Huberty of Kingwood.
The measure also empowers the UIL to establish additional guidelines for "home schooler" participation in the competitions it currently governs.
Expanding UIL competition to school students was opposed by the Texas High School Coaches Association.
With House approval, HB 547 moves to the Texas Senate for consideration.