It is a bill that has come through the Texas Legislature several times. Allowing homeschooled students to participate in UIL activities. Back in 2017, NBC 5 profiled Marin Malone of McKinney, when a similar bill was on the table. She was homeschooled, and played volleyball on a club team, but wanted to play with her public school. She didn’t get to, and her mother, four years later, is hoping kids get the chance.
“I think just to be able to have that, like I said, the excitement of knowing that you’ve got a home crowd behind you, that is always a lot more exciting,” said Sharla Malone.
The House passed their bill last week. This time around, the bill allows school districts to decide whether or not to participate. Students can only participate in activities in the school near where they live. The Texas Homeschool Coalition is pushing for the bill to pass, to give kids the opportunity to play.
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“Post COVID, everyone has a little bit more exposure and appreciation for homeschooling, and the home school population in Texas tripled, so there is a lot more relevance to it right now,” said Jeremy Newman, Director of Public Policy, Texas Homeschool Coalition.
But some coaches have come out strongly against the bill, saying it creates an unlevel playing field. The president of the Texas High School Coaches Association, Coach Rodney Webb, used this example of two basketball teams.
“You have a public school basketball team and all of their kids are in school all day. They don't have any home school kids. You might have another school down the road that allows home-school kids. Let’s just say that entire basketball team decides they are going to be home-schooled. Well they are practicing as often as they want during the day, they are getting private lessons, they are spending three of four hours in the morning with a private instructor, that creates an un-level playing field for that team or that program,” said Webb.
Webb, who also coaches football at Denton Guyer, has concerns about eligibility.
“They are not subjected to the same rigor. There are questions about how are you to determine eligibility, academic eligibility of an athlete who has been homeschooled,” Webb added.
With just two weeks left, this is now in the Senate’s hands. It could come up in the education committee, which meets Tuesday.