June 22, 2007

House Bill 1569: Allows Homeschoolers Public School Access

Rep. Tony Goolsby

H.B. 1569 is going to be heard in the Public Education Committee May 16 at 8 o’clock. It is imperative that everyone contact the Committee.

This bill is dangerous because it uses the word “homeschool” and defines it, as well. Up to this point homeschooling has not been defined in Texas law. H.B. 1569 also gives many “freebies” which over time will bring more government regulation. We believe that entanglement with the government will weaken the independence of homeschools and eventually limit their freedom. Therefore, we urge you to call in opposition to this bill.

2/16/2007(House) Filed
2/22/2007(House) Read first time
2/22/2007(House) Referred to Public Education
4/16/2007(House) Public Hearing in the House Public Education Committee
4/17/2007(House) Left Pending in Committee
5/28/2007Legislature closed, bill died

HSLDA's Position:
None requested at this time.

Over a dozen states currently require public schools to allow homeschoolers access to classes or sports. These include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington. In both Arizona and Oregon, the law only requires school districts to allow access to “interscholastic” activities. Yet the effect of the laws in these two states generally allows homeschoolers to participate in any activities they choose.

Despite these laws, equal access to homeschoolers is not offered without some strings attached. Although specific requirements vary from state to state, homeschool students can typically participate in public school programs only if certain requirements are met. First, the student must be in compliance with the state homeschool law. Second, the student must meet the same eligibility requirements as a public school student. Finally, the state requires the student to verify that he or she is passing his or her core subjects. Consequently, the homeschooler may be required to provide achievement test scores or periodic academic reports, even if the state's homeschool statute does not otherwise require them.

Do parents have the right to choose the amount of public education their children receive? Although the courts have said “no,” the state legislatures are beginning to say “yes.” Courts do not find any “right” for homeschoolers to receive access to government funded educational services. State legislators, however, seem open to allowing homeschoolers the privilege of access to public school activities.

Part of the reason for this trend is financial. School districts in some areas are beginning to feel a decrease in funds due to the increasing number of students leaving public schools for private and home education. Schools may try to compete with private education by luring those students back with sports and academic classes, in order to regain at least partial funding for those students.

The access trend is not without potential hazards. Access supporters must remember to guard the right of parents to remain free from extraneous government regulation when they receive no government services. Despite both legal and political controversies, opening access to homeschoolers appears to be a growing trend.

For more information on equal access, please see our issue analysis, “Equal Access: Participation of Homeschooled Students in Public School Activities.”

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History