Tim Tebow bill makes progress

Published 7:04 pm Saturday, April 4, 2009

A bill that would allow home-schooled students to participate in public and non-public school athletics may be gaining more acceptance in the Alabama Senate.

Home-schoolers and public school officials from across the state packed the Star Wars room of the Alabama State House Wednesday to present pros and cons to the Education Committee. State Sen. Hank Erwin (R-Montevallo), the bill’s main sponsor and a committee member, was pleased with the results.

“At the end of the meeting, Committee chairwoman Sen. Vivian Figures presented the idea to call a home schooling summit to try to work out differences and move the bill forward,” Erwin said. “There was no action taken, but that was a very positive step in the right direction.”

Senate Bill 305 is named after Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy winner and quarterback for the national champion Florida Gators — a home-schooler himself. Twenty-nine states have passed similar bills.

“If 29 other states have found a way to make it work, surely can Alabama,” Erwin said.

The Alabama Education Association and the Senate Education Committee have been adamantly opposed to the idea of home-schooled students playing sports without being enrolled full time in public school.

Many high school principals are also opposed to the bill. Some contend that a student could fail out of public school, enroll as a home-schooler and become eligible to play again.

“That’s not what athletics are supposed to represent,” Jemison High School Principal Alan Thompson said. “They’re supposed to represent the school they’re attending. Tim Tebow was the exception.”

Erwin’s office will represent home-schoolers on the summit committee. Using football terminology, he said even though the bill is not out of committee, it’s still in play.

“We’re moving the ball forward,” he said. “It’s slow, but like the wishbone offense, we’re moving it down the field 1 yard at a time.”