Decoding the Opposition’s “Alternate Facts”

During the April 6, 2017, public hearing on SB640 (UIL/”Tebow”) in the Senate Education Committee, a few of our group’s representatives testified in opposition to the bill. We received a lot of pushback from the legislators who weren’t interested in hearing an opposing opinion than their own. During the senators’ “discussions” (aka lectures) with our group representatives, a few of the committee members misstated facts or made statements that we were not allowed to address during the hearing. We’d like to take a moment to rebut or clarify those statements now. Here’s the videos:

  1.  Van Taylor misunderstands Dual Credit Requirements – Senator Van Taylor seems to be confused about the difference in standardized tests for high school students and entrance exams into higher learning institutions. He mistakenly says that homeschool students have to take standardized tests to be allowed to participate in Dual Credit at their local college. All students, including dual credit students, take an entrance exam as part of their admission’s requirements for higher learning. This is not just a homeschool requirement.  It is also not a “norm” test. It is an entrance exam equally administered to all applicants to a college and it is not a reason to justify additionally testing homeschoolers for participation in UIL. Public schoolers do not take standardized tests to participate in UIL or to be eligible under No Pass No Play. See the requirements for the Alamo Community College System Dual Credit requirements in Bexar County (one of the largest in the State) for both private/public schooler and homeschoolers. There is NO difference.

2. Video of Larry Taylor suggested that students being homeschooled could be “abused” – Senator Taylor states students are abused by not receiving a “proper” education and, therefore, the standardized testing provision in the bill is a good mechanism to prove otherwise. In this video, Senator Donna Campbell also thinks there should be a testing requirement for homeschoolers to measure “accountability”. If homeschoolers can be tested under this bill, what’s to stop the government from saying, “Well, these homeschool students don’t mind being tested, so what’s the problem with making all homeschool students do it? We have to test their academic performance to ensure they’re not being abused.” Mr. Taylor was alluding that some failing public school students would drop out of school to homeschool so they could cheat the system by still participating under UIL. I’d like to point out that same public school student was being “abused” by the public school system, not by the homeschooling one and it’s no reason to add testing “accountability” to homeschoolers.

3. In this video, Donna Campbell questions Read King about his homeschooling P.E. program – Newsflash: We don’t need public schools to provide Physical Education classes or opportunities; and as homeschoolers, we don’t have to prove “in a measurable way” how our kids are being taught PE at home, especially since it’s not a legally required course of instruction for homeschool/private school. Some public schoolers only requirement to pass PE is to show up to class. Is that her definition of “measurable”?

Below is the public school required coursework, per the Texas Education Code:



Here is the homeschool required coursework, per the Leeper decision:

4. In this video and this one, Senator Larry Taylor misunderstands the difference between standardized tests like STAAR and what is required under No Pass No Play. Again, this is misinformation. As we discussed in an earlier post from April 12th: 

“In section 411 of the UIL Constitution, it states that public school 9th graders should be promoted from the previous grade. 10th-12th graders need only to earn the required credits that count toward graduation (see below).

Presumably, that grade must be above a 70% to be considered a passing grade, although TEA/UIL allows that a school can set a stricter standard (see below). Under SB640, homeschoolers would be required to pass a standardized test every two years, as well as pass all their courses. This is an unequal standard with the greater burden placed on homeschoolers.

There seems to be some misinformation circulating, mainly from THSC and repeated by our legislators, about the STAAR requirement vs. No Pass No Play to be eligible to participate in UIL activities through the public schools.

STAAR is a Texas standardized test used for performance assessment and administered to students in 3rd grade, 5th grade, and 8th grade. It is not an annual test given to all students in every grade and does not influence UIL eligibility. UIL governs children from 7th-12th grade (and in some cases, 6th graders), thereby ruling out any governance of elementary children who participate in STAAR testing.  The final STAAR test is given to 8th graders. They must pass the test or follow the “grade placement committee (GPC)” guidelines to demonstrate grade-level proficiency (see below). Again, this doesn’t affect UIL eligibility because if an 8th grader does not pass the STAAR or cannot meet GPC standards agreed upon to show academic mastery prior to the start of 9th grade, the student may not be promoted to the next grade. The fact that a 9th grade student is enrolled suggests that they’ve already met promotion eligibility standards set by whatever school they matriculated from whether it was a private, public, charter, or homeschool. Why must homeschoolers be required to pass a standardized test to prove they have met some arbitrary standard?

“No Pass No Play” is the rule that TEA and UIL uses to determine participation in public school extracurricular activities, again for 7th-12th graders (see below). It’s based on students passing their required classes set forth by the Texas Education Code that earns accumulated credits towards high school graduation.”

5. Here Donna Campbell thinks “talented” homeschoolers should be able to show off their athletic abilities, but presumably they’re only able to do that in a public school setting.  You aren’t permanently homeschooled, Senator. You can choose to put your kid in public school. Also, public school isn’t the only place to excel in extracurricular activities. It’s actually the opposite. Public school athletes are leaving the school programs and prefer to compete with organizations like AAU. They get better, more intimate training and opportunities for higher visibility to scouts. NOTE: The irony of passing SB3 (“school choice” subsidies) was to say public schools are failing, but now they want to encourage homeschoolers to use it for athletics opportunities. What does that say about the priority of the Texas education system?  You’re now inviting the public school rot into our community by allowing an opportunity for failing public school students to find ways to get around meeting eligibility standards, thereby, negatively associating homeschoolers with cheating behavior, poor academic performance, and subsequently, inviting more oversight on homeschooling families. Here are two great articles about the homeschool athlete and alternatives way to get them to college teams. It brings up great ways students (not just homeschoolers) can work directly with organizations like the NCAA Eligibility Office to be able to participate in collegiate sports without having had competed through your local public school.

6. Video of Donna Campbell stating homeschoolers should be allowed to participate because they pay taxes. My 65 year old neighbor who is a retired public school teacher also pays taxes, but she doesn’t get access to the school resources either. Neither do other private schoolers. Does this mean private schoolers now have a case for violation of equal protection under the law?

7. Donna Campbell said in this video and this one she didn’t understand why opposers of SB640 don’t want others to have choice when it’s an “opt-in” program. Let me explain it in way that a conservative, pro-life senator might relate – Planned Parenthood could make the same statement and as conservatives we oppose them, too. For us, it’s not about trying to keep others from exercising “rights”, but an effort to preserve those rights. As parents, we already have choice. We can choose to homeschool or choose public school. If you want “both” then perhaps you need to enroll in K-12 which is a public school online from home. You’re still not considered a homeschooler, and there is no need to make all the other concessions for homeschoolers. It harms no one. So choose. Which is more important – liberty or sports? In order to expand their spectrum of “choice”, they want to endanger our homeschool liberties. They already have a choice.