House Bill 547 could mean big things for Dallas’ homeschooled children if the Senate approves.
The bill, which cleared the Texas House this week and is also referred to as the University Interscholastic League (UIL) Equal Access Bill or the Tim Tebow Bill, would allow homeschooled students to participate in public school extracurriculars, such as sports, band, choir, fine arts and other programs.
“The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) is pleased and encouraged by the progress today in the Texas House of Representatives,” the THSC said in a May 12 statement. “The strong, bipartisan passage on second reading following thoughtful debate brings Texas homeschool families closer to equal access to extracurricular activities enjoyed by their public school peers.”
A House Research Organization analysis found that the bill would make Texas the 36th state in the country to welcome homeschooled kids into public school extracurriculars.
“THSC has strongly supported this bill from its inception because we firmly believe in the right of each family to decide whether or not their children will participate in extracurricular activities through the public schools,” THSC continued.
The bill would be significant progress for the Lone Star State’s homeschooled population, which grows by the year and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the amount of Texas school-aged children opting for homeschooling instead of public school almost tripled in 2020 from 4.5% in the spring to 12.3% in the fall. The Dallas-Fort Worth area reflects this trend. The DFW metro area saw its homeschooling rate rise from 5.8% to 8.2% during the same period.
“We look forward to seeing this needed reform advance through the Senate (where it has already passed three times previously), land on Gov. Abbott’s desk to be signed, and become law, joining 35 other states in the Union which already provide equal access to extracurricular activities to homeschool students,” THSC said.
Dallas Morning News sounded its support for this legislation and any future similar bills that makes UIL more accessible for homeschooled students. A recent piece from the publication’s editorial board said that, despite homeschooling’s growing stature as part of Texas’ educational system, it is unfortunate that homeschoolers are “unable to take part in extracurricular activities at their local public school, even when their parents are paying property taxes to support those activities.”
Dallas Morning News also called out the Texas Legislature for bowing under pressure from Texas public school coaches, teachers and education groups thatoppose equal access to extracurriculars for homeschooled children, noting “that needs to change” because it is “unfair to taxpaying parents and their kids.”
The bill has since moved to the Senate for consideration.