As the first Special Session of the Texas Legislature begins to draw to a close, the chances of passing the Texas Parental Rights Restoration Act (TPRRA) are diminishing. HB 2557 made it further through the process this session than our bill in the last session. More legislators understand the problem facing fit parents in the abuse of the Grandparent Access Statute, and the support for addressing this devastating problem continues to grow. [Read more...]
Last week the Texas House considered numerous amendments to SB 1 regarding the budget and “fiscal matters.” One of those amendments was the one by State Rep. John Garza that was the same as HB 54 that would have mandated that UIL allow private schools to compete against public schools and that home school students would be able to participate in the school district in which they reside.
Unfortunately, the bill was killed on a point of order. Several legislators who strongly opposed the measure in spite of the many reasonable arguments made in favor of the measure, including the fact that two large private schools have been allowed to compete in UIL for almost 10 years, worked very hard to keep this bill from coming to a vote, because they knew it enjoyed a majority support of the House.
While we are disappointed in the outcome of this effort, it is the closest that we have come in making this change in the almost 20 years that we have been pushing to allow home schoolers to participate in UIL, and we did so in a cooperative effort with traditional private schools. We had more support than ever before as the Texas Senate passed a bill for private school participation three times. All those involved acknowledge that this bill was stalled until THSC and the home school community got involved.
We will continue to look for opportunities to end state-sanctioned discrimination against private and home school students by UIL. There may be other opportunities if other special sessions are called, but if not we will be back in the next regular session in two years.
The Special Session of the Texas Legislature continues to move ahead as the governor adds issues to the agenda that the legislature may address. Rep. John Garza has filed HB 54, which is the UIL participation bill from the regular session with additional language that will allow home schooled students to participate in UIL activities in the school district in which they live. The language in this amendment will require that home school students who live in the district be eligible for UIL participation and that they must homeschool for at least a year if they withdraw from public school before they can compete. Parents would be required to report that the student is passing all classes each reporting period.
Tomorrow the House will debate bills relating to the budget and public schools, and Representative Garza plans to offer the language of HB 54 as a floor amendment to one of these bills. As you may remember, UIL participation for private schools passed the Texas Senate on three occasions during the regular session (SB 1214, HB 370 and HB 1286), but the issue never made it to the floor of the Texas House. We anticipate that this will occur during debate tomorrow. Now is the time to call your state representative and ask him or her to support the Garza amendment to allow private and home school students to participate in UIL activities. Go here for talking points.