Yesterday morning in the House Education Committee, HB 926 failed on a 12-9 vote. The bill, patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville), would allow home schooled students to participate in public school sports on the rationale that they contribute equal financial support to the schools, that they are required to maintain certain state academic standards, and that they are as much a part of the school’s community as any public school student. Just like Heisman Trophy Winner Tim Tebow was allowed to do in Florida. The opposition argued that a "double standard" would be created if home schooled students were allowed to participate in athletics without the requirement to pass the five academic course minimum currently imposed on public school students. Eventually, the debate boiled down to fairness, with opponents arguing that homeschool participation would be unfair to public school students. However, figures brought up — ironically — by a Virginia High School League lobbyist revealed that only 2 percent of high school students in Virginia are home schooled. Because of the small number, the impact on athletic teams would be minimal (as both sides stated), while the impact on educational freedom would be immense.

However, the negative vote does not have to be the end of HB 926. If HB 926 is brought up at the next House Education Committee meeting on Wednesday (the last meeting prior to the "crossover" deadline) by any member who voted on the prevailing side (in this case, anyone who voted "no," see here), another vote can be taken. With such a slim margin of defeat last time, the outcome could very well be different.

Contact members of the House Education Committee who voted not and ask them to bring HB 926 back for reconsideration, and to vote to report it to the full House floor.