Senator Harry Blevins Kills “Tebow Bill”

Republican Chesepeake Senator Harry Blevins killed the so called “Tebow Bill” in the Senate Education and Health committee. This is yet another instance of conservative legislation being killed at the behest of a Republican.

Opposition to this bill came from several sectors. Some homeschool activists have naturally been concerned that allowing access to public school sports will create a situation where homeschoolers are opened to more government regulation. While some public school coaches and officials opposed this bill on a basis that is far less clear. There were arguements that homeschool kids could not be held to account in regards to their grades and standards, but that is not true, there are many homeschooled children who are capable of producing a transcript and often that transcript is attached to curriculum that is more rigorous academically than public school curriculum. The schools could still have held homeschooled students accountable in regards to academic standards, there are ways to do this. There were probably some parents who were upset because Johnny Homeschooler would beat out Billy Public Schooler for the team…which is just silly. Shouldn’t we encourage our children to exercise their skills and talents regardless of where they go to school? Why should the government intervene to keep some kids off the team so that others will have an advantage…for those parents for whom this was a main reason in opposing this bill, they should be ashamed of themselves.

All of these arguments aside, there is a simple reason why this bill should have been passed, and that is the fact that the parents of homeschoolers pay taxes just like everybody else and as such should have access to tax payer funded facilities. If the high school coaches and other school officials are so adverse to letting in these pesky homeschool kids then maybe they should advocate for the privatization of all public school sports. But until they do that, their arguement is dead in the water.

However, thanks to Senator Blevins this bill is also now dead in the water.

  • Jerry Zeigler

    Well said. I would add that the reason that for a gpa requirement for school sports is to ensure taxpayer funds directed towards education aren’t being wasted. In the case of homeschoolers this is not a factor.

  • MD Russ

    I am with you on this one, Steven. The opposition to the Tebow Bill was a pure and cowardly objection to the threat that home schooled children pose to the failed public schools–that parents can actually provide a superior education than so-called professional educators. Public school teachers and administrators want to keep home schooled students out of sight because they habitually out-perform public school students in standardized tests and college admissions. Admitting them to their sports programs and other extracurricular activities would have created a group of poster children for the failure of our public schools.

  • Tom Dykers

    What reason did Senator Blevins give for his vote?

  • Ann Flan Kirwin

    Blevins was a public high school principal. My guess is that perspective has something to do with his vote.

  • T. Gregory Muttonchop

    For those of you keeping score, Harry Blevins single handedly killed (pun intended) the pain-capable 20 week abortion ban, the Tebow Bill and also voted against the Eminent Domain law. Is there anything I am missing here?

  • Mormor

    If parents choose to educate their children at home, they also choose not to be part of public schools. Public schools have extracurricular activities which are there for the public school students.

    Let home-schoolers form their own clubs and teams.
    The kids might suffer but, what the heck, let the parents explain the situation.

  • KevinL

    So, should students who attend private schools also be allowed to participate in VHSL sanctioned activities for their local high school? Since their parents also pay taxes, I don’t see why home schooled students should get this opportunity but private schooled students should not. Should home schooled students be allowed to eat lunch at the local school cafeteria or use the science labs? That would be more central to education than VHSL activities. Should I be able to go to the local Virginia State Police barracks and ask to use the “taxpayer funded facility” known as the squad car since I’m a Virginia tax payer?

  • MD Russ


    Straw man alert. No, State Police cars are not intended for the general public, any more than Air Force F-16’s are. If you want to operate one, sign up and get qualified. On the other hand, public schools are intended for the public, just like public libraries. Do home schooled children not have a right to use public libraries?

  • ToR


    Do you have any shred of evidence of “There were probably some parents who were upset because Johnny Homeschooler would beat out Billy Public Schooler for the team…which is just silly.”? My guess is that you’ve completely fabricated this idea. Sure, there might be some person, some where, it’s probably the same person who is committing all the voter fraud.

    Actually Mormor and Kevin make a good point: should private school kids be allowed on sports teams in addition to home schoolers? I’m not sure how you could justify one but not the other. If they’ve chosen not to be a part of the public school system they’ve chosen not to be a part of the public school system.

  • tOr

    you are so silly.

  • William Bailey

    You all do know that Senatr Blevins was elected to represent “ALL” of the citizens in his district don’t you? FYI: They are not all repubs, conservative or pro-home school.

    Just incase, you all forgot there are other views besides yours…

  • KevinL

    Public schools, and their facilities and student organizations, are also not intended for use by the general public. Their utilization is limited to bona fide students who are enrolled in the school, just like use of state police cars is limited to bona fide employees. Public libraries, by contrast, are open for use by all members of the general public.

  • Let’s Be Free

    Republicans suck.

  • MD Russ


    How thought-provoking. Did you think of that all by yourself or read it Smurf Virginia?

  • Steve Vaughan

    Did the bill require the homeschoolers to attend the school they would normally be districted for? Otherwise I can see the evils of college recruiting seeping into high school sports. If a future Tim Tebow was being homeschooler in Chesterfield County, you can bet all the county coaches would want to presuade him to go to their school.
    The other thing is that there’s more to playing high school sports than showing up for practices and games. There’s wearing the game day jerseys in the hall, pep rallies, hating your school’s traditional rival (damn, Midlothian rednecks) …not sure how homeschoolers get all that. They miss the entirity of the experience.
    The public schools are not a buffet, you don’t get to choose what you want. If you’re not all in, you’re out.

  • Jay Hughes

    I’m with Steve on this one. Athletics is more than just being on the team. It’s about school spirit. Even if you don’t play on the football team you can get involved by attending pep rallies, playing in the band or just showing up for games, etc. If you’re a homeschooler that rolls in just for practice and games, you’re not fully participating in the concept.

    Choices have consequences. If you want your kids to be homeschooled that’s your call, but one of the consequences is you need to find alternative athletic opportunites for your kids.

  • MD Russ

    William Bailey,

    Can you honestly say that Don McEachin represents “ALL” the residents of his district or just the liberal Democrats? Blevin’s motivation here is quite clear: he is a former high school principal and present apologist for our failed public schools. Can you imagine what is would be like for a principal to have to explain to his superintendent and school board why the two or three senior football players with the highest SAT scores were all home schooled?

    BTW, bringing in private school student into this discussion only serves to obfuscate the issue. Private schools have their own sports programs and compete in private school leagues.

  • Mike Barrett

    Failed public schools? What baloney. Anyone who thinks that has not directly interacted with the students in our public school system. In my Rotary Club, we honor the best and brightest in our system with the Brickell Scholarship, and as part of this process, we sponsor a series of workshops on important issues. No one who has had this opportunity to interact with our students could go away from these sessions without an appreciation of the intellectual depth and maturity of these students.

    Yes, they are the cream of the crop, but there are thousands like them in the V.B. School system. Those who denigrate the public shools usually have an ax to grind; that is, they want lower taxes, or they want aid to private schools, or now tax credits for contributions.

    Frankly, this GA has started a process many of them hope will end in corporate control of education. This trend must be stopped. Their attempts to cast this as aid for disadvantaged students is a calculated attempt to take resources from the public school system; later, the schools will be run for profit. No thanks.

  • MD Russ


    I am afraid that you are the one who is spouting baloney. Your anecdotal stories about VB isn’t validated by studies and responsible news reports from all over the country. And this is nothing new. People who denigrate the public schools most definitely have an ax to grind: our schools are not getting the job done and haven’t been for several decades now. We are sick of watching our tax money go down the toilet with no return or benefit. Those who support public schools believe in the greatest common denominator in education and teacher tenure regardless of performance so that they will accept lower salaries. Here is a few examples of well-documented failures from such ‘right-wing’ sources such as NPR, the Chicago Tribune, and the New York Times.

  • bw

    Why is Blevins being singled out as the one who killed the bill? The vote was 8-7 so it was more than just him that killed it. Paying taxes does not entitle a person to access to everything that those taxes may pay for. I cannot go sit in the mayor’s chair, take a fire engine for a spin around the block or go play basketball during the day at any public school in my city even though my taxes pay for those things.

  • Mike Barrett

    Well MD Russ, I was speaking about Virginia Beach public schools from which my children graduated and have gone on to successful and productive careers. But I guess you don’t believe in anecdotal evidence.

    I am not saying that every public school is perfect, nor that improvements in many are not required. I do know that a right wing conservative principle in the last few decades, created and enforced by Grover Norquist, has been to starve the beast; that is, deny public entitites of the resources they need to do their job effectively, and then dismantle these “non performers” and sell the cash flow to the private sector.

    No wonder some schools don’t perform; they have been robbed of resources. In Virginia, for the first time, we have provided a tax credit for corporations to donate to private education, thereby robbing public schools of these resources, and the General Assembly now funds our local schools at amounts less than they did in 2007.

    The pattern is as clear in education as it has been in transportation; starve the entity of resources, criticize it for poor performance, advocate for a private solution, transfer public resoureces to private corporations so they can make a profit on the enterprise. Does the downtown/midtown tunnel ring a bell?

    Frankly, no thanks, and experience shows that this is no solution at all for the public and just provides more revenue to the rich corporate international conglomerates and their investors. Try getting them to respond to a complaint.

  • MD Russ

    Well, Mike, I am thrilled that your children went on to successful and productive careers, considering the handicap that they had to overcome by attending VB public schools. Instead of anecdotal evidence, how about some quantitative evidence? According to, no public high school in VB is rated higher than 7 on a scale of 10 and two are rated 4 on a scale of 10. Compare that with the private high school ratings in VB.

    You know what really sucks about that profit motivation you find in “rich corporate international conglomerates?” They only get rich by providing tangible high performance.

  • Mike Barrett

    You know MD Russ, if that were the case, my opinion would be different. But frankly, Corporatists simply want the cash flow, and services don’t improve at all. Also, once they capture the cash flow, they use part of it to maintain their chosen position to the detriment of the public.

    Case in point, we could have constructed the improvements to the midtown/downtown tunnel just as inexpensively as the contractor could, and not had to pay outrageous tolls for the next 55 years. But true to republican form; they starved the beast (VDOT and the Trust Fund), then claimed there was no money, so all new projects will now be done by concessions run by international conglomerates whose investors will make returns we can’t make on our investments.

    This outrage would be a crime if our citizens would wake up and realize what it happening in Richmond. Already IT maintenance and repair was sold to the private sector, service stinks and is getting worse; then this transportation debacle, now moves to fund private education, we see where this is moving, and it is toward the wealth of Corporatists at our expense.

  • Mark Cernak

    Home schoolers get shaft again this time by “one” Republican Senator from Chesapeake, VA does them in. The 8-7 committee vote was largely along party lines(7 Democrats “1” Republican), with Sen. Harry B. Blevins, Virginia Beach Republican and a former teacher, voting with seven Democrats against the legislation. Again Senator Blevins votes with the Democrats! Quite oblivious that he is owned by the educational establishment! And republicans wonder why the voters are not impressed by the establishment politicans! I thought that the Republicnas had certain policies that they were suppose to belive in and fight for! But since the party will not or does not have the backbone to police these RINOS the Party keeps getting the RINOS! And the Country keeps going downhill and I hate to say it but another 4 years of OBAMA. And you can thank gentlemen like Senator Blevins and Party Chairman who allow the RINOS to control the Republican Party. This is the exact reason I say do not let anyone from the Educational Establishment on school boards, city council, general assembly, etc.. They will just protect the status quo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • MD Russ

    Always one to change the subject when the facts don’t support your argument, aren’t you Mike? I thought that we were discussing public schools and not tunnels and IT?

    You disputed my assertion that our public schools are failing. I called you on it and you can’t refute my facts. End of story.

  • Mike Barrett

    Yes, I did refute your assertion. I have direct experience that your assertion is false.

    But some school systems are failing as republicans force more and more cuts. Most elected republican officials have signed the Grover Norquist no tax pledge, which puts into effect Norquist’s famous dictum that the role of an elected offical is to cut the arms and legs off government so it can be drowned in a bathtub.

    When you believe this malarky, and you act on it, you declare war on the institutions that have produced the most productive nation in the history of mankind. For such a pledge requires the dismantling of public schools, transportation systems, public safety, human services that are required for the health of the elderly and the young alike.

    Elected officials that have signed the pledge, and that includes about 95% of the republicans in the House of Representatives and the same in the House of Delegates, now owe their allegiance to Norquist, not to us, the citizens and voters who put them in office. Their failure to serve our interest, and instead, to serve Norquist’s interest, is the reason the republican party will suffer defeat again and again going forward.

  • MD Russ


    You are a piece of work. I don’t know about VB, but the school budget in Fairfax County was increasing exponentially every year for the past 20 years (and property taxes with it) until the housing market crashed in 2008. We have had a Democratic majority BOS in Fairfax County for years. When the budget cuts hit in the last three years, it wasn’t the Republicans “starving the beast.” It was the end of the go-go gravy train in real estate values that the Democrats were taxing the bejesus out of to spend on schools. And yet, for some strange reason, our test scores and graduation rates were falling nonetheless.

    Go find another boogeyman to explain our failing schools. Grover Norquist tax pledges as an excuse is a dog that just won’t hunt.

  • Peter Langlands

    I am in favor of homeschoolers playing sports. his reminds me of bullying.

  • Good gosh, another post deleted.

    What was wrong with this last one? Let’s see, I told Steve Vaughan that he made a good point about the home schooled child should only be allowed to play on the team he would be on if he went to public school and continued on to voice my support for the Tebow bill.

    I guess it must be personal. Somebody with the power of the delete button just does not like me or something.

  • I am going to go into this a little deeper on the comment that was deleted.

    The home schooling parent pays 100% of the same taxes as the parent who’s kids go to public school. Some people claim they must be all in or all out. I’m saying it should not be so. Parents who are paying their taxes should have more on the smorgasbord then just sports. If their kids get into high school, and their child has an interest in a class offered in the public school the parent thinks they could benefit from, they should be able to sign their kid up for that class while continuing home schooling on the rest.

    Yeah, the taxpayer should have the ability to pick and choose. Just because the taxpayer does not choose to attend the ballgames at the taxpayer supported ballpark does not mean they should be prevented from entering the taxpayer supported state park.

    Now, debate me if you want to, but it is hard for me to engage in debate if you delete my comments.

  • Mike Barrett

    I believe that it is our obligation as citizens to provide the best local schools we can within our means. No function of local government is more important. That said, if families opt out of that system, and chose to educate their children themselves, that is their choice. We have no obligation to assist these families at all.

    Just as we have seen in transportation, the republican corporatists are moving inexorably toward dismantling the functions of government so they can be turned over to the private sector. This is their plan. Knowing that they can’t do this in one fell swope, they are taking small steps, year by year, but have no doubt; the republicans will starve education of resources until they can vote to turn this function over to the private sector.

    My advice to Senate republicans; if Blevins won’t vote for another of your zany proposals, listen to him.

  • MD Russ


    I can’t speak for the Bearing Drifters, but I promise you that if they don’t delete Mike Barrett’s rants then they wouldn’t delete you.

    Try this: I have occasionally posted a comment and then gone back to the front page without hitting the “Submit” button. Could that be the problem?

  • MD,

    Nope, that’s not the problem. I hit submit, saw it show up as a comment and even listed on the right under most recent comments. Come back a day later and it is gone.

  • Mike Barrett,

    Your argument would make more sense if you were arguing against vouchers. We’re not talking vouchers here, we’re talking about home schooling parents being able to realize some benefit from the system their tax dollars supports if they choose.

    It is my understanding that Virginia Beach already does something like this (allow home schooled kids to participate on public school teams) along with some requirements for academic testing before participation. This bill would probably not require my school district to do anything other then what it already does, it would only require other districts to do so as well.

  • Mark Cernak

    It’s not like the home schoolers cost the school districts a dime as matter of fact school districts retain money when students are home schooled and/or attend public school. A report entitled “The Fiscal Effects of School Choice Programs on Public School Districts,” found that 36 percent of public school expenses are “fixed” costs while 64 percent are “variable” costs over a one year period. If students leave the school district still retains the fixed costs so they come out ahead. In know it’s not about dollars it political!

  • Mike Barrett

    Again Mark, from my point of perspective, public education is a basic and fundamental function of government, like public safety, transportation, and justice. As such, we are obligated to provide to our citizens the best system of public education within our means, but no citizen is obligated to use this system if they don’t want to do so.

    Private education, or home schooling, fine, that is their choice, but don’t ask the public to pay for that choice. The recent legislation to provide tax credits to corporations that donate to fund private education is the proverbial camels nose under the tent.

    Republicans as corporatists have a plan; to take public resources and cede them to private interests for the benefit of their investors. The basic tenet of this plan is obvious in McDonnell’s sale of concessions for transportation, republicans in congress who have required the USPS to advance fund retirement benefits, thereby requiring its bankruptcy, in the legislation in the general assembly to allow the tax breaks, and their failure to fund their statutory requirements in regard to public safety, transoortation, and K-12 education.

    Republicans sign no tax pledges, they starve the beast,then they say government can’t perform, then they sell basic functions to their corporatist friends who will make millions and provide little service.

  • There is nothing distinctively “conservative” about the Tebow bill. (There is nothing distinctively “liberal” or “libertarian” about it either, for that matter.)

    The Tebow bill represents one special interest group — home schoolers, and not even all of them — seeking to obtain something (permission to play on sports teams) from another special interest group — the government school establishment. The arguments from both sides are not based on ideology or political philosophy, but on practical considerations that meet the needs and desires of whichever side is doing the arguing.

    That some conservatives favored the Tebow bill does not make it any more conservative than if they favored any other program that extends the reach and scope of government.

  • Mark Cernak

    The vote by Senator Blevins was nothing but pay back for the money that Virginia Education Assocation gave last october ($2,250),and all those donations last year by Chesapeake Public Schools retired, and those teachers. He is a retired teacher and he just protecting the education family. Wonder how the governor is feeling his pac (Opportunity VA PAC) gave Blevins $2500 last September but the educational establishment came first for Senator Blevings.

  • Rodmart

    I’ve noticed most of the comments seem centered around school districts in the larger metropolitan areas of the state, in most of these areas homeschoolers have there own leagues and most will not care to try out for the “Highschool Team”. In the western end of the state however population is less dense even in the metro areas there are not enough homeschoolers to have their own teams, basketball maybe, baseball no, football NO WAY. In some of these areas the local highschool has trouble fielding enough players to have teams, they’d love to pick up a few homeschoolers, but the VHSL won’t allow it. the Tebow bill would still have allowed the school system to choose to allow it or not , it was just to limit the VHSL.

  • William Bailey

    Mark: You really believe a Senator can be bought for $2,250? Seriously, I’m going to buy three in the morning if that is true…

  • Mike Barrett,

    I understand and am pretty much in agreement with you on the issue of tolls for our highways and particularly paying for new highways with 3P (Public Private Partnerships).

    However speaking of one truth to prove another does not always work with me. If we carry your argument further, those who ride bicycles on the public roads should pay the fuel tax even it they are not consuming fuel. Once they commit to the bicycle, they should never be allowed to switch back to fossil fueled transportation.

    By they way, just yesterday I noticed something new. I saw an HRTA (Hampton Roads Transportation Authority) bus with a bicycle rack attached to the front of the bus. There were bicycles in the rack! I think this idea is brilliant. That is up until more people climb aboard and there is not enough room for all the bicycles in the rack. We can’t extend the rack 15 feet out from the front of the bus now, can we?

  • Mike Barrett

    I think the racks hold up to four bicycles, and will be a natural adjunct to light rail when it comes to the Beach. At first, the light rail will run east west with connecting busses north and south. People in neighborhoods can walk or ride the connecting bus to the light rail station.

    The end of suburbanization has already changed thinking, and since we will have to increasingly accommodate new growth within existing developed areas, coordinated public transit will supplement the ever present passener vehicle.

    In the long run, we will need a better system to finance infrastructure; in the short term, raise the gas to the same level of buying power since in 1986, and index it to inflation going forward. That will help greatly.

  • Mark Cernak

    William, if you read what I said ($2,250),and all those donations last year by Chesapeake Public Schools retired, and those teachers . There was much more than $2,250 donated and all where from the same mineset check it out its facts you know those things that get in the way of rehortic. Read and understand before you comment would be benefical.

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