Virginia 'Tebow bill' passes committee

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A bill that would allow home-schooled students to play for public school sports teams has cleared a legislative hurdle.

The House Education Committee voted 14-8 Wednesday to approve the so-called "Tebow bill." It's named after Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who was home schooled in Florida but played for a public high school team.

Scores of home-schooled children and their parents packed a small, cramped committee room and argued that they are taxpayers and deserve a chance to have their moment under the Friday night lights of interscholastic sports.

However, public school administrators, teachers and PTA advocates said it creates an unfair playing field for children who stay home all day to compete for positions on teams with students who sat through at least five classes each day.

Virginia would join at least 15 other states that allow home-schoolers to play interscholastic sports at public schools in their communities, according a state-by-state summary from the Home School Legal Defense Association.

Thirteen states give home-schooled children conditional or partial opportunities for extracurricular involvement at public schools.

Scores of home-schooled children and their parents who packed a small, cramped room whooped loudly as the committee advanced the bill to the House floor.

Republican hold two-thirds of the seats and are poised to enact the bill as part of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's education package.

Prospects are less certain in the Senate, where Republicans control half of the 40 seats.

Among those who testified for the bill was Patrick Foss, a 17-year-old home-schooled junior from South Riding, Va.

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