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She Fought The Law and Tebow Won

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Many of you have followed his homeschooling career and have heard his mom, Pam, speak at the HERI Conference in Jacksonville. To that end, many of you have asked about the ESPN special which aired and detailed their family’s use of the Craig Dickinson Act and how it allowed Tim to play high school sports

Please find below the information on how to order a copy of the ESPN video. Also, we have attached an article from the Jacksonville Times Union which gives some history about what was entailed in earning homeschoolers the right to participate in extra-curricular activities.

Originally created Sunday, January 1, 2006

She fought the law, and Tebow won

Without Dickinson Act, record-setting QB never would have played football at Nease. By CHASE GOODBREAD, The Times-Union

Brenda Dickinson didn’t rush for a single yard for the Nease football team on its way to a Class 4A state championship, and didn’t complete one pass. But when the Panthers pass out accolades for the greatest football season in school history, they ought to send a thank-you card her way. Without her, Tim Tebow might not have rushed or passed for any yards. In 1996, Dickinson won a two-year battle in the Florida legislature that allowed home-schooled students to participate in extracurricular activities at public high schools, including athletics. Tebow, the Times-Union’s 2005 Super 24 Player of the Year, is the last of five Tebow children to be home-schooled and competed at Nease under the Craig Dickinson Act, named for Dickinson’s late husband.There is nothing close to a uniform policy nationwide, however, as many states don’t allow home-schooled students the same chance. And even in Florida, where the law has been established for nearly a decade, there remains no shortage of opposition to it.”There was a lot of resentment [in the Florida High School Athletic Association] for the whole idea when we were trying to get it passed,” Dickinson said. “And I think to some extent, there still is. Their stance was that home-schoolers had no right to take a [roster] spot from public school students that had, as they called it, paid their dues. We argued that the FHSAA basically had monopolized athletics to the exclusion of children that were being lawfully schooled at home. If the school system is truly public, those children have every right to benefit from after-school clubs, sports, the marching band or anything else that’s offered.”Private schools can choose to not offer extracurricular activities to home-schooled children, but may engage in agreements to do so. Tebow, in fact, played at Trinity Christian, a Westside private school, while being home-schooled in 2002-03 before transferring to Nease for the next three years.In breaking several state passing records at Nease, Tebow’s high-profile athletic career has drawn attention to the home-school rule, but the University of Florida signee is far from alone. A recent ESPN report on home-schooling cited estimates of 1.5 million home-schooled children nationally, and in states where laws allow, many participate in athletics.A key element to Dickinson’s stance on extracurricular activities is that home-schooling parents support public schools with their tax dollars, and therefore have a right to benefit from elements of the school system while maintaining the right to educate from the home.”I think we have a right to use a part of the school,” said Bob Tebow, Tim’s father. “And a high school coach doesn’t have to take a home-schooled athlete: He only has to give that kid a chance. He can cut them like anyone else. … If a 55-year-old taxpayer with no kids wants to check out a book at a public school library, he should be allowed to do that.”That logic hasn’t flown everywhere.In July, the West Virginia Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that had ordered school officials to permit athletic participation to home-schooled children. In writing the majority opinion, Justice Robin Jean Davis noted: “The parents of home-schooled children have voluntarily chosen not to participate in the free public school system in order to educate their children at home. In making this choice, these parents have also chosen to forego the privileges incidental to a public education, one of which is … interscholastic athletics.”

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