A couple of interesting articles from South Dakota and Maine floated across the homeschooling news radar. One was a private citizen’s opinion and the other involved public servants’ opinion translated into a bill.
South Dakota Representative Don Kopp and 29 other sponsors have a prospect [HB 1173] for private school families. It will be heard in the House Taxation Committee.
Private-school rebate proposed | The Argus Leader By Josh Verges
House Bill 1173 proposes property tax rebates to offset the cost of private school tuition or home-school materials and resources. The benefit would be capped at 80 percent of the per-student allocation — around $3,700 next year per child — so most qualifying families would end up paying no property taxes to public education.
Oddly, the article (and a companion poll about the issue) includes the strong suggestion homeschoolers are involved with pursuit of this bill. But towards the end of the article, this important point is (finally) noted:
Kopp said the bill initially would have included home-school parents, but their association no longer wants to be included. They worry that if the government gives them financial support, the state or school boards will take on a stronger regulatory role.
Larry and Susan Kaseman wrote a 2011 Taking Charge article: Tell Legislators “No Thanks to Tax Credits”
Homeschoolers have managed to keep state regulation to a minimum by using arguments such as the following:
• Private schools, including homeschools, do not receive tax dollars. Therefore, although the government can use tax dollars as a basis for setting standards and requirements for public schools and holding them accountable, a similar case cannot be made for government regulation of private schools, including homeschools, that do not accept tax dollars.
• State statutes require compulsory school attendance, not compulsory education. Therefore, homeschoolers should not be required to prove that they are being educated.
• Millions of homeschool graduates have successfully entered conventional schools, college, and the work force.
If we accept tax credits, we would be giving up the first of these arguments, which is one of the best ones we have.
Property tax rebates are also tricky if private school families are renting. There’s always the consideration towards empty nesters and those with no children who would not be in the game. The South Dakota Governor opposes it, as do public school advocacy groups. I think I agree with the Sioux Falls Catholic School System Superintendent the “devil’s always in the details.” It usually is, especially in this current state and federal legislative climate.
Across the country, a Maine resident offered a Morning Sentinel letter to the editor suggesting Save money; pay parents to home-school children
I think it would be plausible to pay parents to home-school their children. Why not pay a parent $9,000 per year to home-school a student? And then perhaps $4,500 for each additional child, with some type of limit to keep things realistic.
So parents with three children could educate them for $18,000 instead of $37,000. On a larger scale, if 19,000 students (about 10 percent) were home-schooled and 25 percent of those were “additional children,” the cost would be about $150 million.
When compared to about $240 million as the current cost, we can see that the aforementioned 10 percent shift of students creates roughly $90 million in savings.
My homeschooling friends and I have often dreamed of having the same amount of public school money calculated as per pupil funding. (I don’t imagine the amazing administrative costs and other trickeries feel like a learning opportunity to the child, but that’s a bit off-topic.) What could we do with $10,000? The travel, art and dance classes, the zoo, museum memberships – what a whopper life that would be! But it’s just a dream and not anything homeschoolers I know are pushing.
Because there’s always this important string following the generosity displayed by the letter writer’s suggestion. “Reasonable” is a relative term and there would be a strong possibility all that money will be tied together in a stack of burdens:
Due to the state’s vested interest, I think the students should be able to pass reasonable tests given by the state.
There must be some way to verify kids are learning something.
Homeschoolers measure their children’s educational progress in many different and efficient ways. Those methods are backed up with love and concern, not mindless paperwork or tests that stress young (and older) minds. That result has been so important many homeschoolers put aside financial temptations.