School Choice Would Help Keep Money In The Pockets of Some Parents
By: Emily Pace
March 17, 2012
Measures to cut costs for families who choose to either homeschool or enroll their children in private school have failed repeatedly.
This year’s proposal, however, is gaining momentum.
Out-of-state groups in favor of school choice legislation are funding local campaigns, and the number of people that could benefit from the plan is growing.
The school choice bill gives parents more options, but it will cost tax payers $37 million.
Those in favor of the bill say it’s worth it.
“You are able to teach your child from your own world view and philosophy,” said Gale Farrier of the South Carolina Home Educators Association.
Homeschooling is a trend that is growing among families, according to Farrier.
Over the weekend, nearly 6,000 people attended a homeschooling convention in Spartanburg.
“What is happening is that people are realizing it is a viable option," said David Nunnery, who is in favor of school choice.
Nunnery has been teaching his four kids from home for the past four years and says he could use some financial help.
“If you get the opportunity to get some money back that is enormous. You have to buy books almost every single year,” adds Nunnery.
The school choice bill would give parents $2,000 state income tax deduction for homeschool expenses. It also allows a $4,000 tax deduction per child for private school tuition, and students who decide to attend a public school outside of the district they live in would be given a $1,000 deduction.
Opponents of the legislation say it’s not fair to give public money to private institutions or individuals.
“We should be doing things that are improving our public schools. It has been four years since most teachers have had pay raises,” said Roger Smith, executive director of the South Carolina Education Association.
Neither group really knows the future of the school choice bill. It's now up to lawmakers to choose.
The House Ways and Means Committee passed the bill 16-8 on March 6. The bill will now be voted on by the full House.
At least 16 other states and the District of Columbia have some form of school choice measure.