Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Homeschoolers and tax credits

Homeschoolers in South Carolina are divided (not necessarily equally) on whether to allow tax credits for school choice. The bill is dubbed "Put Parents in Charge" by supporters. The relevant part to homeschoolers is articulated this way'

One constituency that will be heavily represented on both sides is home schoolers, who also would qualify for tax credits under the plan, dubbed Put Parents in Charge by its supporters.

The families of some 14,000 home-schooled children in South Carolina are split on the bill because some fear it would invite increased state regulation. Ann Ashley, director of New Beginnings Home School Association in Summerville, and other home-school families fought to gain autonomy from state regulations in the mid-1990s. Any erosion of that freedom is unacceptable, she said. “By accepting money, it allows the state to come into our homes to determine what we can and can’t teach,” Ashley said.

Kathleen Carper, president of the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools, said Ashley and other opponents of the bill are “misinformed.” Carper, whose group represents 1,200 families from around the state, said the bill is crafted so it wouldn’t intrude on what parents teach.

This is an interesting case to watch. I can see both sides. The money would be nice but what is the guarantee there would be no intrusive gestures in the future. In the final analysis, I proabably side with Ann Ashley. That is, when the government extends one hand in generosity the other hand is ready with a noose for my neck.

But philosphically I have a different thought. Why do we tolerate the government taking our money in the form of taxes and then giving it back to us in the form of a tax credit for the education of our children? We don't tolerate this in any other vital area of our lives.

For example, we all must eat. But how long would any of us tolerate the government taking a sum of money from us (based on property value) and then returning to us a smaller portion (ie. tax credit) to pay for food? My guess is not very long. Especially, if they also told us which stores we must buy our food and no "home fooding" allowed. The argument can be made that this is done for the "common good" but isn't eating more important than education? The idea of a Cabinet post for the Department of Food is ludicrous.

We tolerate it because when it comes to education we are inherently a people of convenience. It is easier to pay someone else to educate our children. The tax credit gives the false notion that we really have a say in what they are learning.

"Putting Parents in Charge" is an interesting title for a bill that really does just the opposite. It keeps the state in charge and the parents pacified with the false reality that they are in control.



EdWonk said...

We've linked this post over at The Carnival Of Education: Week 2 It may be seen here:


Katie said...

Great point. And for the homeschoolers worried about government interference, there's a simple solution: don't accept the tax credit! Presumably, they're worried about the government attaching all sorts of strings to the credit, but if they don't accept the money, they won't get the strings either.