Sponsored by a group of 21 Republican lawmakers, the Senate Bill 933 is currently being considered in the state Senate Finance Committee. The one-page legislation defines “home school” as “a home, residence, or location where a parent or legal guardian teaches one or more children.”
If the bill is passed as is, starting with the 2022-2023 school year, parents or legal guardians who teach one or more school-aged children at home will be able to claim an income tax credit equal to the total cost of any home school association and curriculum fees, or up to $1,000, for each child attending a home school.
The bill also sets a $30 million cap for the total amount of tax credits that can be claimed by homeschooling parents. If the total amount of credits claimed by all qualifying parents in South Carolina exceeds that limit, the credits will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
The measure continues the Republican-led effort focusing on parental control over education. In May, Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order that ensures parents have the final say whether their children wear masks in public schools throughout the state. The order allows any parent or legal guardian to sign a form to opt their child out of mask requirements imposed by any public school official or public school district.
In November, a group of 36 Republican state representatives demanded that the South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) cut ties with the National School Boards Association (NSBA), which asked the federal law enforcement to help quell concerned parents at local school board meetings. Although the NSBA apologized for the inflammatory language used in that letter associating concerned parents actions with domestic terrorism, the South Carolina Republicans found the apology “insincere.”
“The reality is that parents and stakeholders are beyond frustrated being ignored and left out of decisions with their child. The NSBA is detached from reality and fails to recognize that Americans are angered by what is happening in our classrooms,” the Republicans said in their message to SCSBA Executive Director Scott Price, adding that they kept receiving calls from parents “tired of losing control over their child’s education.”
“The message needs to be sent immediately that South Carolina will not support organizations that are threatening, antagonizing, or acting un-American towards concerned parents,” the lawmakers wrote. The SCSBA ended up withdrawing from the national federation.
The homeschool tax credit bill also comes as South Carolina public schools experience a teacher shortage greater than at any point in the past two decades. According to an annual survey by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA), there were 1,060 teaching positions vacant in the state as of this October, marking the largest number of vacancies reported by districts since the survey was first conducted in 2001. The survey also found that departures have risen by 15.5 percent, as about 6,900 teachers from the previous school year did not return to a teaching position in the same district this year.