A Solution Within Reach
In South Carolina, new legislation is currently being considered which, while not perfect, would greatly help the situation of homeschoolers in that state. HSLDA’s federal suit helped pave the way for this new legislation, along with the faithful efforts of many local homeschoolers who have been active in monitoring the progress of the bill and suggesting changes and improvements. Although the bill has a few problems, it is likely to be the best that could be achieved given the political situation in South Carolina.
The bill contains “approval” language, but no discretion is left to the local school officials. Therefore, if the proper criteria are met, the homeschool “shall be approved.” The legislation calls for parents to have only a high school diploma or GED (attempts to require a bachelor’ degree were defeated), and sets guides for curriculum, hours and days of instruction, and means of evaluation. Semi-annual progress reports are required, and homeschoolers must participate in the state’s standardized testing program. Testing may be done at home, but must be done by a certified teacher. Parents must appear before their school board to present their plan of instruction for approval, but this approval is not discretionary and must be granted if parents meet the requirements set out in the law.
The bill passed the House and Senate once, and all of the amendments which would have caused problems were successfully defeated. The bill is now in joint conference committee to work out differences between the two houses’ versions. One remaining amendment would require parents to take a test designed for college juniors majoring in education. This amendment, even if it passes, however, may be stricken down because it violates South Carolina Department of Education policy, as well as the policy of the test developers (Educational Testing Service—ETS). ETS has sent a representative to South Carolina to explain that the test in question has not been validated for use on any persons other than those for whom it was designed, and in order to verify the test for use on homeschooling parents, it would require a great deal of time and money.
The latest news HSLDA has received at the time of this printing is that the conference committee will recommend that the parent testing amendment remain. The committee’s compromise version states that parents with a college degree would not have to take the test. Also the testing provision would take effect in the 1989–90 school year only if the test is validated for use on homeschooling parents.