Friday, July 22, 2011

Why NOT tax credits for homeschoolers?

Just a thought:  I pay property taxes as expected.  And I have since I have owned (or had a mortgage on) a home.  That money helps to support public education.

Given that many persons are changing the way they educate their children, using charter schools, parochial schools, secular private schools, online schools and home-schools, why NOT give them, give us, the amount of money we would be contributing to public education...while we are educating our own?

I understand the argument that paying for education benefits the extent that it's successful and efficient.  But why shouldn't I be excused during the time my children are in primary and secondary schools?  It isn't as if my children are using the school's resources.  It's actually rather challenging for them to have access to any of it even now, when I pay taxes and home-school simultaneously.  A reality that seems a bit unjust, if you ask me.

So give parents who choose other types of alternate educational pathways a tax credit.  We aren't taking money away.  We're just moving it back home, or rather, back to the kids who will be using it.  The same way that we moved the kids out of the schools.

And just as the kids will enter the work force and public life, our tax dollars will flow right back when we're finished.

It seems a simple, fair and ethically reasonable concession to those who elect to educate their kids elsewhere...and in the process don't take up the time of public teachers, fill the chairs in public classrooms or use any of the assets of the public school in the first place.



  1. What if you're a childless couple (like us)? Wonder if we could get our share back?

  2. Because it has nothing to do with simplicity, fairness, or ethical concessions or with education of the societies children for that matter, and everything to do with money and power.

  3. My view is that tax credits should be used to drive a behavior which is desirable for public policy. Home ownership is good because it increases economic security, so there's the mortgage interest deduction. It's better for really poor people to work than be on welfare, so there's the earned income tax credit. (Whether these credits are effective is another question, but at least there's a link between the credit & a policy goal.) I don't see a public good in home schooling which would justify a credit. The benefits accrued are totally personal, and I worry that home schooling actually weakens public schools by removing some of the best students.

    Having said that, if you could make an argument that we should encourage more people to home school, I'd be open to it...

  4. Shadowfax, I appreciate your comment! I would have to disagree that home schooling is purely personal. In fact, home-schooled kids have high rates of college acceptance and are being actively pursued by colleges because they have discipline, focus, good social skills and tend to be pretty public minded. That is, they have often been engaged in volunteerism, church activities, etc. from a young age. Also, they seldom exhibit the behavior issues that come from public 'socialization,' though that is probably as much a parenting issue as anything.
    They are also very tuned-in to family and the value of it. All of these seem to be things which, in the end, benefit the nation at large. As for taking better students out of the public setting, is it any different from letting excellent students choose private rather than public universities? Furthermore, is it the duty of those children, or those families, to attend public schools when we all know that public schools are doing a poor job in many areas? Having home schooled our four children for years, we feel we are generating valuable future citizens, parents and leaders. And for that reason, I believe it is a public good. (Also gives lots more time for families to be together, a thing also desirable.)

    Thanks again!