The South Dakota Legislature doesn't want to cough up the money to adequately fund K-12 education... but they balk even more at giving scholarships to kids who seek alternatives the public school system. The Senate Education Committee today approved HB 1160, to extend the state's Opportunity Scholarship to qualified home schoolers and other students in alternative settings. However, they increased the qualifying ACT score from 26 to 28.
Remember: students normally need only a 24 on the ACT to qualify for the Opportunity Scholarship. I think I heard Russ Olson brag once that he probably couldn't have qualified by that standard... but he voted to make home schoolers score 4 points higher than their public school counterparts to receive the same scholarship to keep their talents here in South Dakota. I think Russ may just be envious.
Or consider it this way: a public school student has to score in the top 25% of ACT test-takers to get this scholarship. Home school students would have to score in the top 8%.
Senator Olson and his colleagues are saying a homeschooler in the 90th percentile isn't worth trying to keep in South Dakota, but another student in the 75th percentile is... just because that lower-achieving student sat in a desk longer.
I'm starting to feel a little underappreciated for the effort we're going to put into homeschooling our little one. It sounds as if a lot of our legislators just don't believe their own rhetoric about supporting alternatives to public school or school choice in general.
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