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HB 1040: Sue Peterson Back to Lighten Opportunity Scholarship Requirements for Homeschoolers

Rep. Sue Peterson (R-13/Sioux Falls) goes to House Education this morning to push again for a favor for homeschool students. House Bill 1040 would lower the ACT score homeschoolers need to qualify for the Opportunity Scholarship from 28 to 24, if they have completed the same high school curriculum required of regular school applicants. Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed a similar bill (2018 SB 94) last year, saying that such a requirement actually holds homeschoolers to a lower standard than other scholarship applicants:

Today all students, including those who are home-schooled, are eligible to receive the Opportunity Scholarship by receiving a minimum ACT score of 28 or SAT score of 1250.

Another path to receiving the scholarship requires students to complete specific coursework and achieve a lower ACT score of 24. A required class offered by any accredited high school must meet minimum standards and the course materials for these classes may be reviewed at any time.

Under Senate Bill 94, classes completed by home-schooled students would not be subject to the same requirements because there is no accreditation requirement for home-school courses. To receive an Opportunity Scholarship, a student would only need to achieve the lower ACT score and produce a transcript of completed coursework issued by the parent or guardian. No one would have the ability to review course materials for these home-school classes as is the case for accredited schools [Gov. Dennis Daugaard, veto message on 2018 SB 94, 2018.03.23].

HB 1040 appears to include a time-machine clause that attempts to erase Governor Daugaard’s veto from our timeline. Section 2 would allow any homeschooler who would have qualified to receive the Opportunity Scholarship under the provisions of the bill Daugaard vetoed to apply for and receive a retroactive Opportunity Scholarship. In other words, HB 1040 spends money not previously appropriated, and Senate President Larry Rhoden should require a two-thirds vote. (In classic sneaky Republican fashion, Rep. Sue Peterson doesn’t include funding for her plan in this bill. Like Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, she wants to pretend that her conservative agenda won’t cost anything.)

The facts about lack of accreditation for home school courses haven’t changed, only the Governor, who is now a do-nothing Trumpist figurehead more reliant on the fundagelical base to cover up her weakness and thus more willing to overlook facts. Expect HB 1040 to clear House Education this morning at 7:45 a.m. with little difficulty.


  1. Donald Pay 2019-01-14 11:54

    It’s like a participation trophy. “Good Job!!!!” That scholarship program was supposed to indicate some merit. Now it’s like a white ribbon at the fair.

    I think I remember I got a 32, and didn’t get any scholarship. Standards have really declined. A 24 isn’t something to write home about. It’s a solid “B-“. The medium score is 21. That would be a “C.”

  2. Rorschach 2019-01-14 12:40

    This is the “I qualify because mama says so” bill.

  3. Debbo 2019-01-14 15:20

    SD isn’t the only state pestered by people who refuse to use the public schools but want to get their hands on public school money. This Sheila Kennedy post focuses on Indiana’s voucher program.

    “What [public school superintendent] Killion was too ‘politically correct’ to mention in his op-ed was that researchers have found no improvement in academic achievement by voucher students. (A couple of studies have found a decline, at least in math.) It has become quite clear that Indiana’s voucher program–the largest in the U.S.–is simply a way to take money from public education and give it to the religious schools that constitute over 90% of the schools accepting vouchers.”

    If you want public money, send your children to public schools.

  4. Jason 2019-01-14 16:56

    Here is an idea … free tuition for every human being. Education should be a human right. Instead we argue about who is “worthy” of an education. Our society is sick. We need a doctor but we cannot afford the cost of insurance …

  5. Porter Lansing 2019-01-14 17:29

    Jason went to Catholic school. It’s his people that want the money for their educational choice not public school parents. It’s his society that thinks we’re sick. We’re fine. Send your complaints to the Bishop.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-14 19:27

    Ror, how dare you question the integrity and moral superiority of Christian homeschoolers. They are clearly superior to all of us heathens and should not be held to the same standards as kids attending our failing public schools.

    Whoops—sorry! I’ve been channeling a lot of conservative brain waves lately.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-14 19:28

    Free public university and vo-tech tuition for all qualified students is a great idea, but it would not solve the wrangling about the standards to set for students whose families choose to send them to non-accredited educational settings.

  8. grudznick 2019-01-14 19:47

    Wouldn’t it be neato if Mr. H was in the legislatures to debate with ilk like Ms. Peterson on these issues? We need people to figure out how to fund free education at universities for everybody. I bet Mr. H could squeeze that juice from the turnip because he’d want to. Mr. Novstrup knows where all the money is but he’s not saying.

    Say “NO” to the homeschoolers. Get your kid in school and learn from real teachers and books, says grudzick.

  9. DLE 2019-03-22 23:04

    Wow. I’m really shocked by some of the vitriol directed toward homeschooling families. In the last 10 years, my husband and I have paid over $15,000 to the state for public education, but we’ve actually educated our three kids on our own dime (several thousand more dollars), thus saving the state of SD money. It’s not “public money” that just appeared out of thin air; it’s money that taxpayers, of which I am one, have paid. I do believe public education is a benefit to the whole society and should be supported, but it doesn’t fit every family and every child in every situation (consider health issues, bullying, military families, special needs). Parents should actually have the right to direct the education-designated property tax money they have paid toward whatever education system they want–whether that is public, private, charter, or homeschool–while their children are school age. Then their education-designated tax money should just go back into the public coffers.

    The objection that you can’t verify that a homeschool curriculum is up to the “standard” of public school is ridiculous. Everyone knows that you can have some teachers who are tough and some who are easy; that some schools provide a better education even if they are using the same books as another school. Yes, there are variations in rigor for home-taught classes … as there are in all schools, thus the ACT score for verification. If a parent isn’t teaching their kid anything, it’s not likely the child will score that well. Automatically assuming that a homeschool curriculum isn’t legitimate is insulting to thousands of South Dakota parents.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-23 20:57

    Automatically assuming that the curriculum is elgitimate is insulting to everyone else who goes through the far more scrutinized curricula of the public schools.

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