Between the mid-1970s and 2002 the number of home-schooled children in the United States grew from approximately fifteen thousand to more than one million. The number of home-schooled students in South Carolina also increased rapidly during this time, from a handful to as many as ten thousand as parents sought alternate academic, religious, philosophical, and social environments in which to educate their children. The majority of home-schooled children in South Carolina are from white, middle-class, evangelical Protestant families, although African American and Hispanic families are choosing to home school in increasing numbers.
Parents home school their children for a variety of practical and personal reasons. Home schooling employs a tutorial method of instruction that is effective, allowing parents to tailor the curriculum to meet the individual learning style, interests, and educational goals of each child. Home-schooled students consistently score well above average on standardized tests. In South Carolina the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools (SCAIHS) reported that in 2001 the average SAT score for its students was 1067 compared to the state average of 974. Other parents home school their children because they object to what they perceive is being taught (or not taught) in public and private schools. Inspired by fundamentalist Christianity and a conservative political and social outlook, these parents home school to avoid what they see as secular and non- Christian values espoused in contemporary schools.
Prior to 1984 the home-schooling movement in South Carolina was small, unorganized, and largely unnoticed. But by 1988 the number of home-schooling families had grown dramatically. After being subjected to intensive grassroots activism, the South Carolina General Assembly passed the first modern piece of home-schooling legislation in 1988, which required local school boards to approve home-schooling programs. The law also required teaching parents without a four-year degree to pass an Education Entrance Examination (EEE) in order to home school. The EEE requirement antagonized home-schooling advocates and ushered in a new round of litigation. In 1990 the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools (SCAIHS) was incorporated as a private approval organization for home-school families, negating the need for parents to gain approval from local school districts. The following year the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the EEE as a requirement for home-schooling parents, which opened the door for SCAIHS to seek a legislative remedy for home-schooling parents. In 1992 the General Assembly enacted legislation that allowed home-schooling parents to join SCAIHS in lieu of being approved by local school districts. In 1996 the General Assembly passed a third law, allowing other associations to approve home-schooling families if specified guidelines were followed.
Carper, James C. “Pluralism to Establishment to Dissent: The Religious and Educational Context of Home Schooling.” Peabody Journal of Education 75, nos. 1–2 (2000): 8–19.
Tyler, Zan Peters, and James C. Carper. “From Confrontation to Accommodation: Home Schooling in South Carolina.” Peabody Journal of Education 75, nos. 1–2 (2000): 32–48.
Van Galen, Jane, and Mary Anne Pitman, eds. Home Schooling: Political, Historical, and Pedagogical Perspectives. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex, 1991.