"I also believe parents who are teaching their kids at home, homeschoolers, deserve a break, and I've asked for a tax credit to help parents in their homes with the cost of being an at-home teacher," he said.
Romney supports giving parents more educational options, through charter schools or vouchers, but he said legislation should be done on a state level.
"I really hesitate to have the federal government become too involved in local schools," he said.
Romney also said teachers are underpaid and better teachers should be rewarded with more money.
"I'd like to see there be a relationship between the pay of the teacher and their performance, their career track, their ability to mentor other students," Romney told more than 100 people at a children's museum in this early voting state. "We need to treat teachers like the professionals they are and not like people manufacturing widgets on an assembly line."
Romney downplayed the news that rival had , touting his own endorsement from Bob Jones University chancellor Bob Jones III instead. The Christian fundamentalist school is located in conservative northwest South Carolina.
"I can't get all the social conservatives to endorse my candidacy," Romney told reporters. "I'm really pleased with the support I've got. The people who have the ultimate say are the voters."
Romney also said he was not surprised that former rival Sam Brownback threw his support behind colleague on Wednesday.
They "have worked together in the Senate for a long time and that's probably to be expected," he said.
On teacher pay, Romney said each state should decide the compensation. He said as governor, he pushed for a $15,000 bonus package for the best teachers in Massachusetts, including $5,000 bonuses for math and science teachers and $5,000 bonuses for teachers deemed in the top third of a school.