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One reason squishy Iowa House Republicans provide for siding with the education lobby and government school institutions over Iowa parents, children and families is that Education Savings Accounts would pose a risk to the independence of Iowa’s private schools.

One Republican asked if we want the legislature to decide private schools no longer control their curriculum or will be restricted in what they teach because they take taxpayer dollars.

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This ignores one glaring thing — private schools already receive taxpayer dollars. The Iowa Tuition Grant, for instance, seems to have worked out for Iowa’s private colleges. I could be wrong, but I am not aware of many private colleges in Iowa that believe it lacks the necessary autonomy because it takes taxpayer dollars.

And private schools in Iowa already benefit from taxpayer dollars for things like transportation.

Many schools also take taxpayer dollars for free or reduced lunch programs.

An Iowa House Republican pointed to concerns that private preschools in Iowa are being told they must accept all students and cannot discriminate on sexual orientation or religion.

“What happens when a family decides to sue a private school because they don’t like the curriculum,” this House Republican said.

ESAs exist in other states. It would be interesting to see the examples of private schools being sued over curriculum in these other states.

It would be interesting to see private schools in these states and consider whether they’re lamenting over any loss of autonomy.

And, keep in mind, it’s crazy to hear legislators concerned about the “autonomy” of private schools when they’ve done little with respect to medical freedom and autonomy.

Sorry, that’s another story for another day…

At the end of the day, one has to wonder if this threat of losing autonomy is indeed looming over private schools with the passage of ESAs, why are private schools the most vocal supporters of passing ESAs?

Wouldn’t the people running the private schools have an idea of the risks and rewards? Wouldn’t they know what experiences have been like in other states? Would they really risk long-term autonomy for short-term gain?

So, are the leaders in Iowa’s private schools ignorant of the outcomes of ESAs, or are Iowa House Republicans just buying what they’re being sold by the government education lobby and using this “concern” for the autonomy of private schools as a reason to kill choice for Iowa moms and dads?

Author: Jacob Hall

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