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Week 2 of the session was busy, but short due Martin Luther King Holiday Monday, and then due to the snow coming in Wednesday afternoon.

This week the House and Senate passed the governor’s Students First Act out of their respective Committees.  Also, the House held a public hearing on the bill on Tuesday night that was well attended.  Over 120 signed up to speak, but time only allowed for 50 or so.  Speakers were staggered pro and con so both sides got an equal chance to speak.

I am in full support of the Students First Act.  It is only fair that we offer low-income families an opportunity to send their child to a private school if it is a better fit for their child.  Each child and their family has different needs, a public school is not necessarily a good fit for every child and family, just as private schools or home schools are not necessarily a good fit for every child and family.  By expanding choices, we improve education across the spectrum.  In the last few years, we have seen many of our public schools engage in practices that are shocking.  The Ames school district gave 4th graders an eight-page list of terms associated with homosexuality and gender transition.  The Linn-Mar school district board passed a policy that not only allows the teachers to assist a child in gender transition, but allows the teachers to hide that information from the child’s parents.  We have found schools that continue to promote the discredited “Black Lives Matter” political organization.  Many of our schools have books in their libraries that are pornographic in nature, with graphic pictures and descriptions of sex acts.  A Des Moines area school held a sexually explicit “Drag Queen Show” on school property. The list goes on and on.  Parents deserve more options when the government-run schools are working in opposition to the parent’s values.

Private schools are accountable to the parents that choose them, a powerful accountability standard.  Additionally, under this bill, only accredited private schools will be eligible.  To be accredited they must hire licensed teachers and are responsible for standardized testing and reporting requirements the same as public schools.

Public schools receive over $17,000 from all funding sources per child enrolled, and much more for each child that has an Individual Education Plan, which can be as much as $25,000 or more.  Therefore, it’s only fitting that public schools accept every child, they are being well-paid for that service by the taxpayers.  Private schools generally operate at a much lower cost per student, and this legislation caps the ESA at $7,600.  Even then, private schools often accept these students with an IEP.

Iowa will join over 19 other states that have implemented similar programs for education choice.  We stand on solid experience that proves that education choice is beneficial.

Freedom in education is a fundamental freedom and I support all our education options, including homeschooling, private and religious schooling, and our public schools.

Author: Dean Fisher


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