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Strong public schools have always been the foundation of Iowa values and the heart of communities of all sizes.

Over the last two years, educators have been working overtime under tough circumstances to support our kids and make sure they are getting a world-class education.

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Like many of us, they are also exhausted.

Every day, I’m hearing from more and more educators that don’t plan to be in the classroom next fall. It’s a troubling development when Iowa already faces a significant workforce shortage.

Honestly, I can’t blame them. They’ve worked under extraordinarily difficult circumstances for the last two years and the message they’ve been hearing from the Iowa Legislature is not one of thanks or compassion. Instead, they’ve been told they have a “sinister” agenda and are being threatened with jail time for doing their jobs.

As an Iowan who received a great education from our public schools, it’s disappointing to see our public schools become the focus of division and politics in Iowa.

With just a month to go in session, the fate of the Governor’s voucher plan, which shifts our tax dollars from public schools to private schools, is still uncertain. It’s been worked on in the Senate and another bill is currently sitting in the Iowa House.

Vouchers have been on the radar for the last several years, but a bill hasn’t made it through the process with stiff opposition from both sides of the aisle. That includes several Republican lawmakers from rural areas who understand vouchers actually take away opportunities from most kids.

With our long history of strong public schools, most Iowans believe that public money should be used for public schools.

While the Governor says it’s all about “choice,” the reality is Iowa parents already have lots of choices for educating their children through homeschooling, private schools, or even open enrollment to another district.

Iowa taxpayers already contribute a significant amount to support nonpublic schools for things like busing, textbooks, and tuition assistance. Over the last six years, state funding for private schools and homeschools has increased by 150 percent while state funding for public schools has barely kept up with rising costs. This year alone, more than $100 million of our public tax dollars will already be spent to support non-public schools.

If the bill is approved, only two percent of Iowa students would benefit while the rest of Iowa kids in public schools would end up losing opportunities. That’s because shifting millions of state dollars out of public schools will result in more school closings and larger class sizes.

At the end of the day, it’s our job to make sure every kid gets a great education, not to offer something new to just a few at the expense of others.

The more Iowans learn about vouchers, the more they realize they aren’t in line with our Iowa values.

I think it’s time to end the uncertainty and scrap the voucher bill. It’s the best move for every Iowa kid and it will send a positive message to teachers that we value their work.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. My Iowa tax dollars go to educate Iowans. State collectivism works provided the message (education) is good and productive. Public education has taken accountability out of the curriculum not just for the students but for everyone. Morality is gone, hypocrisy prevails. The “extraordinary difficult circumstances” for teachers is the product of their compliance with unworkable policies and curriculum that come from deep state unelected and unaccountable administrative government agencies. The ship of state that had in its hold a good education has sailed. What we have in the harbor now is a garbage scow. Before anybody says another word about this issue please read the book “charter schools and their enemies“ by Thomas Sowell. If schools were so great why would parents removing their children out of public school increase from 3% to 13% in one year. What is left in the public schools are good teachers that do a good job in spite of a “sinister agenda” and good students that will go on in life to be productive and moral citizens In spite of the extraordinary difficult circumstances found in public schools.

  2. My tax dollars should go with my child to educate them as I choose. Not to public schools that have failed. Parents would not be pulling them out if they were getting the education parents approved of. I was a public school teacher and I would not put my kids in public school.

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