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As we move towards adjournment we have come to a stalemate between the Governor, the Senate Republicans and the House Republicans.  The Senate Republicans and the Governor support the voucher bill, a bill that would take public funding from our public schools and give it to private schools.  Democrats in the house and senate are adamantly opposed to this legislation. House Republicans have stated, they do not have the votes to pass the voucher bill.

So, everything has come to a standstill. Republicans in the senate are refusing to pass any budget bills until the voucher bill is passed in the House.  House Republicans have gone home and refuse to return until the Senate Republicans reach a compromise on the budget bills and finish their work.

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Iowans currently have school choice. Any parent can decide how they want their child to be educated. The choices include home school, private school and public school.  The issue is who should foot the bill.  I have always believed that public dollars should be used to support our public schools. If parents choose to have their children home schooled or attend a private school, they should pay for that.  Private schools can select who may attend their programs. Public schools cannot!  Private schools can teach whatever they want with no public oversight. Public schools cannot.  Private schools receive numerous tax breaks that provide their students scholarships to attend these private schools. Iowa currently has approximately 33,000 students who attend private schools. We have almost 500,000 public school students. I firmly believe public dollars should be used to support our public schools. It has been frustrating to see the decline in state support for our public schools over the years. We have always taken pride in the quality of our public schools and the teachers and staff who support our students. It is my hope that future elections will change the make-up of the legislature and allow us to return to the days when public schools were a top priority for all legislators.

Author: Mary Mascher

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1 COMMENT

  1. Democrat Mascher says “I firmly believe public dollars should be used to support our public schools.” Well under proposals before the legislature they will be. Perhaps she meant only used to support public schools. But either way her position conceptually has real consistency problems unless she is advocating that in the area of education Pell Grants, and Iowa Tuition Grants, school busing, should not benefit private school students. It also does not square well with even allowing tax deductions or exemptions for private school fees or institutions.

    Consistency would require her to oppose the use of any tax support, treasury payment, exemption or benefit when a state created entity exists, even when private entities pre-existed the state entity as was the case with education and which is also the case with health care delivery and social services. Her position (may I use that pronoun) would seem logically to implicate that the state ought not buy any service from any private entity and should only transfer payments when the entity is a tax dependent entity.

    The core goal of the state should be to facilitate basic education (indeed be limited to it) not the perpetuation of government run schools with all their inefficiencies, insufficiencies excessive cost and may I add cultural corruptions. It should be presumed the person being supported is the student (under the guidance of the tax-paying parent) not government employees.

    As to the thought that special education students would be abandoned or short-changed, no-body is saying that government schools cannot exist but it should be acknowledged that private entities were the first to step in to education special needs children, including the blind and disabled. The extra costs are often real and a student diagnosed with such needs can have the extra costs added to any formula for reimbursement. Again the goal ought to be education not state bureaucracies. The tax dollars, adjusted for need should follow the student under the prime tutelage of the parent.

    Regrettably there are Republicans parroting the “public dollars should be used to support our public schools” line and they should be called to task in primaries.

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