On Thursday, the Iowa House voted on funding public schools for next year.
After listening to local school districts and teachers, Democratic lawmakers proposed an additional investment of $300 million next school year to make sure every kid gets a quality education. The $300 million investment equates to the exact amount offered to corporations by Governor Reynolds in her recent tax cut plan.
On a straight party-line vote, Majority Party lawmakers ignored their schools’ local needs and adopted a state funding level at about half of what Democrats proposed. Many parents and educators have expressed growing concern that the smaller funding level is insufficient in keeping up with rising costs in public schools or with keeping teachers in the classroom.
Over the last decade, state funding for public schools has been at historical lows and 134 schools have closed. Iowa currently ranks 39th out of 50 in state per student funding and is $1,280 below the national average.
Public schools have been at the center of discussions this legislative session, with the President of the Senate claiming on day one that Iowa teachers are following a “sinister agenda.” Several bills have since been introduced that put teachers in jail, ban books, and put cameras in every classroom.
These lawmakers are also working on a voucher bill that will shift money from public schools to private schools.
The bill now goes to the Iowa Senate.