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On Monday, I was offered the opportunity to do the opening prayer for the day.  I was reminded how much I have missed inviting some of our local pastors to come to the Statehouse over the past couple of years.  I took the time given to me to ask for a moment of silence for the people of the Ukraine and also for the people affected by the severe weather over the past weekend.


We just spent a rather strange week.  Most of our standing committees were only scheduled to meet once rather than the more normal two or three times.  Even at that, most meetings were then canceled.  We thought we were going to debate Tuesday afternoon, but suddenly we were adjourned at 10:30 a.m. until Wednesday morning.

Frankly, I would not mind if some of the more contentious bills never come to the floor for debate…which brings me to the “voucher bill”, SF 159.

Ninety percent of Iowa’s school-aged children attend public schools.  A list of regulations more than five pages long governs how those schools must operate in order to receive public money.  The list of regulations for private schools is written on one-half page.  How can more public money be directed to institutions that have little or no transparency or accountability to the taxpayers?

Private schools and homeschooling are great options for those who choose that path. But we cannot ignore and continue to underfund the 90% of Iowa kids who attend public schools.

Currently, private schools receive approximately $104 million annually from tax-funded programs.

That amount has increased 150% since 2015.  Attending private schools is a choice…but only for those who qualify.  Public schools must educate all children within their districts, no matter what their situation may be regarding disabilities, language proficiency, diversity, etc.  Private schools can pick and choose.

In addition, there are other sections of this bill that are troublesome and seem unfair to me.  For instance, the bill would require transparency for public school teachers (lesson plans in minute detail submitted six months in advance for approval, including lists of books, videos, etc. to be used)…but not for private school teachers.

This is a very large bill that has a Senate version and a House version.  I hope that you will continue to follow its progress and make your opinions known at the Statehouse.

It is that time of year when rumors about early adjournment start to circulate.  So much left to do and so much to leave undone!  Please take note of our forum; I would love to see you there.

Author: Sharon Steckman

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