By now you may have heard of the bill going through the Iowa Legislature in both the House and the Senate that deals with giving parents of school-age children the choice of going to a public school or a private school. In my own experience, I received a very fine public-school education, as did my daughter. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I do not hate public schools or teachers but have been accused of that very thing.
This bill is about school choice not how bad a school is or isn’t. It is about giving parents the freedom to decide where their child goes to school and what they learn. Quite frankly, over the years, we have lost our focus. Our focus is currently on schools and institutions, but our focus should be on the child and the child’s education. This bill is about families making decisions that are best for the family. This is about parents needing something different for their children, desperate for a change, and seeking an option that will meet their child’s needs and equip them for future success.
On Tuesday night January 18, I held a public hearing in which over 200 people from all over the state showed up and we had 50 people speak. It was a great night in which people could speak directly to the legislature and express their thoughts. We had exactly one-half of the people who spoke for the bill and one-half speak against the bill during the hour and one-half time.
It was helpful and encouraging to hear both sides of the issue in person and there was a lot of passion for both for or against the bill. There are a lot of mistruths about the bill, unfortunately, and these mistruths come from both sides.
Let’s first discuss some misconceptions about the bill, and then move to what is the truth of the bill.
First, the bill is not a voucher bill. Opponents of the bill call them vouchers because that name holds a negative connotation.
The bill is not about attacking public school teachers or schools. Again, it is convenient for public school teachers and schools to say this. I think most of our teachers and schools are doing awesome for our kids. The bill is not about destroying public schools. Iowa has some of the best public schools in the nation and the world. This bill is not to funnel the money of our hardworking to private schools without oversight. All schools that are eligible for ESAs must be accredited the same as public schools.
Why would we destroy that?
Let’s talk about what this bill is. It is important to understand what the bill is supposed to do rather than guess its intent. The bill is 100 percent about the child. Like I said before, we have lost our focus on why we fund education. Our educational system’s entire purpose is to fund and facilitate learning for our children, as is embedded in the constitution.
We fund education whether it is private education or public education to have a ready and productive citizenship.
I am a firm believer that to have the Democratic Republic which we hold, we must educate our children as best we can. I have been in countries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where a goal of past Presidents was to democratize the country. It just doesn’t work if you have an uneducated population. Reading and writing are critical to maintaining a healthy Republic.
Thus, the concern we should have is not where the child is taught but how well the child is taught.
With that said, I do not believe it is right for the government to have a monopoly on education. Some children and their parents do not fit well into a public-school environment. There are multiple reasons for this but we as a government shouldn’t be concerned about the why. All we should be concerned with is that the child is being adequately trained and educated to maintain our Republic.
Once again, the education choice bill is about giving parents the freedom to send their children to the school that is best suited for the child’s needs and supports the parent’s values and thoughts. Some parents simply want a choice about where to send their children if the school is doing things like drag queen shows, gender identity policies, and other woke issues. Social issues are not the realm of the public-school system, and some parents are just tired of it. So, this bill is about freedom and parents’ choices over the government’s monopoly on education.