One of the most dominant issues in government across the country these last several months has been parental involvement in their children’s education. Elections last year dramatically illustrated the demand from parents to be more involved in their local schools, know what their children are being taught, and be aware of the materials their children can access. Parents are asserting their God-given rights and responsibilities to raise their children in the manner they see fit. When parents see a lack of rigor, sexually explicit materials in their children’s curriculum, or obscene content available to them in a school library, they expect to be heard and to have a resolution.
This week the Iowa Senate passed SF 2369 to empower parents and give them the ability to direct their children’s education. The first major policy initiative in the bill is commonly referred to as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” It guarantees parents have access to the curriculum, library materials, guest speakers, and other information related to the public education of their children. Sexually explicit material is more commonly available in public school and parents are becoming aware of it. Many parents want a clear and consistent path to address that material with the school. This bill provides that path. If the concerns parents have regarding their student’s education are not adequately addressed by the school, then parents need choice in education.
The second major part of the bill gives parents that choice in education. Up to 10,000 Iowa students would be able to utilize a scholarship to pay for private school education if their family income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level or they have an individualized education plan (IEP). This proposal gives low- and middle-income parents in Iowa the same school choice options wealthy parents have. With this bill all Iowa families will have access to school choice, not just parents who can afford it.
The state portion of education funding is approximately $7,500 per student. In this bill, more than $5,00 of that amount is available in a scholarship for a student for private school education. The remainder is allocated to a special fund to support increased operational sharing functions. Operational sharing is a tool used by many rural districts in Iowa to share administrators and other leadership functions with nearby districts to meet the needs of the rural school at a reduced cost.
Last year the Iowa Senate passed bills ensuring parents had the option to send their children to school full time, making Iowa’s open enrollment law applicable to all students, and giving parents the choice to decide if their child wore a mask to school. SF 2369 continues to implement that pro-parent agenda and empowers parents to more effectively direct their children’s education. It empowers them with a clear and consistent path to involvement in their local schools. If their local schools are unable or unwilling to meet expectations then all parents will now have a choice in their children’s education.