‘School Choice’ is wrong for Iowa

Iowa Senator Jeff Edler representing us in District 36 has voted to raise our property taxes and decrease the quality of public education in Iowa, but the bill has not passed the Iowa House, yet. Edler voted in favor of Senate File 159 “School Choice” (taxpayer-funded private education). He and the governor tell us this won’t represent a dramatic overhaul of Iowa’s education system. However, if passed, it will have a negative impact and will also raise your property taxes. If this bill passes, the funding will be taken from public schools with low standardized test scores and be given to private school students in the form of scholarships. Regrettably, there’s a pandemic right now which has interrupted instruction in public schools and lower scores have been the result. Never have public schools needed more resources for getting caught up on skills than now. This is exactly the wrong time to take away resources, not just from low-income and second language learners, but for all our students who have missed out on instructional time and will be scoring below previous standards.

In Iowa, schools are funded per pupil. Under the “School Choice” proposal around 10,200 Iowa students would be eligible for private school scholarships. That is estimated to cost public schools $2.1 million in the first year with the number to grow in future. Other states have seen private school funding programs grow in the years after they’re established. Students would automatically qualify for a scholarship for each succeeding year. How many private institutions operating without government oversight are you willing to pay for with your property taxes? For example, your property taxes fund police, but should they pay for your neighbor’s private security system at the expense of police budgets?

This is the wrong legislation at the wrong time in a state that used to be a leader in education. Make sure the Iowa House and Gov. Reynolds know you are against “School Choice.” Choose no property tax increase and no decrease in public school resources.


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