Tax dollars should stay with public schools

I am writing in opposition to the proposed Voucher/Education Savings Account (ESA) bill Governor Reynolds and her out-of-state big money contributors are attempting to push through the Iowa Legislature.

Why do I oppose this bill?

Separation of church and state. Where have you heard this? It’s in the Constitution. The proposed bill takes public taxpayer funds and supports church-sponsored schools.

Private schools have no requirements for learning standards. There are no safeguards in place to provide additional support and resources for students who are falling behind or suffering with their learning. In fact, if the students are too burdensome, they do not need to be accepted back next year.

Furthermore, many private schools are not accredited. They operate under the homeschool umbrella.

Private schools may be discriminatory in student acceptance. They are not required, nor do they intend to meet the needs of all students.

This is primarily a transfer of wealth to the already wealthy. The dollars funding these vouchers will be transferred to those who have already chosen and can already afford to send their children to private school.

This bill moves tax dollars from rural areas to support the most geographically populated areas.

This bill isn’t sustainable. While the state has a current surplus, why is that possible? Reynolds has underfunded public schools for years and the majority of the surplus is due to federally provided funds.

To support this bill in the future, increased funds will be transferred from public schools, eliminating programs and opportunities for all students.

The majority of Iowans are against this bill, and it will be another move by Reynolds to cause young adults and their children to relocate to surrounding states (Minnesota, Nebraska, and Illinois) where leaders are investing heavily in public schools.

The tax cuts Reynolds and her supporters put into place for the wealthy will be decreasing general fund revenues (estimated at $1.8 billion annually) at the same time this bill’s costs (conservatively estimated between $300M – $400M annually) will be coming online.

I strongly recommend you contact local legislators to ensure your voice is heard, and your tax dollars are supporting your public schools and not transferred to those wealthy Iowans who have already chosen to send their children to private school.

James Gruening — co-founder of Mechdyne Corporation, rural Iowa public school educated, and proud parent of two recent Marshalltown Community School District graduates.


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