Iowa soon could take millions of dollars away from public schools to give to private school students under a Republican bill moving forward in the Iowa Senate.
So called “private school vouchers” siphon taxpayer dollars away from public education that benefits all Iowa students and gives them to a few private school students.
SF 372, which narrowly passed the Senate Education Committee on March 6, provides vouchers for students in special education or with certain disabilities in some parts of the state. Under the bill, an estimated $7,019 per student will be given to private schools for those students. This reduces the funding available to maintain high-quality offerings at our public schools.
This bill could provide incentive to put more kids into special education or label them with certain disabilities in an effort to get more taxpayer dollars for private schools. In addition, it puts in jeopardy the state’s eligibility for federal special education funding. Iowa could lose critical federal money for the same special education students this bill is supposed to help. That’s a lose-lose situation for our students.
The millions in public tax dollars this plan will cost should instead be invested in our public schools, which educate more than 92 percent of Iowa students. Iowa’s public schools offer a variety of educational choices to meet the needs of 485,000 students — online classes, dual enrollment, competency based education and more.
Instead of taking money from our public schools, we should invest more to reduce class sizes, improve teacher training, increase parental involvement, and provide more career and technical education and STEM opportunities that prepare Iowa to compete in the global economy.
— Sen. Rich Taylor represents Henry and Lee counties and portions of Washington and Jefferson counties. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 319-931-1568.