116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Politics have no place in the classroom. Yet, a wave of anti-American, woke ideology and linear educational curricula swept across our schools last year, setting the stage for the Iowa Legislature to finally make Education Savings Accounts a reality.
Educational Savings Accounts, or ESAs, are government-authorized savings accounts meant to help parents pay for alternative non-public educational opportunities. ESAs work like regular bank accounts to help fund the costs of alternative education. ESA accounts give Iowa families the financial freedom and flexibility to pay tuition costs, which is crucial as inflation surges and take-home pay for families is shrinking, not to mention the burden of gas prices.
Iowa, like other states, allocates its taxpayer-funded education funds to public schools on a per-pupil basis. But instead of giving money to parents and students first, big government schools keep these funds for themselves, creating a backward system. What’s more, ultra-political teachers’ unions are spending millions of dollars of union dues to keep politics and radical agendas in the classroom.
The National Education Association alone, from 1990 through 2019, contributed nearly $143.5 million to federal political candidates and committees, 97 percent of which supported Democrats. They again spent $48 million during the 2020 election cycle, of which 94 percent went to Democrats.
“Knowledge is power” has been a cornerstone of the education and empowerment movement since it was etched into Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello more than 200 years ago. Jefferson, who was home-schooled, understood that education was necessary for the growth of our nation and that young minds need careful molding.
ESAs would cover tuition costs and other approved expenses associated with a non-public school learning environment. These materials, in some instances, can cost thousands of dollars. Unspent funds typically roll over to the following year for an ESA, ultimately using taxpayer education funds more efficiently.
It is not the role of the government to dictate how and where a child is educated. That decision needs to be left to parents. Currently, legislation is in the Iowa House and Senate to support this. Senate Study Bill 3080 and House Study Bill 672 are part of Gov. Kim Reynold’s plan to provide funding to expand school choice of up to 10,000 scholarships for Iowa families. House File 2223 goes a step further and would give a “Hope Scholarship” Education Savings Accounts in 2023 for children in public school and juniors and seniors in non-public schools for as many students as possible. As parents, we must support families to ensure this legislation is passed.
Thomas Jefferson famously once wrote, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” Imagine an Iowa where our nearly 500,000 children enrolled in K-12 schools could have an even greater opportunity for success. It’s time for the Iowa Legislature to act and pass bills to further parental choice in education. Iowa families and students should come first, not last.
Matthew Whitaker, a Hawkeye and past resident of Iowa, served as Acting Attorney General of the United States.