116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Another Iowa Legislative Session brings yet another attempt at a voucher plan. Gov. Kim Reynolds has proposed a new voucher plan that has a hefty price tag for Iowans.
One question every Iowan should be asking is how this voucher program will be paid for. It is estimated that this plan will cost nearly $1 billion dollars over the next 4 years. At the same time, the implementation of the flat tax will be decreasing revenues by nearly 1.8 billion dollars. It seems obvious that budgets will need to be cut. As a voter, ask yourself which public services are you willing to give up in order to fund this voucher plan?
Voucher programs are often touted as a way to give parents choice. A more accurate statement would be that vouchers give private schools a choice in who they enroll. Private schools can pick and choose which students they accept while public schools accept all students. Private schools are not required to accept students with disabilities, students with language barriers or students with Individualized Education Plans. Private schools are not required to be open to all students regardless of race, religion, gender, and socio-economic status. Private schools would be allowed to use your public tax dollars while also discriminating against some Iowa children. This is not fair to our children.
Private schools also operate without the oversight found in our public schools. There is no publicly elected board. There is no accountability in finances or in curriculum. There is no required transparency and accountability, either locally or by state mandate. This creates an uneven playing field and is not fair to Iowans.
Private schools in Iowa can be founded by individuals or entities from outside our state. Therefore, these unregulated, for profit schools may be sending your tax dollars out of state, supporting economies in other states. Wouldn’t you prefer to see your tax dollars being used to provide jobs and financial security to fellow Iowans?
Iowa public schools have a long tradition of excellence. In fact, at one time, they were held in such high regard that they were celebrated on our state quarter with the inscription “Foundation in Education.” The Governor’s voucher plan will most certainly shake the foundation of our public schools, which were once a source of great pride for all Iowans. Please oppose this voucher plan. Instead, ask your legislators to invest in our public schools so that every Iowa student has the opportunity to be “Future Ready.”
Cindy Garlock is legislative liaison for the Cedar Rapids Community School District Board of Directors. Her column is submitted on behalf of the board.
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