116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Matthew Whitaker’s guest column in Tuesday’s Gazette argues for the various “school choice” bills designed by Republican legislators and backed by Gov. Kim Reynolds. He presents a straw man argument, a form of logical fallacy in which the real issue of the argument is replaced with a false one. His column opens with this claim: “A wave of anti-American, woke ideology and linear educational curricula swept across our schools last year.”
He doesn’t provide evidence for this statement. I taught in a Cedar Rapids public high school until my retirement in June 2020, but cannot find any evidence of such teaching practices or curricula.
What I can say is that Whitaker’s claim that these bills provide “school choice” is not true, at least for most Iowans. One bill proposes to take $5,200 that the state would provide to the public school a student attends and give it to the parents of that student, allowing them to pay the tuition to send him or her to a private school.
Except that private high schools exist in only 23 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Except that the $5,200 would pay only 51 percent of the annual tuition at, say, Cedar Rapids Xavier High School, and 40 percent of the annual tuition at West Des Moines Dowling High School, unless those parents are practicing Catholics.
We might forgive Mr. Whitaker’s confusion. After all, he no longer lives in Iowa. But what about Reynolds and Republican lawmakers?