Letter to the Editor by Ann Fields

To the Editor:

The Iowa legislature passed the Senate File 94 that will provide $7600 per year as an “educational savings account” (ESA) for students attending private elementary or secondary schools. This bill did not have to pass the House Education Committee, go through the Appropriations Committee, nor were any amendments allowed, thus restricting debate over budgets and additions.

The bill is an assault on public education:
• Private schools are not required to take all students nor to provide for handicapped students.
• Private schools are not required to have public meetings, maintain and produce public records, nor have citizen oversight.
• Private schools will now be funded by tax dollars - your tax dollars - yet you will have no accounting of the dollars.
• In many cases, the $7600 will not cover the price of tuition, so low-income families still will not be able to attend private school. Thus, the $7600 will only put more money in the pockets of the rich.
• Public schools will be receiving less money (estimates of over $350 million/year) to continue to provide a quality education.

At the recent town hall meeting regarding this issue, Senator Mike Klimesh didn’t know if the Iowa Core would be required in private schools.  If not, will private schools provide a quality education?

Representative Anne Osmundson admitted that she had not read all the bills that she endorsed. What? Would you sign papers that you haven’t read?

Don’t forget this assault on public education in two years when you are in the voter’s booth.

Ann Fields
Former President of William Penn University, Oskaloosa