Letter to the Editor: Submitted by Ann Hart

To the Editor:

Iowans share a history of valuing our children’s education. We believe every child has a right to a public education regardless of race, religion, or ZIP code and all children deserve a quality public school education. Unfortunately, Gov. Reynolds and her supporters do not share these values and instead, have chosen to weaken our public schools.

For years, Gov. Reynolds and her supporters have underfunded public schools. Then last year, Gov. Reynolds and her supporters passed vouchers (Educational Savings Accounts, or ESAs) which gives our public dollars to private schools. Vouchers draw money away from public schools in the amount of $7,635 per student.

In Iowa, two out of three students who received private school voucher money were already enrolled in private schools (Department of Education). This means that recipients are getting a taxpayer subsidy for a service they could already afford. Over four years, vouchers will cost us taxpayers close to $900 million.

Rural schools like ours are hurt the most by vouchers and underfunding. Small schools struggle to stay open and struggle to provide the opportunities children deserve. In small communities like ours, the public school is the heartbeat of the town. When communities lose their schools, the town loses jobs. Imagine how children and communities could thrive if $900 million was invested in our children’s future and our public schools.

Private school vouchers are a terrible deal for taxpayers and children. Vouchers shortchange the vast majority of Iowa students, while committing public money to private schools without the accountability and transparency taxpayers deserve.

When you vote, think of who is on the side of strong, thriving public schools where children have opportunity, and who undermines and weakens public schools. Our children’s future depends on the vote you cast.

Ann Hart