April 2, 2022

Chris Rowles: Voucher bill would harm public schools

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Social studies teacher Chris Rowles points out that proposed Iowa voucher law is bad for public education and taxpayers. 

Education tax dollars belong to all taxpayers in this state. If public tax dollars are going to be given to a private school or for profit entity, citizens should be able to see where those dollars are going.

With the current bill being considered in the Legislature, there is no clear way that a concerned citizen would be able to track these dollars to make certain they are being spent on education related expenses for students. The state treasurer would be asked to contract with a private firm to manage this pool of dollars. Money would be dispersed by debit card or check from each individual student’s account. These funds could be carried over from year to year and it is hard to believe that the state would be able to manage this money appropriately. The potential for fraud with this lack of transparency and accountability seems high.

I may not always agree with how the Cedar Rapids Community School District spends my tax dollars, but I can see how those dollars are being spent with a quick search of the board agenda and minutes of each meeting. I also can speak at a board meeting or contact the board of directors if I have a concern. None of this accountability or transparency exists with the bill under consideration.

This current bill, passed by the Senate, has also failed to garner necessary support from the Republican majority in the Iowa House. It seems that most House members recognize that the resources we have in this state need to go to the most students. The Senate bill being considered would cost $55.2 million to benefit just 10,000 students. At a time when our public schools are facing unprecedented challenges due to a pandemic, labor shortages, and rising costs; available resources should go to support the more than 484,000 public school students in all 99 counties. If this bill is passed and signed into law, it could lead to the closure or consolidation of more public schools in rural areas.

This voucher bill is another attempt Republicans to funnel tax dollars to for-profit private entities.

Read the full op-ed here.

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