Living in Society

Funding Public Schools

Officer Writing a Letter by Gerard ter Borch. Photo Credit – Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Government should be in the business of funding public schools so that every child has access to a world class education. In her condition of the state address, Governor Kim Reynolds explained how much money state government was contributing to public schools. Everything was fine until school choice came up.

“But for some families, the school district doesn’t fit their values or meet the needs of their child,” Reynolds said, pivoting to school choice.

If parents want or need school choice, they should be able to find an alternative. At the same time, it is not government’s job to fund every parent’s dream education for their child. That’s where Republicans and I differ.

In the 1960s, compulsory school standards caused a problem in Oelwein. The school superintendent required Amish children to attend public school and they refused. Democratic Governor Harold Hughes intervened to request a moratorium on compulsory education for the Amish and defused the situation. In 1967 the legislature passed a law exempting the Amish from compulsory education and school standards based on their religious affiliation.

What is going on today is nothing like that. Public schools struggle with inadequate funding and we are talking about more money for private schools?

My member of congress, Mariannette Miller-Meeks is in sync with the governor and has adopted a D.C.-based approach to school choice.

In an editorial in the Independent Advocate, Miller-Meeks wrote, “Not every school is right for every student; thus, it is imperative that we give families the choice to send their child to the school that works best for them.”

Miller-Meeks introduced The Choice Act in the U.S. House. The Choice Act “would allow parents to be in control of their children’s education by expanding school choice programs and by creating greater awareness of different types of programs,” she wrote. The Choice Act takes us the wrong direction.

What is the limit on school choice? How much should the federal government be involved paying for school choice?

Public schools exist for a reason, to make the best use of tax dollars to provide quality education for all children. School choice as Reynolds and Miller-Meeks frame it is counter productive to good public schools.