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  • Writer's pictureSarah Smith

Vouchers Hurt Rural Public Schools

All Iowa children deserve a great education and that means supporting public schools. As a mother, as an engaged member of my community, and as someone who hopes to represent all people in my district to the best of my ability when I am elected, I reject the Iowa GOP lawmakers’ attempts to take resources from public schools. Even if our public schools had proper funding, which they do not, reallocating money to benefit only a small minority of our youth is wrong. All children deserve to have access to properly funded education, and vouchers for private schools proposed by the states leaders makes that an impossibility.

Our schools, our teachers, and our students are already facing a difficult academic path in the aftermath of the raging pandemic. By restricting resources and investment even more, class sizes will increase, rural school closures will become more frequent, the learning environment of our children will decay, and the opportunities of our kids will decrease. Proponents of the private school vouchers claim that this policy allows for increased choice for Iowan parents. However, given that 42 of Iowa’s 99 counties are absent of any private schools, it becomes apparent that the choice exists only for those in urban communities, which are better served and supported anyway. Furthermore, the children that will actually end up receiving these so-called benefits make up less than 2% of Iowa students. Most importantly, the majority of Iowans, and my constituents, oppose these private school vouchers. I cannot support a policy that transparently disadvantages the students in need of the most help and something that so blatantly disregards the wishes of the people I am representing.

Public money belongs in public schools. While funding for private institutions and home-schooling endeavors over the past six years have ballooned by 150%, investment in public schools has barely been able to keep them functional. If this proposal passes, a further $79 million will be diverted from our struggling public schools. These vouchers act as a form of sabotage to one of the most foundational institutions the Iowa legislature should be supporting. When elected I will stand strong to support our public schools, and in turn support rural families, students, and communities.

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