Reaction To Dismantling Iowa’s Public Schools

The first thought that crosses my mind when I hear about Kim Reynolds half baked scheme to take OUR tax money and hand it over to privatized schools is ‘what’s in it for her?’ There certainly isn’t anything good for it in Iowa as a whole. There may be something good in it for an individual student, but that is kind of a crap shoot.

A better bet than throwing a whole bunch of money in some scattershot attempt that maybe a few students education may be enhanced would be to fund Iowa’s schools the way they should be funded, thus raising the tide for everyone at once. As JFK once said, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Yet for some reason our governor insists that giving money to one student that they will then give to a private school is a much better idea than raising the whole system. Thus as one child’s fortunes may (or may not) be raised by this gambit, all those ‘left behind’ as it were will see their school systems fortunes suffer.

“Choice” they call it. The choice is already there. Parents can now enroll their kids in private schools. If they do so they can decide on how they wish to fund such an endeavor. Right now that does not include taking public tax dollars to fund private schools. Seems to me a better path would be to use our tax dollars to raise education levels for all students.

Strangely when the word “choice” is used in another context, the same people who are pushing “choice” for selected students refuse to allow “choice” for a woman.  

This scheme looks very similar to the Medicaid privatization scheme cooked up by Corporate Kim with her mentor Terry Branstad. They were able to take a fairly well functioning Medicaid system in Iowa and hand it over to private management companies. The cost of management of the system has exploded to 10 times what it was and that huge increase in costs was taken from the care of those in the system and handed over to very well off corporations.

Funny we seldom see any news of how poorly Iowa’s Medicaid system is doing. The Reynolds administration keeps news of the system pretty tightly locked down. Few reporters dare dig into the way the money for patient care has been squandered, else they may be locked out from access.  

I fully expect that this “school choice” boondoggle will run a similar course. Republicans in the Iowa Legislature will pass the bill overwhelmingly. Reynolds and others will sing loud praises to its potential. The money will flow into private hands and any real accounting for how the system really works will be buried.

Then come budget time every year Republicans will take more and more money from the public schools and hand it over to their buddies in the private schools. Iowa’s public schools will continue to deteriorate and this will in turn give Republican legislators an excuse to go after public schools for many invented excuses.

What the long game is for Republicans is to once more tear down a system built for the common good and turn it into yet another get-rich-quick scheme for some greasy entrepreneur. Over time Iowa’s schools will devolve into a mess. Reclaiming their once lofty standards will be out of reach. We will become yet another failed system.

Iowa’s public school system was once the very pride of Iowa. Iowa was always among the top states in education of their children. When my kids graduated from public schools in Iowa, we were still battling for the top. Now, depending on who you read Iowa is somewhere in tenth to thirtieth place.  

Why? Well as with many stories the best place to start is to follow the money. When it comes to education, Iowa’s support for education continues to drop. This latest Republican assault on school budgets ain’t going to help the system as a whole, just some individual winners.

As reported on KMTV in Omaha: 

DES MOINES, Iowa. (CBS) — Iowa has long been known for excellence in education, but lately, it’s ranking a little lower.

World Population Review puts Iowa at 13th, Wallet Hub at 19 and U.S. News and World Report ranks the state 24th.

In the 90s, the state ranked in the top five.

Margaret Buckton with Iowa School Finance Information Services says it’s not because schools are doing worse.

“But it’s interesting, iowa students are testing slightly better on their scores than they did in the 90s,” she said. “It’s not that our education system has gotten worse. It’s that others have improved and we’re not statistically significantly different than about 15 states in that middle of the pack.”

What this also does for Republicans in the legislature is cuts the ranks of teachers who may join unions. That is their idea of a win-win-win. Breaking unions while cutting public services and handing tax dollars to corporate donors: win-win-win

What is also interesting is that these privatized schools don’t have any oversight by the public. We give them our tax dollars and they do with it what they wish. They are not answerable to the public, only to whatever board they have. Yet another win for those who do not want government of the people.

Most of Iowa’s private schools (84%) are currently religious. This is bothersome since this seems to violate the the first amendment prohibition of the separation of church and state. But the Supreme Court threw a wrench into that last summer, so while it feels repugnant and slimy, SCOTUS says it is OK.

Of the 199 private religious schools in Iowa all but one are Christian. You can find a breakdown of these schools here.  

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
This entry was posted in Iowa Legislature, Kim Reynolds and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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