Comments on school voucher bill from January (2:30):
As if anyone should be surprised, the law granting vouchers to parents sending their children to private schools appears to be turning into a scam that will take tax dollars from Iowa’s poor and middle class and funneling that money to to Iowas wealthier citizens who can pay for private schools anyway.
Whether or not it was this was the effect that legislators and the governor expected, it became a reality as private schools across the state raised their tuition fees. Had the so-called individual education savings accounts been able to totally cover tuition before, it is doubtful they will now.
Most poor and middle class families do not have any extra money to be paying any tuition. Thus their dreams of escaping an envisioned failing public school system (as painted by far right wing MAGA politicians around the country) for a much better private school system has been bashed as the private schools have raised tuitions once again out of the reach of those that the far right claimed this bill would help.
Let me point out that in Iowa while the right has done what it could to starve the public school system, it is still robust in Iowa. It is nothing like right wing media describes it. Nor are private schools all better than any public school. Also do not forget that private schools do not answer to a school board or any public. They answer to a board of directors as any business does.
Having said all that, by raising tuitions, private schools once again priced themselves above he poor and middle class. Thus private schools will be the home of the progeny of the wealthy. Thanks to the voucher bill passed by the legislature last January and promptly signed by the governor, those wealthy will have some portion of their school costs underwritten by taxpayers that did not underwrite those costs last year.
Gee, who could have seen that coming? Well, most Iowans among others.
A huge thanks here to iowastartingline.com for putting some real numbers on the discussion of tuitions. Without that the discussion is esoteric. So what did ISL find for actual tuitions? Here we go:
Starting Line examined dozens of Iowa private school websites, school board minutes, brochures, annual reports, recruiting materials, and other publicly available resources to find and compare high school* tuition rates for the 2022-23* and 2023-24 school years, the latter being when the vouchers kick in. And just as a reminder, private schools are private businesses, so even with public funding, they are not required to adhere to the same transparency standards as public schools, so the availability of data will vary by school. *unless otherwise noted.
Here’s what we found:
Bishop Heelan High School in Sioux City: 2022-2023 tuition rate, $7,980**. 2023-24 tuition rate, $9,900** ($7,600 state voucher plus $2,300). A 24% increase. **Bishop Heelan waives additional fees for non-parish members or non-Catholics who pay the full tuition rate.
Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines: 2022-23 tuition rates: $9,132 for parish families and $12,776 for non-parish families. 2023-24 tuition rates: $9,588 for parish families and $13,416 for non-parish families. A 5% increase for non-parish families and a 4.9% increase for parish families.
Des Moines Christian School: 2022-23 tuition rate: $11,236. 2023-24 tuition rate: $12,360. A 10% increase. These rates are only for full-time, domestic students and do not include additional fees.
Much more at the link. It is eye opening and well worth a look.
So here we go again. The extreme right sells us a bill of goods that they claim is an improvement. Yet in reality it is a bill that does 2 things:
- Dismantles the one proud public school system in Iowa and
- Moves money from the poor to the rich using government as the toll to do this.
One other quick comment. This is also a scheme to pass public money to religious institutions which sure smells like a violation of the first amendment.
Gee, what a surprise.