LTE: Iowans need to speak up for public schools

Iowans who value our community public schools owe a thank you to the Republican members of the Iowa House of Representatives who took the heat and stood together with their Democratic colleagues to block Governor Reynolds’ attempt to take our tax dollars from our schools for private school scholarships.  These representatives understand that Iowa’s commitment to our community public schools is fundamental.  Our first permanent state constitution provided that Iowans “shall provide for the education of all youths of the State, through a system of Common Schools.”  Our public schools are cornerstones of Iowa communities.  These Republican representatives’ political courage proved costly.  Governor Reynolds personally campaigned to defeat a number of them in the June primary.

​The COVID-19 pandemic was challenging for everyone involved in education – students, teachers, parents, and administrators.  No one had direct experience in finding the right balance between health and safety and meeting the students’ educational needs.  Iowa’s professional educators did everything possible to find that balance.  Teachers, who had put enormous effort into adopting new remote learning technology, were thrilled when they could be back in the classroom with their students.  That’s where they wanted to be.

​Gov. Reynolds and her political allies saw the stress created by the pandemic as their opportunity to advance their radical change in direction.  Their clear intention has been to weaken popular support for our community schools and begin to remove taxpayer funding from public schools.  This is not an Iowa solution to Iowa challenges. This solution is rooted in the Americans for Prosperity group, which identified “school choice” as one of the key means of battling socialism in a nationwide effort funded primarily by out-of-state billionaires.

​Iowa has already adopted several of this group’s proposals to implement “school choice”; taxpayer-funded charter schools not under local school district control are now permitted.  Most restrictions on open enrollment have been removed.  However, the top policy goal identified by Americans for Prosperity to fully power their vision of “school choice” is a universal voucher program.  Taking those dollars away from our community public schools would make it much harder to provide the quality of education we want for our and our neighbors’ children.

​Those out-of-state billionaires who form the core of the Americans for Prosperity centered network have an ideological ax to grind.  They don’t care about Iowa kids or schools or communities.  Iowans need to insist that the people we elect to represent us in Des Moines are committed to our values, not theirs.

Al Charlson




Parkersburg Eclipse News-Review

503 Coates St.
Parkersburg, IA 50665
Phone:  319-346-1461

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