Iowans speak for and against School Voucher Bill at public hearing

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 10:15 PM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - Tuesday night, so many people wanted to weigh in on the controversial School Voucher legislation that they couldn’t all fit in the hearing room at the state capitol.

And hundreds more submitted online comments. This change would use more than 340 million dollars annually for parents to send their children to private schools. Using public tax dollars for private education is proving to be a contentious plan.

Both sides of the issue were equally represented - but only a fraction of those who wanted a turn at the mic got one Tuesday.

Those in support of the bill say this gives parents more options to choose an education that best meets their kids’ needs. Some children even spoke in the hearing saying they appreciated having a school that taught through a Christian perspective.

Those who oppose the bill described how private schools don’t have to follow the same rules as public schools. And that the plan is inherently unfair since many private schools don’t have the staff to meet the needs of students with disabilities.

”The reality is, is that private schools will not accept my son because of his disabilities. They pick and choose which students they will educate. They have every right to do that, but if they begin to receive tax dollars then they should be held to the same standards as public schools,” said Kerry Lust, a parent against vouchers.

“It is this state government’s responsibility to ensure every school has everything it needs to educate every child that is your job. Not designing a system by which you can abdicate that responsibility and then and then allow a select few a way out,” said David Dubczak, a teacher against vouchers.

Those who support the bill included parents and leaders with private schools. Many emphasized the program would put children’s education back into the hands of the parents.

“Parents want a voice and they want a choice. They want to be heard and they want their children to have the opportunity to an education that aligns with their family’s values,” said Oliver Bradwell, for voucher bill.

”I literally get goosebumps when I think of the kids that might receive a chance at a renewed love of learning because they finally and they’re finally in the school that fits them,” said another speaker for the voucher bill.

A similar school voucher bill died last year. Many of the Republican holdouts from last year were in rural communities.

They were concerned that rural public schools would suffer if more tax dollars went to private education.

But many of those lawmakers aren’t voting this time around. Governor Reynolds campaigned against them voters supported those she backed.