Letter to the editor: School choice fine only if fair, reader says

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To the editor:

I am becoming more and more disturbed as I read news columns and hear advertisements on TV about the benefits of funding school choice options with tax payers’ money. The concept of competition to improve service is a sound one, but the competition must be fair.

Can a parent walk into a private or charter school with their educational voucher and be guaranteed the school will accept their child with no further payment? Can a parent be guaranteed the school will accept their voucher despite any disability the child might have?

If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” then the idea of fair competition falls short. And if a competition isn’t fair, the losers are almost always predetermined.

There are various studies that cite the success of charter and private schools. I cannot take these studies seriously if the schools they encompass have a choice about the students they accept.

This is not to say there isn’t room for improvement in public schools — I have friends and family members involved in teaching who are frustrated by many factors that negatively affect their classrooms. But the answer to improving public schools is not to prop up other schools that are not bound by the same rules, regulations and accountability standards.

That is setting up our public schools to fail.

I am not anti-private school. My husband and I sent our children to our parish’s small Catholic school and sacrificed to pay the tuition along with working fundraisers to support the school and contributing to parish funds through monthly donations. All the while, our tax dollars continued to support Perry’s public education system, as they should.

Iowa used to be the state with a strong commitment to public education so all children had equal access to a good education. If that is tossed aside, it will be a sad thing.

Monica Sexton Peitz
Perry

3 COMMENTS

  1. Half the reason public schools are failing is because of lack of adequate support. The voucher system engenders a form of educational apartheid. Those unable to afford tuition for private schools will be doomed to having an inferior education in increasingly dysfunctional public schools.

  2. Thank you for a very real look at how the proposed voucher legislation could negatively harm Iowa public schools. As a school board member in eastern Iowa, I am proud that Iowa’s public schools have a responsibility to educate ALL children, but I can attest that money that will inevitably be pulled from the current bucket of funds will only make it more difficult to provide a quality education if this legislation moves forward. Funds are already tight for every public school district in Iowa, especially rural ones. If these continue to decrease, we will see fewer programs being offered for our students and class sizes increase.

    I started my public school education in Perry, and my mom was a teacher in the district for years. After moving out of state for a few years post-college, I returned to raise my family in a state known for public education. I hope legislators start to hear the public’s voices and protect the great asset we have in our public school system and schools like Perry!

  3. School choice means school choice. A person should be able to take the tax dollars they pay and go to the school of their choice, period. If some schools fail because this idea enacted would cause drops in enrollment, my question is, what was the real reason people left those schools in favor of others for their children? It is long past time for the citizens of this country to care enough about the country to leave government out of the issues that do not concern the government, because let’s face it, the real issue is less about fairness in education and more about who decides where tax money goes. Don’t you think you can make better decisions for your family’s money than a government at any level when it comes to education for your own kids? If not, we are much worse off than I thought.

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