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School vouchers wrong

To the editor:
In a glitzy ad campaign, a folksy Governor Kim Reynolds is trying to sell her so-called School Choice plan of tax payer funded “vouchers” so parents can send their kids to private schools.
It is hard to see how the citizens of Ringgold County in the Diagonal and Mount Ayr Community Schools will benefit from a program that diverts $55 million dollars from public schools to private schools.
Here is a little taste of reality for those who voted for Kim Reynolds without realizing what a vote for her means to schools in rural areas.
Recently the Mount Ayr Record News did two stories about the struggles of the Diagonal Community School to stay open due to a shortage of funds. Governor Reynolds has proposed that parents who opt for private schools can receive a voucher of $7,500.
Look at a map of private schools in the state of Iowa and you will learn that 42 of Iowa’s 99 counties do not have any private schools so it’s not really a viable option for us. The closest private school is St. Malacky in Creston but they do not have a high school. And it is a long commute to private high schools like Dowling Catholic in Des Moines, Kuemper in Carroll, Bishop Heelan in Sioux City, St. Alberts in Council Bluffs, or Pella Christian in Pella.
There is a private school in Leon, the Franklin Christian Day school, affiliated with the Mennonites. Most private schools in Iowa are religiously affiliated. Parents do have the right to send their children to private schools that have religious affiliations at their own expense. The governor and the supporters of “school choice” already know what they expect of people in rural school districts without the private school option. They expect you to pay for it.
In her Condition of the State Speech, she outlined the private school scholarships proposal–the $7,598 she wants to make available to each student is the same amount the state allocates for a child in public schools. A Conservative group “Priorities for Iowa,” is paying the six figure sum for Reynold’s to push a program that does not benefit the 90% of Iowa’s students who attend public schools. And with larger Republican majorities in the state legislature, she will probably achieve her number one priority.
Kathryn Gepner

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