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Letter to the Editor Steffes 1/24/2023

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To the Editor:

School choice is not new in Iowa. It’s been around for quite some time via open enrollment. Public school families have open-enrolled in another public school district, and yet the sky hasn’t fallen for Iowa schools. More school choice for Iowans is healthy and will mean improved educational settings and schools for all children.

Kuemper has provided important tax relief for decades, saving millions of dollars every year by not burdening Carroll taxpayers the bill of educating 1,100 more students. Furthermore, nonpublic schools like Kuemper have similar standards as public schools such as licensed teachers and state standardized testing. Through the years, Kuemper’s student population has required more diverse academic supports and programs. Accepting more special-education students is a desirable goal at Kuemper and would be possible with more equitable funding, resources and stronger school choice programs. Don’t pit Iowa schools against each other. Instead, empower parents to choose the best school for their children and let funding follow the child in an enterprising way.

No one wants nonpublic schools to be only for the wealthy. School choice has become a social justice and civil rights issue. Is it healthy to have government force families, especially low-income families, to attend a school based on ZIP code? Of course not.

More than 30,000 students already have education savings accounts in eight states. Their public school systems have not experienced drastic declines in enrollment or funding; in fact, states with school choice programs have all increased their public school spending in the years since the programs began.

The truest form of accountability is choice. Parents choose to send their child to a nonpublic school, and they can also choose to leave that school if it is not working. Nonpublic schools cannot meet the needs of every student. It is also true that not every student can be served in every public school building. But every student needs to be served. This is ultimately about parents knowing what is best for their children ... not me, not you, not the public school administrator, not the teachers, not legislators.

Get the facts, and contact your legislator to support school choice, ESAs and improving schools for all.

John Steffes

Kuemper Catholic School President

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