Why Should Iowa Support School Choice?

School Choice means creating programs that empower PARENTS to choose the K-12 educational options best suited for their children. These services include public school, private school, charter schools, home school or any other learning environment a parent chooses for their child(ren).  School choice empowers parents to act in the best interest of their child’s educational future without the limitations of income or zip code.  

Click to enlarge resources:

What is School Choice?

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Choice During a Pandemic

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STO Tax Credit Program

Iowans Support School Choice

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ESAs and Why We Need Them

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Iowa K-12 Education Funding

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Schriver_Korrin
Korrin Schriver
Wahlert Catholic High School Science Teacher
February 2021 Telegraph Herald Letter to the Editor

School choice an issue of social justice

"There have been many voices, shouting loudly, about how the Student First Scholarship proposal will negatively impact public education, however, voices for students have been strangely quiet. As a science teacher, I feel it is critical to look at the evidence, setting aside our biases and prejudices, until we have information from all angles.
"Those that oppose SF 159 have been very vocal and I want to bring a voice to students/parents in need. As a former Milwaukee School Choice teacher, I have seen firsthand the impact that school choice can have on parents and students. Students that benefit the most are those of lower socioeconomic status making this, in my mind, a social justice issue. Parents with means can send their children to any school they wish, however, parents that struggle to get by do not have that option. They must send their children to the school in their district, but what if that school does not fit their child or child’s needs? Why do these parents not have a choice?
"If we truly wish to give every student “their best chance at life”, they should have a say where they attend school. Consider reviewing the Institute of Justice’s report on the impacts of school choice and reviewing the research before judging what impact SF 159 might have on the education system in Iowa. Or reach out to those that have lived the impact and ask them to tell their story. This is about choice, not force."

How can you help? Take Action!

Stay tuned for School Choice Action Alerts, petitions and other opportunities to share your voice.

Recent School Choice Communications:

Dear families and Catholic school supporters,

I am asking for each of you to take a few minutes to respond to this important legislative action alert through the Iowa Catholic Conference or by contacting your House Representative directly via phone or email.  As you likely know, the governor's education bill passed through the Senate this week and has garnered significant attention.  This bill would increase your tuition tax credit from $250 per year to $1000.   It would also offer scholarships for a limited number of students.

Thank you for reaching out to our Senators last week, now we need to reach out to our House Representatives.  Please see the details below for more information.  It is very important that legislators hear from our nonpublic school parents!

Thank you for taking a few minutes for this important task.

Yours in Christ,

Phil Bormann
Chief Administrator


From Iowa Catholic Conference:

The Senate has passed Governor Reynolds’ education reform bill, Senate File 159, and sent it to the House. Please contact your member of the Iowa House in support of expanding opportunities for families by clicking here: Tell your representative you support parental choice in education

Among the provisions of interest in the legislation:

  • “Student First” scholarships (Education Savings Accounts) that parents of students who attend a public school classified as “in need of comprehensive support” could receive to transfer their child to a nonpublic school if they chose to do so.
  • An increase in the tuition and textbook tax credit. The tax credit is available to both public and nonpublic school families. Most private school families would see an increase from $250 currently to $1,000 per child.

We would like the governor’s proposal expanded to help some of our current students in Catholic schools who have been as affected by the pandemic as anyone else, rather than tying a scholarship to a particular residential area.

Parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children, so we believe parents have a right, in justice, to access some of their tax dollars to help them exercise that duty.

Thank you for your help!

“Consequently, the public power, which has the obligation to protect and defend the rights of citizens, must see to it, in its concern for distributive justice, that public subsidies are paid out in such a way that parents are truly free to choose according to their conscience the schools they want for their children.”

Declaration on Christian Education (Gravissimum Educationis), Pope Paul VI

Dear families and Catholic school supporters,

I am asking that you contact your legislators to express support for SF 159.  Two areas of particular interest include:

DIVISION I
Establishes “Students First” scholarships. Similar to ESAs, available to students who currently attend a “failing” public school building. We estimate this would be about 34 schools in Iowa, including some in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Dubuque, Marshalltown, and Waterloo.

Some might want to support this as a good start to explore Educational Savings Accounts, some might express concern that it still ties a parent's ability to choose an appropriate education for their children to their zip code, some might express concern that it only impacts a relatively small group of current public school families and doesn't assist current families who have already chosen and made sacrifices to attend one of our nonpublic schools.  

DIVISION V
Expands the tuition and textbook tax credit from 25% of the first $1,000 spent on tuition and textbook expenses to 50% of the first $2,000. The tax credit is made refundable. In a new provision, teachers can deduct certain expenses related to education, not to exceed $500.

There are many positive aspects of this proposal for parents and teachers.  The current 25% of the first $1000 spent on tuition has been in play for many years with no increases.  We also want to support our teachers who purchase needed classroom supplies with their own money.

This bill passed through the Senate Education Subcommittee yesterday with a vote of 2-1 and passed the full Senate Education Committee with a vote of 8-7.  It will be discussed at a Ways and Means meeting today and it is very important that we have parents and Catholic school supporters give feedback to their legislators.  For those interested in hearing more about the bill, listen to this recording and in particular, listen to the 10-minute summary given by the Education Chair which begins at 4:11.

Click here to submit an action alert through the Iowa Catholic Conference or feel free to call/email your legislators directly.  

Yours in Christ,

Phil Bormann
Chief Administrator


 

From Iowa Catholic Conference:

The Senate Education Committee has passed Governor Reynolds’ education reform bill. Now’s the time to contact your Senator in support of parental choice in education.

Among the provisions in the legislation:

  • “Students First” scholarships (similar to Education Savings Accounts) that parents of students who attend a public school classified as “in need of comprehensive support” could receive a scholarship to transfer their child to a nonpublic school if they chose to do so.
  • An increase in the tuition and textbook tax credit. The tax credit is available to both public and nonpublic school families. Most private school families would see an increase from $250 currently to $1,000 per child.
  • Tax credit for certain expenses for teachers
  • Establishment of charter schools
  • Makes it easier for parents to transfer their public school students to a different public school district
  • It is important to look at this bill first from the perspective of parents and students, not institutions. We appreciate the governor’s Students First scholarship proposal as a starting point to help some families choose the educational option that best fits their student’s unique needs.

We encourage you to contact your Senator in support of a scholarship program that would be accessible to as many parents as possible. Rewrite the sample message in your own words and keep your comments positive.

Thank you for your help!

“Consequently, the public power, which has the obligation to protect and defend the rights of citizens, must see to it, in its concern for distributive justice, that public subsidies are paid out in such a way that parents are truly free to choose according to their conscience the schools they want for their children.”

Declaration on Christian Education (Gravissimum Educationis), Pope Paul VI

 

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/9Hhx49QizU0xGJsu1qTc-A

More Resources:

Links may lead to another organization’s website or a PDF file. These resources are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement by Holy Family Catholic Schools.