Fund Iowa Students and Schools, Including Home Students

COVID-19 Pandemic and ‘Critical Race Theory’ Debate Highlight Need for School Choice in Iowa

Students of Marion’s Home School Assistance Program in 2019 (Liz Martin / The Gazette)

During the pandemic, when students were sent home to learn virtually, parents functionally became educators. Keeping kids focused and creating home learning projects inspired parents to create learning modules and exchange home schooling ideas through Facebook groups or blogs.

Many parents have found that home schooling works best for their children and allows them to communicate their family values. Now, out of caution or out of love for home schooling, the national number of home schooled students jumped from 5.4 percent to 11.1 percent. This increase is in part due to the fact that parents in metropolitan areas enroll their children in alternative education programs.

Nationally, public and private schools have received a lot of attention for teaching politically contentious Classes. Public schools delve deeper into complex cultural topics that educators are unfortunately not prepared to navigate or answer questions on. In an era when public schools are under scrutiny to teach critical race theory, although they are now banned in Iowa schools, there is a renewed interest in localizing the education of a child so that parents have more input and supervision.

Public schools are a necessity, but they are not exclusively deserving of education funding from taxpayers

Elon Musk and others SpaceX employees favor a “pod” style of education, popular in Silicon Valley California, to educate their children. Depending on the structure of the module, private tutors are hired to teach a few hours per week on one-to-one lessons or direct activities by parents. Home-school groups in Iowa have similar arrangements. For example, in Cedar Valley, a math teacher from a local college will teach the group of multi-age students twice a week, and other parents of comparable but different talents will lead the other classes.

These home schooling modules or alternative education associations will likely increase in number because the Iowa legislature recently passed a bill (HF 813) authorizing applications to charter schools go straight to the Ministry of Education rather than to the local school board. Teachers and supporters of public schools, which largely constitute local school boards, have obvious incentives to keep students enrolled in public schools, as federal and state funding tracks the number of students enrolled in each school. The state has removed any temptation for public school boards to cancel applications for charter schools, their competition, by directing applications to the state.

A smoother path to establishing charter schools was a smart move, but why stop there? Per Iowa student, $ 11,732 is invested each year in the education of every child. SF 159 proposed creating a “scholarship first for students,” but she died after being passed by the Iowa Senate in January. Parents of eligible students entering kindergarten or currently attending public school may use up to $ 5,720 for certain educational services, including tuition in private schools, online education, educational therapy, tutoring, or future educational expenses. Arizona has established a similar program with its “Scholarship Accounts for Empowerment”. Passing this proposal would allow parents to spend their Students First scholarship on education, but if a parent wants to opt for home schooling, why not give them some of that money for their work?

Public schools are a necessity, but they don’t exclusively deserve education funding from taxpayers when parents, private and charter schools offset the burden of educating Iowa children. Iowa has taken smart action with private education vouchers, charter schools permission, and now our Students First scholarship. We must continue this competitive education trend by empowering homeschooling parents and encouraging the development of alternative education groups that will continue to thrive in our community.

Patricia Patnode is a member of the editorial staff of the Gazette. Comments: [email protected]

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