Letter to the Editor: Submitted by Kathy Hannum

To the Editor:

The familiar yellow school buses have appeared as a happy harbinger of cool fall days and cyclical routine. As a lifelong Iowan and retired educator, it also symbolizes the education system that for many years was a source of pride as a leader in the nation.

Unfortunately, this year those buses remind us of a public school system that has been undermined by our state officials. For the first time a huge chunk of money ($133.5 - $221 million of your tax dollars) is being taken from the Iowa general fund to support private schools. These primarily religious schools are not available for many in our state.

Parental Rights is a misnomer. There is no oversight or state requirements for these schools to meet and the money is handled by a for-profit, out-of-state entity. This new system is only for parents and students who have options close by and certainly not for the students and parents who remain in the public system.

State school funding is a complicated system. It is primarily based on enrollment or per student funding. For years it has not kept up with inflation, resulting in schools struggling to meet the needs of all of students, including mentally and physically disabled. The General Fund is already being undercut by the huge tax cuts that have been enacted to benefit the wealthy. Our scarce tax dollars should not be diverted from the noble goal of public education.

With tax cuts and the cost of funding private schools, our already struggling public schools are being set up for failure. The only hope is to make your vote count for education and reverse this disgrace. Enjoy the sight of those traditional yellow buses but remember to vote responsibly.

Kathy Hannum