As a parent of three children who attend public school here in Iowa, I've been listening to the news of Iowa's new private school assistance bill. It officially became the law of the land yesterday as Governor Kim Reynolds signed the Republican-backed plan. The new law will take public money and help parents pay for their kids to attend private schools. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that once fully implemented, the plan will cost $345 million per year.

Hearing the details about this new law concerns me as a parent. Public school districts get money based on the number of students enrolled. If those numbers drop drastically, so will funding. This could really hurt small, rural districts whose numbers continue to dwindle. Critics also question using taxpayer money to pay for private schools that are not held to the same reporting requirements as public schools, according to the Gazette. Others complain that while the bill has income limits to start, when fully implemented families of any income level can take advantage of this plan.

I'm not sure anyone on either side of the issue can with any certainty tell you how this new program will shake out in the next three to four years. But as a parent, and a taxpayer, I have a hard time believing this will benefit our public school system in the long run. I'm old enough to remember when the state of Iowa was known for its amazing public schools. But now it seems as if the cards are continually being stacked against administrators and teachers trying to teach our children.

Instead of helping more kids go to private schools, why not boost teacher pay, expand pre-K access, raise public school funding, or help subsidize public college tuition? Maybe I'm overreacting. Perhaps the math will work out in the end. But I fear for the future of our public schools.

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