With the election right around the corner and a lot of focus on our educational system, I think it’s important to bring up the topic of Funding private schools with public dollars. People have dug their heels in on both sides of the issue in the past couple of years. Do we fund Private schools with public dollars, or do we only fund public schools with public dollars? It’s a tale as old as time, but we have to follow the money, and fortunately, we can follow the money pretty easily. Last Thursday night, I was able to attend a candidate forum in Grinnell. The League of Women Voters hosted a fantastic candidate forum, including candidates for both the Iowa House in Iowa Senate. I expected canned responses from both the Republican and Democratic candidates based on their party’s platform and the trail of money provided by lobbyists and other donors that support the issue one way or the other. The one thing that surprised me was when Sarah Smith, candidate for Iowa House, explained that she believes that public money only should fund public schools. Strangely enough, Sarah Smith works for Grinnell College as a Program Director and Outreach Director. The strange part about this is the fact that Grinnell college, her employer, takes money from state taxpayers in the form of the Iowa Tuition grant to fund activities and student tuition at Grinnell College, a very private college. I’m having a hard time believing that voters understand that Miss Smith wants to hamstring parents across Iowa with a lack of choices in educational opportunities for their children but believes that Grinnell College should be afforded taxpayer dollars at the same time.
I believe the rhetoric and social behaviors that are seen becoming more widely accepted across our country should indicate that parents need to have the ultimate choice of where their child receives their education. The funds should follow that child, not in the system.
When you prepare to vote in the November 8th election, I hope you’ll consider the hypocrisy of Sarah Smith’s statements about public education and taxpayer dollars when her employer takes taxpayer dollars in a private college institution but fails to mention that to the public when she wants to remove parental choice and advocacy for parents across Iowa and in her home district. I hope your support Dean Fisher and his views that parents should make choices for their children, not legislators.