We all know a teacher who has greatly influenced our life, but sadly faith in public education is eroding. A Gallop poll found that in 2019 only 29 percent of Americans were confident in the public-school system. Increasingly, public schools are embracing and teaching questionable ideologies, such as The New York Times 1619 Project, which redefines the American Founding as based upon racism and slavery.
Almost everyone agrees that education is a priority. The Iowa Department of Education provides $16,314 per student (preK-12), which is $326,280 for a class of 20 students. If education is a priority, then it should not be controversial that taxpayer dollars follow the student. This is where Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) come in as a commonsense solution that will not only empower parents with a choice for their child’s education but also create competition within Iowa’s educational system. ESA's will also save taxpayer's dollars.
ESAs allow dollars to follow the student to the school of choice. The design and dollar amount of ESAs can vary. The funding of ESAs can either be based on public (tax dollars) or private dollars (tax credit scholarship). ESAs can be universal, tailored to families with lower incomes, or to families with children who have disabilities. Recently, a mother testified before an Iowa legislative subcommittee hearing on ESAs and emotionally stated that her “public school does not offer my child what he needs, and I can’t afford anything else.”
An ESA would help this mother, and others like her, find the best education and more opportunity for her child. ESA results across the country are showing better student outcomes. In fact, ESAs are proving especially beneficial in providing choices to lower income parents, regardless if they live in an inner city or rural area.
ESA’s use money more wisely. A Kennesaw State University study found that from 1992-2014 real education spending in public schools has increased by 27%, while teacher salaries have decreased by 2%. ESA’s do not waste dollars on bloated bureaucratic systems, which leaves more dollars for good teachers.
The coronavirus pandemic is a lesson on the need for ESAs. Schools were forced to close because of the virus, and parents became the primary educators. An ESA would help parents pay for online education as well as other educational services.
Taxpayers are paying for education through their taxes and parents should be allowed to utilize those dollars for the best possible educational outcome. An argument is often made that taxpayer dollars cannot be used for private education, but this is not valid. Public taxpayer dollars are often used for private purposes such as food stamps, Pell Grants, G.I. Bill, and Medicaid.
It's time to give parents another option besides the one size fits all government monopoly and empower them with the opportunities that ESAs provide.