The dismantling of public education: Gary’s in trouble – News Block

Once upon a time, Iowa was ranked at or near the top in student achievement. Today, some evaluations place us in the middle and falling. Iowa Republican lawmakers believe it is the public schools and teachers who are to blame for not holding themselves and students to the highest standards.

However, if we use a modicum of logic, we should ask how a system that was once the envy of the nation is responsible for such a lapse. Why shouldn’t we instead look at what has changed? And what has changed is the budget that leaves Iowa schools 2 percent short, compounded year-over-year, of what they need to compete.

Funding for education relative to the Iowa economy has experienced a steady decline. When our system prospered, we saw about 4 percent of the state’s GDP dedicated to funding K-12 education. Today, it is less than 2.5 percent. From fiscal years 2008 to 2016, 33 other states increased funding per student, while Iowa saw a 6 percent decrease in funding per student in that period.

This year, however, Iowa Republicans have proposed a 2.5% spending increase. Democrats argue that it is woefully short given the compounding deficit and inflation and that the new bill diverts even more money from public schools to private school scholarships. In 4 or 5 years billions of dollars will have been diverted.

“Giving parents more choice for their children” is such a warm comment that they have come to believe it themselves, but this is ultimately a political process to diminish public schools.

Republicans know that parochial education will indoctrinate students with conservative values ​​which, in turn, will perpetuate their political future. They also believe that the classical disciplines of public education promote liberal doctrine. This is an ideological issue, pure and simple. It is not about a better education.

Vouchers are being presented to parents as a vehicle to choose schools, private or parochial schools if they prefer. And by creating school “markets”, bad schools will be forced to close.

That is a concept with some merit if education is classified as “goods and services.” It’s a terrible idea if it’s not. And education should never be so objectified.

A child’s education is not up to par with an appliance brand where it’s good for the market to push out those that don’t meet consumer demands. When we write off any child for not supporting our public education system, more schools will fail, more students will fail, jobs will be lost, and communities will fall apart.

Education writer Peter Schrag claims that vouchers are “the beginning of a slippery slope in which the poor are simply the poster children in a process that will gradually erode support for all public education.”

Ultimately, the only “option” will be for private schools, as they select the most promising public school students. A coupon system will encourage economic, racial, ethnic, and religious stratification.

The National Education Association supports adequate funding to improve public schools. We need to help struggling schools, not close them, if we want to improve our standards and results.

Vouchers can be part of the educational paradigm; however, they are only viable if our public school system is adequately funded to provide equal opportunities for all children to learn. That should be the renewed promise of an Iowa education.

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