group of fresh graduates students throwing their academic hat in the air

School choice solution for an outdated system

We as parents strive for our children to have more opportunities in life than we did. A solid educational foundation provides an avenue to achieve higher education or vocational training. Without essential reading and math skills, students struggle to keep up. Unfortunately, many of our children attend schools that are not succeeding on the same level as others. Iowa’s national educational ranking has fluctuated throughout the last few decades. Lincoln, East, and North High School in Des Moines have been called “drop-out factories.” Parents and students should have options to enter schools committed to academic success.

 

 

Financial status’ allows access to private schools allowing families have control of their children’s educational path. As a result, many parents move to suburban areas seeking better educational opportunities. Ankeny has seen 300-400 new students annually. As a result, families in poverty have limited options for education. Iowa, on average, spends less on students in poverty than its national counterparts and struggles to maintain high school graduation rates in the top ten nationally.

 

 

Competition in school funding will produce a drive within all schools to do better for their students. For example, schools could compete with performance-related benchmarks. High-performing teachers could receive better pay. With no school voucher system, only financially stable families can choose the quality of education their children receive.

 

 

The lack of school options creates unequal opportunities for children. The majority of funding for public schools is property taxes. One would assume more taxes equals better education. However, property taxes are higher in Des Moines than in the rest of the state, including suburban areas. But several schools struggle with literacy and math comprehension rates in Des Moines. If high taxes do not offer achievement, what is the solution? Allowing private schools access to school funding would allow competition in education. Private schools do not have to be driven by religion. Instead, academics can be the focus. A school choice voucher system can allow students to attend schools that may be a better fit. When the current public school funding system isn’t working, how long will it be until there are other options? The options that higher-income families have been able to access for generations. Increasing the gap between the have and have-nots.

Jeni