Dengler Domain: Rural Schools

Last week the Iowa Senate passed Senate File 2369. A part of this bill would allow some public school students to use some of their per-pupil state funding allocation toward tuition or other educational expenses at a private school. This could hurt public schools and even more so, rural public schools.

Instead of keeping this money in rural communities where they can build the best school district they can with the appropriate amount of funds, this bill in addition to the lack of state funding could negatively impact rural communities. Resulting in further consolidation and those in rural areas traveling farther and farther to receive an education. Leading to hollowed out rural communities and less community spirit. The rural to urban flight will always exist, but this bill could put it on a fast track.

Few private schools exist across rural Iowa. They exist in the larger towns and cities, and if only a few rural school students took this route, and I am no expert, but it could impact a rural school’s financial bottom line. No one should be restricted from obtaining a better education if they can, but if this means tax dollars are going to follow a student, the tax dollars should receive the same treatment as they would if a child open enrolls from one public school to another.

The public deserves to know where their tax dollars go and what they are doing to help the public good. If the public does not have accountability of their tax dollars, this could lead to corruption. Within the first line of the United States Constitution are the words “promote the general Welfare.” The government should do what is best for the public. Taking public tax dollars away from the public to put into private hands is not in the best interest of the general welfare. To promote general welfare, Iowa’s Senate members need to put in the work to help rural public schools and keep the public tax dollars in public schools instead of giving up by shoveling public tax dollars into private schools where there might be no accountability for how these dollars are used. In school, providing a lazy answer never got me a good grade, and unfortunately, those senators who voted for this idea are not going to get a good grade.

Investing in and working with and not against rural public schools is the way Iowa thrives. I enjoyed all my opportunities at North Tama County Community School District as a pupil. I gained a lot of experience and learned a lot about myself by having the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities from sports to the performing arts. This allowed me to figure out what I enjoy most in life. Students at North Tama, Union, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, GMG, and other rural school districts deserve this same opportunity if possible. Unfortunately, this bill could lead to more underfunding of rural public schools and less opportunities for rural Iowa school children. Big cities are great for a plethora of opportunities, but big city schools do not allow for students to be as involved as a student can be at a rural school. Any bill which limits these opportunities is a bad bill for rural public schools and rural Iowa.