We write in support of Iowa Senate File 159. This legislation includes a provision to increase the annual amount of classroom expenditures that all Iowa elementary and secondary school teachers may deduct from their gross income for income tax purposes from the current $250 to $500.
Another positive aspect of this legislation is that the tax credit for textbooks and tuition would increase from $250 to $1,000. This allocation would not decrease public school funding.
Furthermore, this legislation empowers parents to make the best choice for their child’s education.
Parents would not be forced to let their child struggle academically because of geographic or economic restrictions.
Low-income families, single parents, and working-class families living in struggling school districts who cannot afford private education options or afford to relocate to a different school district would be assisted.
Financially, the public school district would no longer bear the cost of educating a child who enrolls at a nonpublic school, which can be significantly higher than the amount of the scholarship. The initial cost of the Educational Savings Accounts is estimated to be less than one-tenth of 1% of the funds the state of Iowa spends on K-12 education. (Less than 3 million out of 3 billion.)
Public funds often are channeled through private institutions to serve the public: health care, social services, construction. Those institutions that do so effectively should be supported.
Iowa’s nonpublic schools undergo a rigorous process to become accredited by the Iowa Department of Education or by an independent, national accrediting agency approved by the State of Iowa. Iowa’s nonpublic schools follow the Iowa Civil Rights Code. Teachers in Iowa’s accredited nonpublic schools must be licensed by the state Board of Educational Examiners. Iowa’s nonpublic schools are — perhaps most importantly — accountable to the parents who make significant sacrifices and entrust their children to them.
School choice programs have repeatedly been found Constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.