Iowa public school advocates must be single-issue voters

Voting stickers are seen at combined polling stations 23 and 36 of the Harris Building in Linn County in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

It’s no secret that single-issue voters are loud, proud and powerful. They fuel the campaigns with rhetoric and resources. When choosing candidates, they focus on the long term, and perfection does not stop possible.

This is how America woke up to find Donald Trump as President, and now a Supreme Court willing to ignore 49 years of precedent by returning to the days when women had few rights and only landowners, white men mattered.

Throughout my professional career, I’ve heard educators say, “Yes, public education is important, but it’s not the only problem.

There have been many excuses for not prioritizing education. They sound something like that. “My church says ___________, and I go to Sunday school with these people.”

“You know, my husband has a lot of guns for hunting, and he thinks ____________.”

“I really don’t like politics. I just want to be in my classroom with my kids and teach”

“Politics are alike. The party doesn’t matter. They all lie.

But those excuses are becoming lame, as Iowa’s education foundation crumbles and dedicated and talented educators rush for releases.

I realize that this is not a problem that educators can solve alone. This is a community crisis, so it needs a community solution. Anyone, regardless of party, who wants to protect their community school needs to become a loud, proud, one-issue voter before it’s too late.

There is nothing wrong with choosing a private school. But if I choose to join a private club to play golf instead of using the public course, will my neighbor have to pay for my choice? I do not think so.

Public school supporters must be at least as persistent and passionate as our one-issue private school governor. She has shown her true commitment to private schools in three public ways.

First, she forced the Legislature to work three weeks of overtime so she could twist some rural Republican arms to force them to choose private schools over public and vote for her school voucher program. . It did not work.

Then she visited public school superintendents hoping to stun them enough of her rotation to publicly support the good ones, even though the plan would steal much-needed money from the underfunded schools they represent. It’s a bit like an unarmed thief who asks the president of the bank to open the safe and give him the money. It did not work.

Eventually, when these moves failed, she decided to impose her will on her party by getting directly involved in some Iowa House races where the incumbent representative refused to bow.

Voters shouldn’t allow that to work either.

This kind of hardball hasn’t been played by an Iowa governor in modern history, but it shows three things. It shows how committed she is to helping private schools, how powerful she thinks she is, and how much she learned from Trump.

If Reynolds is successful in her re-election campaign, she will take another push to revamp her voucher plan. Even without a crystal ball, I predicted that the third review will be worse than the other two combined, because to pass it, it will have to expand who qualifies. She will also have to appease rural legislators where there are no private schools within driving distance.

So to sweeten his plan just enough for 51 votes, I predict, homeschoolers will miraculously become qualified for the voucher. It means less standards, less accountability and more public money spent on a new private right that will never go away and only grow.

Remember, the best way to stop a bad politician is when good people vote. Public schools and our future are on the ballot.

Bruce Lear of Sioux City taught for 11 years and represented educators as regional director of the Iowa State Education Association for 27 years until his retirement.

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