Both governors of Iowa and Illinois celebrate their inaugurations to new terms in office. Both also highlighted their priorities this week. Both are focused on education, in very different ways.
We talk about that with Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann and Sheri Carnahan, second vice chair of the Scott County Democratic Party.
We’ll start in Iowa where Gov. Kim Reynolds and Republicans are wasting no time getting to work on her latest push to create a private-school voucher program. It failed the last two years.
The governor tweaked her plan a little in this latest version. She wants to create education savings accounts that would provide about $7,600 a year for students in public schools to go to private schools.
And it would be available for kids already in private schools with priorities for low-income families on a phased-in basis.
That $7,600 amount is what the state spends on every student in public schools right now. It would go to students who make the switch instead of their local school district.
Opponents have a few concerns: that private schools might not be held accountable for what they teach while getting taxpayer money.; that everyone is eligible no matter their income level; that a lot of families in rural areas couldn’t take advantage of it because they don’t live close to private schools; and that it would come at the expense of public schools.
“If there’s some give and take, yes, I think there’s some middle ground,” Kaufmann said. “She clearly has expanded what she wants to do with the program …. She’s been very transparent about this.”
“Public schools are an economic development tool, in my opinion,” Carnahan said. “And if we don’t have strong and stable public schools, we’re going to continue to lose young families.”
To hear more from our panel, click on the video.
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