Meeting Public Comments

Meeting informations are as follows:
Date: Monday, January 25, 2021
Time: 4:30 PM - 7:30 AM
Location: Law Library
Names and comments are public records. Remaining information is considered a confidential record.
Comments Submitted:

Julie Powell-Mohr []
Voluntary diversity plans work. For example, the Des Moines Public Schools plan allows the district to balance the needs of the student and overall student populationand it still gives students and families choices. Eliminating voluntary diversity plans will put more financial burden on DMPS and the families and businessesthe property taxpayers of DMPS. We know what that means for students and teachers and the district. Districts with diversity plans like DMPS can meet the needs of students and families and also generate workforce for companies within the district. We should have a vested interest in keeping Des Moines schools vibrant. Voting no on HSB 64 is a win/win decision.Thank you
Jamie Orozco Nagel []
I am very concerned about HSB64 and how it would increase inequities between urban and suburban school districts. I am a parent in the Des Moines school district and I approve of the districts voluntary diversity plan. I was able to open enroll my daughter to pursue a bilingual program not available in Des Moines but I did so knowing that if we werent approved to leave the district, it was for good reason. Keeping upper income families in DMPS schools ensures that neighborhood schools like the one I live next to are of good quality. As social workers we want equity in education. The suggestion that HSB64 promotes equity by allowing all parents to choose to open enroll ignores the reality of who has the means to choose. Low income families are less likely to have the means to transport their children out of their district to attend a better school because open enrollment doesnt come with transportation services. School districts like Des Moines already struggle to provide for a diverse student body and this bill would make things worse. I look to our legislators to seek solutions that serve all Iowa kids, not a select few. Thank you for your consideration.
Amber Ferriss []
I am very concerned about HSB64 and how it would increase inequities! DO Lowincome students matter less than middleclass students in an educational setting? I urge you to vote NO ON HSB64 the volunteer diversity plan works. Under the HSB64, let's call it what it is, a racial divide bill, without actually saying it. Studying the statics, this seems to stand in dividing more in the educational system. PLEASE VOTE NO, WE ARE WATCHING.
Alissa Philipp []
I would be against this bill anyway, but as the mother of a discouraged needs child I am strongly against this bill. Public money should be for public schools. Until private schools are held to the same standards as public schools and aren't legally allowed to discriminate against my son, they should not receive public money.
Jeff Cue []
Student First scholarships are vouchers. Plain and simple. Unlike a true savings account, parents do not open the account and put in their own money. The proposal gives selected parents a taxpayerfunded debit card loaded with state taxpayer dollars to use however they wish. We agree that parents should have the choice to enroll their child in a private or religious school. But not with public taxpayer funds.Use public dollars for public schools. Period. The publics investment should be used to support public community schools which are open to all students regardless of race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status and disability, not for a new entitlement program for parents who choose private education. Public funds require public accountability and transparency. Public schools are overseen by a publicly elected citizen governing board, are required to report academic results to the general public, have an annual public financial audit, and be transparent with all expenditures and decisionmaking. Private and religious schools are not held to that same public standard. Taxpayers have a right to know how their funds are being used, but are left in the dark about the use and impact of voucher funds.It's a slippery slope toward a costly and expansive voucher program: This voucher program may start small, but as we've seen in other states, once a program is established, it is easy to expand. This will pull more resources away from public schools.
Marisa Keeney []
I strongly oppose this bill. Tax dollars should be used for public education with the oversight that is present for public schools. Tax payers elect school boards to be stewards of our tax dollars & these moneys should not be funneled to private schools or other entities. Iowa needs to invest in and commit its resources to insuring public schools have the resources to meet the needs of the children of our state. All children from all racial, socioeconomic and ability groups deserve the best educational opportunity we can provide. Private schools do not meet the needs of all these groups but serve only a small subset. Many areas dont even have private options & most private options are not equipped or willing to meet the needs of all diverse groups.
Stacy Stangl []
Im very against this bill. I am Catholic and In my town I can the choice of public or private and we chose public. One of the reasons is my son is autistic and has an IEP. And the public school has to do the IEPS of kids in the private Catholic school and private school does not have to abide to the same standards so my child would not have succeeded as well as he had if it wasnt for the public school system. And this bill will funnel the necessary funds away from the public schools. The constitution says there has to be separation of church and state. And until that changes or if private schools start to abide to all the rules that public schools do then no way do they deserve my money. No way!! This law will hurt so many schools. Iowa may never recover.
Kathryn Hoyt []
I have 4 children in public school (North Scott Community School District) and strongly oppose this bill. As Dr. Kate Parks stated in this morning's Zoom call: 1. We need to be clear about which parents will have choice and who will be left behind. Voucher programs and school choice increase racial and economic segregation in schools. Schools, especially private schools and also private charters, get to choose who they enroll and who they reject. So this is not an equal choice. Not every parent will get to choose and schools can deny admission to their kids.2. What we really need and what is best for all kids is funding public education. This has the biggest impact on the most kids. As others said, over 90% of families choose public education. This bill will spend tax payer dollars for the 10% who want private education.3. This bill also removes local control from school boards. It reverses voluntary diversity plans that a few districts utilize to ensure greater integration in their schools.4. It is a onesized fits all bill because it doesnt account for the different kinds of students and the different needs they have in our districts. Urban districts have different challenges and needs than rural districts. 5. Ultimately defunding public schools takes away choice for parents who choose for their kids a high quality and diverse public education.Please vote no on SSB 1065. Iowa's kids are depending on you to do what's in their best interest.
Steve Brannan []
We believe that public school funding is for public schools only. If public school funds are used for private schools, this will directly hurt the larger inter city schools and smaller rural school districts. If public school funds are provided to private schools, the private school should have to meet ALL standards that public schools are required to meet. If this bill passes, does this mean that we are now going to fund religion curriculum in private schools?
Kate Hargrafen []
The voucher bill proposed by the Governor is made to harm public schools. Public funds should be used for public schools. The proposed bill will benefit few and impair many! Please vote NO to the voucher bill. Support Iowa public schools!
Theresa Weaver-Basye []
Regarding SSB 1065:I am strongly opposed to spending public dollars on private schools. School choice exists = parents can choose private or home schools for their children. As a parent I see the challenges for public schools, including an inequitable funding formula and state funding that has lagged for a decade. Our students (our communities) are facing increasing socioeconomic struggles. Public schools teach all students, and speaking with staff and administration will give you a understanding of their struggle. Do not support siphoning existing funds. Public funds for public schools.
Theresa Jackson [Public School Teacher and Parent]
Please do not pass this harmful bill! This bill would hurt all the public schools in Iowa. Public schools serve everyone. The states that have passed a bill like this one rank much lower in education than Iowa. Why would we mess with being ranked #6? Fully fund public education and see us grow to #1. Please support public schools and keep them strong.
Alicia Coleman []
This bill is very problematic. First, vouchers (the students first scholarships) essentially serve to take public tax dollars from public schools and pass that money off to private organizations. Funding the work of private organizations is not the purpose of taxes. The purpose of taxes is to fund services and infrastructure that promote the public good. A second issue with these "scholarships" is that the money will primarily be going to fund religious based education. While I agree parents have every right to choose this type of education for their child, I do not believe it is the place of the government to spend public dollars to provide religious education. As almost all private schools are religionbased, this would be a violation of the separation between religion and government that is fundamental to our freedom as Americans. Another reason that vouchers are problematic is that they will not fix the issues that public schools face. The reality is that public schools are underfunded and understaffed. Taking dollars away from our schools will not fix this problem. In fact, it will make it worse because we will have a smaller pot of money to spend. One of the few proven ways to improve educational outcomes across all demographics is to reduce class size. This has been proven over and over in the research. This only happens when we have the money to pay for highly trained staff.
Doreen Underwood []
I am strongly opposed to the bill. Tax dollars should not flow to schools that do not have the same equity and accountability as our public schools. Tax dollars should not fund private schools that can turn students away based on disability or religious beliefs.
I'm opposed to using tax money to provide vouchers for private or charter schools. Public money should stay with public schools. Private schools don't have to take all students and don't have to follow the same rules as public schools. This bill will shortchange public school even further than it has been. Please vote NO!
Brittania Morey [Linn-Mar Community School District - Board of Education]
I would like to state my opposition to the bill requiring 100% face to face. A state mandate does not take into account the differences in our school districts. Urban districts face different challenges when it comes to full facetoface education. LinnMar high school has 2,200 students enrolled. We have been in hybrid model since Fall and at half capacity the building still struggles to maintain social distancing. For a single period in November we had to go 100% virtual because we did not have adequate staffing, not just teachers but bus drives, nutrition staff. Local control on this matter is vital. Each district and its board should be the ones making the decisions about the safety of students and staff. Until staff are vaccinated, both doses, it is unsafe in some districts in this state to bring more students back face to face. I would also like to state my opposition to the bill outlining vouchers and charter schools. In short, public funds should support public schools. Public funds should not go to private entities that do not provide equitable opportunities or transparency in the use of public funding. Iowa has open enrollment. Families already have choice. Taking away additional funds from districts hurts Iowa schools, communities, and students. Public funds should be reinvested in our public school system.Thank you.
Margaret Buckton [Urban Education Network]
See attached UEN Issue Brief regarding diversity plans and open enrollment. UEN is opposed to HSB 64. The Diversity plans work to create the kind of schools that will educate a diverse workforce and help Iowa's urban centers thrive. Without them, our schools in these 5 districts, Davenport, Des Moines, Postville, West Liberty, and Waterloo, will grow less diverse and segregated, creating unequal educational opportunities for Iowa's neediest students.
Rebecca Fitzgerald []
I strongly oppose any use of tax payer dollars for private schools. The proposed bill is a voucher program. Public dollars are for public schools. Voucher DO NOT improve academic outcomes. Vouchers DO NOT increase opportunities for disadvantaged students. Private schools are not nearly as efficient with their funds as public schools, openly practice discriminatory employment terms, and are not held to the same standards as public schools. Vouchers do not create choice, parents already have choice they can send their children to public schools OR pay for private schools on their own dime.