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Newspaper: Iowa used public funds for private schools

July 21, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa has spent nearly $500 million in public money in the past decade to support private schools and home school programs, according to a newspaper’s analysis.

The Des Moines Register found that state money goes toward supporting private-school operations through busing assistance, textbook purchases, special education funding and scholarship support. The state also offers a tax credit for those who pay private-school tuition.

The state’s annual spending on nonpublic education grew from about $34 million in 2008 to roughly $53 million in 2018, according to figures from the Legislative Services Agency reviewed by the newspaper.

Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa teachers union, said public schools are hurt when private education gets state money.

“Any increase they receive would come out of the coffers that would be set aside for public schools. We don’t understand why you would be taking money” away from public schools, he said.

Republican Rep. Walt Rogers, chairman of the Iowa House Education Committee, said there’s a growing trend to support people who choose different options.

“I would say that that’s a good thing,” he said. “We want to give as many options for parents and students as we possibly can.”

The state has also provided funds to home-school assistance programs, which pair families with a teacher who provides instructional supervision. The programs can also provide field trips and other resources.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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