Tonight we debated HF535, the Governor’s voucher plan for preschool. The bill passed on party lines. I am especially disappointed that this House did not take into account the turmoil this is causing schools, private preschools, parents and 4 year olds.|(From Rep. Sharon Steckman)
Tonight we debated HF535, the Governor’s voucher plan for preschool. The bill passed on party lines. I am especially disappointed that this House did not take into account the turmoil this is causing schools, private preschools, parents and 4 year olds. Over the last two months we’ve heard from parents and educators that Iowa’s statewide preschool initiative for 20,000 Iowa four year olds is worth saving.
This bill dismantled Iowa’s successful preschool program and reduce preschool access and quality for thousands of middle class families across Iowa; First, it gives parents no guarantee of quality instruction for their children because it ends a requirement that a preschool class be taught by a licensed teacher.
Second, instead of ensuring access to every four year old, it will serve 7,000 fewer children and squeeze middle class families especially hard. The voucher system will also leave parents in the lurch and not support one vital part of the current system, transportation.
Lastly, school districts will have an unfunded mandate to implement the program for the public school and all private schools in their area.
We already know preschool is a wise investment for our state and will help us build a highly skilled workforce ready to compete for jobs in today’s global economy. It is supported by business leaders, parents, and educators because research proves it raises student achievement while saving taxpayers money in the long run.
I am committed to helping Iowa children and their parents by ensuring fair and sustainable funding to increase the number of children participating in quality preschool programs.
The bill is now headed to the Senate.