Panel Votes For State Grants For Some Private School Parents

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Eight Republicans on a senate committee have endorsed a plan to send state grants to the parents of special needs students who want to enroll their children in a private rather than a public school. 

That’s Republican Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale. Republican Senator Jerry Behn from Boone would have preferred giving state grants to EVERY parent of a school-aged child in Iowa, but he says this set of students can be a proving ground.

Two Republicans on the Senate Education Committee joined the five Democrats on the panel to oppose the bill. Senator Clair Celsi, a Democrat from Des Moines, says starting with the most fragile students who need the most help is wrong.

Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says the consolidation of rural schools will accelerate if parents are given state money to pay for private schooling.

Bill backers estimate there are about 60-thousand special needs students in Iowa. Opponents say it would shift hundreds of millions of tax dollars from public to private schools if each of those students transferred. However, the bill does not require private schools to accept students with an individual education plan because of special circumstances, like a disability or behavior issues.

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