Letter to the Editor

Iowa school choice is the right choice

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Iowa General Assembly (IGA) needs to change the K-12 educational system for Iowa students from the current geographical-assignment system to a complete school-choice plan where the tax money allocated follows the child as soon as possible in order to bring all the benefits research has shown these plans provide to our state. Public Interest Institute has written about this problem and its solution numerous times in the past and has been joined by Iowans for Tax Relief, Tax Education Foundation, Iowa Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, and numerous other groups in advancing this common-sense reform. Recently the fourth edition of "A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Choice" by Greg Forster made the following summary of the benefits of school choice:

"The empirical evidence shows that choice improves academic outcomes for participants and public schools, saves taxpayer money, moves students into more integrated classrooms, and strengthens the shared civic values and practices essential to American democracy. A few outlier cases that do not fit this pattern may get a disproportionate amount of attention, but the research consensus in favor of school choice as a general policy is clear and consistent."

How is it possible that one simple shift in funding streams can deliver all these benefits? The simple answer is the power of competition. We see it every day in the improvements in our automobiles, our cell phones, our shopping centers, and all the other aspects of our economy where providers have to compete for our business. By contrast, the areas of the American economy where we don't see "more for less" are those where government prevents competition - Amtrak, the post office, VA hospitals, and public education.