Letter to the editor: To truly fund education, our tax dollars should fund the product


In response to a DI writer’s column, the public needs to consider how the state funds schools, not education.

Jacob Prall had an opinion piece published on Wednesday (‘School choice’ gone now but not forgotten, Feb. 21) concerning school vouchers and public education. The only problem is that Prall almost completely ignored the most important part of this issue: education.

He talks almost exclusively about schools, the vendor, rather than the product, education. This seems to be a frequent problem with opponents of school vouchers. They confuse all their terms and miss what we are all trying to talk about with this issue.

I’ll use an analogy to make my point. When the state of Iowa wants to build a bridge with public money, it will accept bids from private contractors to find which vendor can produce the product for the best possible price.

The state does not start its own construction company to produce the bridge, because ultimately what the taxpayers are funding is a bridge, not a vendor. Even if a public construction company were to exist, that would not limit the state to only using the public company. Again, the people are buying a bridge.

Whoever can build the highest quality bridge at the lowest price should get the bid, regardless of whether they are a public or private vendor.

Prall makes the complaint that some students who go to private schools get a worse education.

This is akin to President Trump’s recent talks about getting a Blue Apron-style food-stamp program. Everyone who was up in arms about that proposal rightly said people should be free to choose their own food products, even if those products are less healthy. Likewise, educational vendor choices should be left to consumers, parents.

Our state government currently does not fund public education. It funds public schools, the vendor. To truly fund education, our tax dollars should fund the product, regardless of vendor.

– Scott Hastings

University of Iowa staff member

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