There is a bill about to be finished up in the Iowa Legislature. Few people are aware of what it does. House File 813 is a bill touted as giving Iowa families more school choices for their children.

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It is simply absurd to characterize this lawful expenditure of funds, as authorized by legislation passed by elected state legislators, as "taxation without representation". The government pays many private entities to perform various functions without any member of the board of the private contractor being elected by the people. Now, if the legislators were appointed by a foreign power and given the authority to tax the people without the people being able to chose the legislator, that would be taxation without representation. This bill gives students who are being failed by their district the opportunity to use tax funds to pay for a better alternative that serves their needs.


Mr. Bohlken,

I am a bit surprised at your response to be honest. You usually are the one that espouses a more conservative viewpoint. I would honestly think you would welcome local oversight of tax dollars.

I am also a bit surprised you are saying our local schools are failing us when our Governor usually touts the strength of our current educational system. It also surprises me you don't seem to agree with our Governor.

Right now there are many choices parents have that do not entail our local tax dollars being spent and controlled by people other than our locals school boards. I have seven I came up with and I may be missing one or two.

Parents can send their kids to the district in which they live or they can open enroll their child in a neighboring district. If those two choices don't fit the educational needs, parents can ask local school districts to create their own charter schools that are directed and funded by locally elected school boards. If that is not a desired choice, school districts that do not have more advanced courses in math, science or other core classes or offer vocational programs like welding, auto body, etc., those parents can ask the districts to send their child to a community college or local college for those classes. Parents always have the option of having their child use online courses approved by the State Board of Education for their entire education. I believe it is Bridgewater Fontenelle that offers these courses online for any child in the state of iowa to take. There also is the option of private schools. Many parents, for lots of reasons, opt for this choice. The last option I could think of is home schooling and many parents use this option as well. I have a hard time believing we do not have enough options for kids if parents think they are not getting the proper education, let alone allow one in which local tax dollars are taken from the local school district with no local oversight on how those tax dollars are spent.

When money is appropriated by a governmental body, USUALLY elected officials have to approve. In this case once the charter school is created, the only governing body that has oversight, according to the current version of the bill, would be the Iowa Board of Education. None of those members are elected nor will the bill allow them to control the tax dollars. Our tax dollars are therefore going to charter schools that none of our local elected folks have approved.

Your point somewhat reminds me of the British response to the American Patriots in the 1770's. When they claimed taxation without representation, the British response was you are represented by Parliament since that body represents all British citizens. While the Iowa Legislature represents all Iowans, they don't make decisions on how local districts spend their dollars. This bill can take away that local control by locally elected leaders. That point is indisputable.


First, I did not say all local schools are failing or that Iowa's schools are generally failing. Some schools may be failing some students. This legislation addresses that problem.

Second, Americans in the revolutionary era were not represented by members of Parliament because they were not allowed to vote for any of them. Iowans are, however, allowed to vote for legislators who enact tax legislation and make appropriations of those tax revenues. So, it is still nonsense to characterize this legislation as "taxation without representation".

Third, the best example of "local control" is the parent's control of their child's education. This legislation facilitates that.


Mr. Bohlken

As I mentioned there are numerous options currently in law that allow parental choice. I fail to see a reason why this bill is necessary, especially when it will take tax dollars from the local district. This bill allows an outside group to set up a charter school in ANY district in Iowa. It also does not require that charter school to take all students. So that charter school for instance does not have to take autistic kids, students with disabilities or children they deem not worthy of the school. Yet our tax dollars would go to support that institution, nor is there any guarantee of local district representation on the Board of the charter school. Bad legislation doesn't get better simply because a few are in support of it.


I believe the critical issue is that the governing boards of these charter schools are not elected locally. This leaves the system vulnerable to radical or dangerous ideologies or fiscal improprieties. Public schools are not perfect but there is a mechanism (the election of the school board) to balance community values and expectations. I cannot support the proposed charter school bill without more safeguards protecting taxpayers. If you want to educate the next generation, stay in the mainstream or pay for it yourself.


Hi Steve!

Two thoughts on charter schools, critical race theory and the 1619 project. When you say taxation without representation are you talking about our current administration in the White House? Who cheated via dominion voting machines, vote harvesting and absentee ballots? I don't blame people for being upset with public schools. This year public schools have FAILED our children miserably.


The point of the piece is if a charter school is proposed by an outside third party group, it will be funded with property tax dollars from that local school district. Under the proposed law the Charter School board does not have to have anyone from that exact local school district on its board. Therefore taxes given to that charter school are done so without any elected representation of the local school district from which the taxes re taken. The point of the opinion piece is not about who won or lost the election nor any supposed voter fraud. You missed the point entirely.


Hi Steve!

A couple of items that inspired charter schools.. critical race theory and the 1619 project. Not to mention our current administration in the White House is taxation without representation also known as cheating via absentee ballots, dominion voting machines and vote harvesting. I don't blame people for being upset with public schools. This year, public schools have FAILED our children miserably.

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