Subscribe for 33¢ / day

I am skeptical of statements made by activist Superintendent Art Tate who paraded Davenport students before the public like political props wearing T-shirts indicating that their only value is related to the per-pupil funding received by Davenport Community School District. According to the Iowa Department of Education’s 2016–17 Funding Allocation Spreadsheet, per-pupil funding for Davenport school district was $11,082. This was higher than Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley, and North Scott school districts whose per-pupil funding were $10,977, $10,110, and $10,335, respectively. This was also higher than the total per-pupil funding of $10,931 for the entire state of Iowa. It appears that Art Tate’s rationale for defying state law and busting Davenport’s budget may be untrue.

Now to the crux of a recent Quad-City Times editorial, “Roby Smith’s Choice: Schools or tax cuts,” and it’s outdated, Democrat dogma that only increased funding improves education — No need for structural changes. Decades of government school funding with declining academic performance demonstrates the fallacy of this perspective. This perspective is a throwback to the days of segregation when Democrats fought to keep black Americans confined to government segregated schools without the option of school choice. Republicans have a history of educational innovation despite opposition from Democrats. Such positive innovations include open enrollment, college preparatory schools, liberal home school laws, dual home/high school enrollment, dual high school/college enrollment, and options such as the “Iowa connections” Internet based public school option. These Republican innovations have greatly improved education without additional cost.

The editorial disparaged the “so-called ‘school choice crowd’” as a special interest group, which only seeks cash rather than structural changes. School choice is in everyone’s best interest. The government run schools need to regard the students as “worth more” than just a source of cash.




Hartsuch, a Republican, served in Iowa Senate from 2007 to 2011. He lives in Bettendorf.