Effort underway to advocate for emergency funding for nonpublic schools

By Dan Russo

Witness Editor

DES MOINES — Catholic school officials across Iowa are partnering with other nonpublic school leaders and school choice advocacy groups in an national effort to help save private schools and support students.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted all students and schools in America, but thousands of private schools in the U.S. are now facing closure,” stated Trish Wilger, executive director of the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education in a message sent out to media outlets.  “These schools provide a quality education option to millions of students and serve children in lower income families, all while saving states money.  Closure would be tragic for families, students, and communities; and financially devastating for states and school districts who would have to re-absorb these students.”

Congress will reportedly consider a new COVID relief bill, including emergency funding for education, when they return from recess on July 20, according to Wilger.

“Since private schools educate 10 percent of the overall K-12 student population, it is only fair that the emergency education funding for private school students in this next COVID relief bill should be 10 percent of the total amount appropriated for education,” she stated. “This emergency, one-time federal appropriation would provide tuition relief for lower income private school families.”

“Iowans wanting to support this legislative effort should contact their members of Congress immediately,” added Wilger.

Kim Hermsen, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, informed school personnel recently that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is also asking Catholic schools and their families to contact legislators to ask for 10 percent of future emergency education funding to be allocated to nonpublic schools.

“We are up to 130 schools that have announced permanent closure this year and internal surveys tell us 10 percent of Catholic schools are uncertain of their future due to COVID,” wrote Jennifer Daniels, Associate Director for Public Policy for the Secretariat of Catholic Education of the USCCB in a July 13 letter to Catholic leaders.

Information on efforts to contact legislators is at:  https://iowaadvocates.org/take-action/ and  https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/75795/Respond.