Iowa public and non-public schools, along with Iowa parents, are partners in offering an education system for all of our state’s children.

President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, into law last year, replacing the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. ESSA recognizes the need for representation of non-public school interests at the state level to insure their access to the share of federal program funding to which their students are entitled.

Non-public school enrollment numbers are used in the calculation of federal funding made available to the state, which means it is a matter of fairness that nonpublic school students receive their percentage share in a timely manner. This has not always been the case.

In the spirit of addressing the issue, the ESSA directs the creation of a public ombudsman position at the state level to consult, monitor and mediate to insure non-public school students receive equitable treatment under the terms of the new law.

One of the most important features of the new proposal is recognizing financial reality. Public and non-public schools share many of the same costs and regulations in infrastructure, overhead and the provision of services. As those costs have escalated dramatically over time, non-public school students do not have the same access to the tax dollars directed to public school students, placing them at a serious financial disadvantage.

Experience shows that students, families and communities thrive when the best education options are available to Iowa parents. The ombudsman position can be another step in supporting options for Iowa students.