Letters: If Iowa private schools get our money, why don’t they follow our laws?

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Thank Iowa juries

Why do people sue insurance companies? Most of us instinctively know the answer. Sometimes insurance companies don’t do the right thing. Consider Ernest Wilcke from Spirit Lake, a Purple Heart veteran who fought at Iwo Jima. He filed a claim with his insurance company in 2015 after a neighborhood fire destroyed his roof. His insurance company wouldn’t cover it. That is, until a jury of Iowa citizens stepped in and ordered them to do it. Consider Lon Tweeten, from Woolstock, who bought workers’ comp insurance for his farm operation. In 2018 his son and sole employee got hurt on the job. Every judge has ruled in Lon’s son’s favor, but the insurance company is appealing to the Supreme Court, still refusing to pay his medical bills. Why did they sue? Well, what choice did they have? Insurance companies deny legitimate claims like Ernie’s and Lon’s every day. Thankfully, Iowa juries and the courts are there to correct these mistakes.

Grinnell Mutual’s CEO wrote a guest essay Sept. 24 warning of climbing insurance rates. He blamed inflation, climate change, and, in small part … his own policyholders. He claimed that litigation and large jury verdicts have increased. But that’s not true. There were twice as many tort lawsuits filed in Iowa 20 years ago compared to today, according to the Iowa state court administrator. The national VerdictSearch database shows the number of verdicts over $1 million have shrunk by two-thirds since 2010.

So here is a quick reminder to the Iowa insurance industry. Yes, we are all rooting for you to remain solvent and profitable. We all need insurance coverage after all. But if you don’t want to get sued by your policyholders, then take better care of your policyholders. When an Iowa jury has to step in and order you to pay insurance claims, you have no one to blame but yourself.

— Andrew Mertens, Iowa Association for Justice, West Des Moines

DeSantis has the only viable border strategy

As a lifelong resident of Iowa, I feel compelled to speak out about the uncontrolled surge of migrants at America's southern border. Since President Joe Biden entered office, a staggering 9 million have entered the country illegally, with no signs of slowing. Vicious drug cartels now control much of the frontier, funneling narcotics into the heartland. This is a full-blown emergency.

I myself visited the Arizona border in June of 2021 at the ranch of John Ladd in Cochise County and saw firsthand the border fence and heard of the atrocities that have occurred there with hits placed on Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, formerly of Iowa, by the drug cartel. I am traveling to Texas again to see what is occurring there with our borders.

Ron DeSantis is the sole 2024 contender steeled with the fortitude for this task. He understands that appeasing these terrorists breeds more criminality. Overpowering force is the only language they comprehend.

Previous presidents have yielded to political correctness, neglecting their constitutional duty to repel invasion. But DeSantis will finish the border wall by any method, forcibly blocking illegal entry. He’ll target them directly, crippling their infrastructure and manpower wherever located.

He’ll do whatever necessary, period.

Let's be frank: The stakes are too high for more vacant rhetoric and surrender. DeSantis offers serious solutions, and an iron will to implement them regardless of opponents. That’s the bold leadership so desperately needed if our kids are to inherit a nation still controlling its own borders, and I urge all who value our safety to stand united behind DeSantis before it’s too late.

— Keith Davis, Wayne County sheriff, Corydon

Let’s calm down about what senators wear

With regard to Sen. Chuck Grassley's demand for proper attire in chambers (so important in today's absurdly dangerous political climate), I'm not sure he's aware that what is considered respectable attire has changed over time. When you think about it, a tie is of no use whatsoever and not something our forefathers sported. Dress codes stifle those who would wear something highly appropriate, even bespoke from London's Savile Row in favor of an ill-fitting cheap white shirt and polyester tie. Many politicians who observe the old dress code look sloppy regardless of what they are wearing. So, since Grassley's trying to make a case for requiring a dress code using what has been historically proper attire in the U.S., he will need to bring back the wig. Our forefathers wore them and you can as well, Senator. In fact, our founding fathers wore makeup, puffy shirts, and silk stockings, too. May I recommend Estée Lauder?

In conclusion, if you and your fellow politicians refuse to don a proper wig, I suggest you forgo your hang up on attire in exchange for requiring personal decorum among your peers. For Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, complained on X (formerly Twitter) that “the Senate no longer enforcing a dress code for Senators to appease Fetterman is disgraceful. Dress code is one of society’s standards that set etiquette and respect for our institutions. Stop lowering the bar!” Greene, a paragon of etiquette and social graces, has in the past demonstrated her respect for our institutions by loudly heckling President Joe Biden during his State of the Union addresses.

— Julie Freeman, West Des Moines

If private schools get our money, why don’t they follow our laws?

As a former secondary administrator in a dominantly Catholic school district, I certainly understand why parents currently enrolled in private schools and those those parents who plan to enroll their students would be thrilled to receive over $7,000. Those parents who had been sending their children to private schools were paying property tax for the public school and all the expense for the private school.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 496 this spring. Is it fair to the public schools?

For example, public schools cannot teach about gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through through sixth grade. Private schools are exempt. Public schools must post online list of books in their libraries and publish a process for parents to challenge a book. Private schools are exempt. Public and charter schools must also notify parents or guardians if a student requests to use a different pronoun or new gender affirming name in class. Some school districts sent out emails to parents requesting consent before they approved any nickname for students — even for students who are not transgender. Private schools are exempt from mandatory parent notification.

The students attending public and private schools are boys and girls expecting an education. I do not believe the curriculum or teachers in the private schools are any better than those in the public schools.

This bill the governor signed does not make any sense. Governor, please explain explain why private school students are exempt from several things that public school students are not?

— Ronald L. Donn, Decorah

Haley is the whole package for president

Iowans are accustomed to presidential campaigns. Every four years the Hawkeye State is buzzing with political events, commits to caucus asks, and more. I always tell Iowans, pay attention to how these candidates' campaign. Do they host rallies and leave? Do they answer audience questions? Do they meet with voters or just donors? You can tell a lot about a candidate based on how they campaign. The only candidate's campaign style that impresses me is Nikki Haley’s. Recently she met with farmers in eastern Iowa, hearing their concerns and challenges facing the agricultural community. I have attended two of Haley’s events. I have been especially impressed with Haley’s depth and breadth of knowledge on foreign policies. Her time spent as our UN ambassador has provided her with great insight.

Nikki is meeting Iowan’s face to face, the Iowa way. She stays after every event, greets every voter, and answers tough, unscripted questions like the one I asked. I was interested in a particular topic for a very personal reason. “I believe it is collateral damage from COVID, but we are seeing increased gun crimes in towns the size of Des Moines, Minneapolis, and Knoxville, Tennessee. My son Brandon was shot and killed in Knoxville.” Although she stood several inches taller than me, our eyes were locked, and she expressed her sincere sympathy. “I respect you and your opinions, what can we do? What can I do? Gun laws wouldn’t have changed anything, he was murdered for no reason by a felon in possession.” She said the problem is not with the guns themselves, it is the increase in street crimes. I shook my head in agreement. She stated, “We need district attorney’s offices to prosecute the criminals. We need to send a message and instill fear of consequences for their actions.” At that moment I confirmed which candidate I would support in the 2024 primary.

A candidate shows what and who they care about on the campaign trail, and it’s clear Haley cares about Iowans and everyday Americans. That’s why we need her in the White House.

— Beth Tremaine, Waukee

Child labor law isn’t the cause of higher employment

I was very disappointed in the Sept. 25 story on Iowa's August unemployment statistics.

It's obvious the Register did not fact check the Iowa Restaurant Association's claim that increased employment in the hospitality industry is thanks to recent changes in Iowa's child labor laws.

The best way to check that claim is to compare Iowa's numbers to other states. Those numbers show that Iowa's "rebound" in hospitality employment is similar to what other states saw in August. Minnesota, for instance, added the same number of hospitality jobs as Iowa (2,600) — and they did it without rolling back child labor protections.

The next time the Register reports on economic statistics, I hope they reach out to other sources than just industry PR flacks for comment. The smart folks at Common Good Iowa have spent years studying employment data — I’m sure they would be glad to provide some guidance.

— Evan Burger, Slater

Use budget surplus to help needy Iowans

It's wonderful that Iowa has a huge budget surplus. Now we can properly fund public schools, expand our mental health coverage, clean up our water, provide housing assistance to the poor and homeless, provide health coverage for those without, expand our assistance for the food insecure … right? Use the surplus to help people!

— Jean Richey, West Des Moines

Symphony shines under the radar

The Des Moines Symphony is, quite simply, a sparkling gem. It is not only an outstanding symphony, but draws attention to the cultural strength of our community. Its performances of both classical and modern symphonic music scintillate. Its exceptional music director, Joseph Giunta, is not only a master of his art, but brings an energetic, spirited, and mischievous wit to the concert hall. The orchestra features world-renowned soloists like Anne Akiko Meyers, who gave a tour de force performance of Arturo Marquez’ Fandango on Sep. 24.

DSMSO supports music education in the area via its Academy’s six ensembles that engage some 400 students and its varied program of concerts and events entertain a cross-section of our community.

The Symphony deserves recognition as a pillar of excellence and a beacon of cultural depth in our community and state.

— David W. Leslie, West Des Moines

Lock up Congress until members figure this out

The deadline for the possibility of a government shutdown is approaching very fast. Everyone in congress knows this deadline is Sept. 30. At some point they are going to have to reach some kind of agreement; why not before the deadline?

ALL members of Congress should be required to attend and to stay in session until an agreement can be reached. I think that if Congress allows a government shutdown to occur, they should all be fired! They need to grow up, learn to communicate, be willing to listen and willing to compromise.

The shutdown probably wouldn't have a big impact on them, but there are a lot of people counting on them. That is why we elected them in the first place. Get your act together and get the job done before Sept. 30.

— Carol S. Dicks, Des Moines

Learning the humanities paid off for me

I appreciate Blaine Greteman's guest column on "What are the liberal arts? A literature scholar explains" (Sept. 24).

I was in the liberal arts college at Drake University in the early 1970s as a political science major. But after a year or so, I wanted to learn what I called the Leonardo da Vinci learning method: a major in Humanities.

Greteman referenced Cicero that a "full liberal arts education will equip students with a deep understanding of human emotion, skills in literary expression and a 'comprehensive knowledge of things.'" I did exactly that. I studied philosophy, religion, art history, psychology, sociology, literature, speech, political science, history, etc. My focus was to learn and not to align my major with a future career.

I have no regrets and it prepared me well in obtaining my first post-college job (Iowa Civil Rights Commission investigator) and in expanding my understanding of the world. Unless students are very clear as to their career future (most think they know, but I sense many don't), I would encourage them to study the liberal arts. It will open up their lives in ways they had not imagined, to experience what Du Bois and Cicero called "the knowledge of being free."

— Kevin Pokorny, Des Moines

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Letters: Why don’t Iowa private schools have to follow our laws?