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The Iowa School Choice Bill and What it Means

 On January 10th, 2023, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a school choice bill into law, that would give Iowa families with public-school-attending children or families with private school-attending children who are below 300% of the poverty line a voucher that they can use at private school, money that before would go to public schools. 


Over three years, the bill would expand to include more families with children attending private school, until in 2025 it applies to every family with school-going children. For families,         money left over from paying tuition can be used on other education expenses, such as textbooks or testing fees. The bill also allocates 1,205 to public schools for each child in the district who chooses to attend private school using the bill, which schools can use to adjust teacher salaries.   


 In an article by the Des Moines Register, at the signing, Reynolds cited giving families more choice in where to send their children as the reason for the bill. The expanded Republican majority, from the red wave that occurred in Iowa in the 2022 midterms, added necessary supporters to the bill, which had been defeated in the House in previous years. 


According to a fiscal analysis of the bill, it will cost almost 107 million dollars in its first year, increasing to almost 345 million dollars in its fourth year once the bill expanded to cover every family with school-going children.  


In their case against school choice bills, the ACLU cites problems with private schools often being religious and being able to pick and choose which students they take. Private schools, according to the same article, also don’t have to meet the same educational requirements as public schools, such as standardized testing. 


As specified by an article from the Gazette, another major concern was that the bill would end up taking money from public schools, citing the bill’s effects in Ohio as a major reason for those concerns. 

Iowa is not the first state to have this legislation. 


As stated by the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2017, fifteen states had school voucher programs, a type of school choice program, that provides money for students to attend private schools. It remains to be seen how the bill will affect schools in Iowa.


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