Hello District 84 from the State Capitol!
Week three of the session at the State House started out with a major piece of legislation, House File 68, that focused on creating Education Savings Accounts for K-12 students.
The main points of the bill are the state will contribute $7598 to an education savings account for each student attending private schools. The bill will take three years to be fully implemented. Even if a student transfers to a private school, the public school district that the student lives in will still receive $1205 in funding. There is also more flexibility for public schools to use previously allocated money specifically for programs like Teacher Leadership and could use this instead for increasing teacher salaries. The bill also was amended to extend the Governor’s proposal to extend operational sharing for school districts through 2034.
All across Iowa, there have been parents demanding to have a voice in their children’s education. Parents wanted a say in the curriculum and not have woke political beliefs, very inappropriate books, mandatory masking, etc. forced on children.
Other states with ESAs have around 3% of students attending private schools. Currently, many students are unable to attend a private school due to their family finances. For example, in-parish tuition is $7000 at Xavier in Cedar Rapids and $11,200 for non-parish tuition. It’s not a big problem to many families who can afford it. Families that don’t have the financial means are too often left out. With this law, it makes it much more attainable for lower income families to send their children to a private school if it’s a better fit for the student. If the student is thriving in their current public school, the student will most likely stay in that school.
There have been 52 studies on the financial effects of private school choice in other states. 47 of these studies found savings for taxpayers. Four of these studies found no change in costs and one found additional costs. This could very well be a win/win for Iowa where students can go to the school that best fits them and even save money!
There also have been polls conducted as to whether Iowans support school choice, and a strong majority support it, as seen here: www.iowaace.org/resources. Over 75% of Iowa parents polled support a universal Education Savings Account.
I am by no means against public schools, but believe parents deserve the option of sending their children to the best school – public or private. As seen in the graphs included, the over $9 billion general fund budget sends over 44% of it to schools. If you include colleges and universities, education is about 54% of the state budget.
For more information on the new school choice law, please visit:
I hope this finds you healthy, warm, and please be careful. Have a great week!