The Iowa Legislature has passed a sweeping bill that will privately fund a student wishing to go to a private school or online instead of the public school they now attend.
There may be several drawbacks to the measure that are not addressed. These are testing, curriculum, transportation if the student is not studying online, and admittance according to West Hancock Community Schools Superintendent Wayne Kronemann. He also believes that there should be better oversight of private institutions just as there are for public schools. He says that school choice already exists through open enrollment agreements between parents and area schools.
Ken Kasper is the Superintendent of Schools for the Garner Hayfield Ventura Community School District. He is concerned about the sustainability factor regarding the Student Supplemental Aid (SSA).
Forest City Community Schools Superintendent Darwin Lehmann has been a vocal opponent of the idea of school vouchers. Lehmann has advocated for better funding of the public school system. While respectful of the private institutions that are in the area, he believes that taxes generated for public use should not be used to fund private entities like private schools.
Governor Kim Reynolds says a state website is available to provide information to low-income parents who want to sign up for nearly $7,600 in state funding to cover their child’s private school expenses.
Reynolds spoke with reporters shortly after signing the bill creating the new program for parents with kids in private schools this fall. In 2026, the state funding will be available for all Iowa families with a student in a private school.
A crowd of legislators as well as state and national activists who’ve lobbied for the bill cheered as Reynolds spoke in the Capitol.
Reynolds proposed far smaller programs in 2021 and 2022, but neither could win enough GOP support in the Iowa House. In the June Primary, the governor campaigned against some House Republican opponents and the bill easily cleared the House Monday night with 54 Republican yes votes. House Speaker Pat Grassley says it’s the culmination of what Republicans have been telling voters.
The new program to provide state money to cover private school expenses is on a fast track. The governor says companies that want to compete to manage the state-funded accounts were able to submit bids on Tuesday immediately after the signing of the bill.