Writers have commented on the recently concluded 2017 Iowa legislative session, covering hotly debated topics such as budget cuts, collective bargaining and gun rights. One issue that did not garner much attention in the waning days of the session was expanding school choice or the ability for parents to choose the best educational setting for their children.
In Iowa we are blessed to have a world class public education system. As good as it is, it does not promote access to the full range of educational opportunities available. That’s why I fully support school choice.
An initiative was introduced to Iowa lawmakers in 2017 to establish Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs. By establishing a statewide ESA program, Iowa will allow parents to access a portion of per-pupil state funds to enroll their child in non-public education programs, which could be private schooling, home schooling or other educational services. These funds would help offset the costs of preapproved costs like tuition, tutoring or textbooks or even to attend classes online. This is not a voucher program. It is an initiative to allow parents to choose from a variety of educational opportunities that best facilitate learning for their child.
As lawmakers return home for the summer and fall, I’m hopeful they will listen to parents and families about the benefits that ESAs can provide. Many Iowans, including me, are paying close attention to this issue, and we are looking forward to continuing the thoughtful discussion on school choice when the 2018 legislative session begins.