Both chambers of the Iowa Legislature passed legislation early Tuesday creating an education savings account for all K-12 students, making the Hawkeye state the second state to enact a universal school choice program.
The legislation, championed by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA), passed the State House by a vote of 54 to 45 and the State Senate by 31 votes to 18.
Under the terms of the legislation, which is now heading to Reynolds’ desk for her signature, all K-12 students will be granted over $7,000 each year through 2025 through an education savings account to be used to cover all manner of education-related expenses can. including private school tuition. Reynolds could sign the law as early as Tuesday.
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“Every student deserves an education tailored to their needs! Democrats want to protect educational freedom only for those who can afford it,” Reynolds tweeted Saturday. “Freedom of choice does not belong to a few, it belongs to all parents and students!”
Every student deserves an education tailored to their needs! Democrats only want to protect educational freedom for those who can afford it.
Freedom of choice belongs not only to a few, but to all parents and students! pic.twitter.com/3BD2zD2uXp
— Governor Kim Reynolds (@IAGovernor) January 21, 2023
The program is limited by family income for the first two years, but is available to all students by the start of the 2025-2026 school year. The legislation met universal opposition from state Democrats and teachers’ unions, who denounced the legislation as a plan to weaken public schools and funnel taxpayers’ money to private schools.
Reynolds had attempted to pass a similar bill last year, but faced opposition from her own party. She was reelected in 2022 in a landslide 20-point victory as Republicans expanded their legislative majorities in both houses.
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School choice advocates say education savings accounts allow families and students, regardless of income status, to choose the educational experience that best suits their needs, rather than relying solely on the public school system.
In 2022, Arizona became the first state to introduce a statewide universal school choice program, with the then-government. Doug Ducey (R) encourages other states to follow his example. Iowa is set to become the second state with a universal school choice program. Similar bills are under consideration in several other states, including Florida and Texas.