Iowa gov signs into law new school choice program that funds private school students

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Daily Caller News Foundation

Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed school choice legislation into law Tuesday that provides private school students with taxpayer funds.

Under House Study Bill 1 or the “Students First Act,” students in private school will receive $7,598, the average cost the state spends on a public school student, per year for any family in the state to cover private school expenses. The bill, signed by Reynolds on Tuesday, passed the Iowa House in a 55-45 vote and the Iowa Senate in a 31-18 vote on Monday, according to KCCI 8 News.

“For the first time we are funding students, instead of a system,” Reynolds said at a Tuesday press conference. “We are rejecting the idea that the answer to improving education is simply pumping more money into the same system year after year without making significant changes.”

The law creates the Education Savings Account (ESA) program which provides families who withdraw their students from public schools and enroll them in private school with taxpayer funds. Under the Iowa law, the student is eligible to receive funding until they are 20 years old.

In the first year of the program every Iowa kindergartener and every public school student, regardless of income, is eligible. By the third year of the program, every Iowa family will be eligible for the ESA program.

Under the law, public schools within the state will receive $1,205 for each student who lives in their district but attends private school and is funded by the ESA program.

“This is a major win for families looking for greater education freedom and choice,” Jason Bedrick, a research fellow in the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The Students First Act, which makes education savings accounts available to all Iowa families with children in K-12 grades, puts parents in charge of the education options for their children.”

Reynolds’ office did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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