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Iowa Secures School Choice, Tees Up Academic Transparency

January 24, 2023

Last year, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds called on state lawmakers to give families more options in education and to establish transparency in public school curricula. A year later, state lawmakers have just delivered a massive victory on the first of these two priorities.

Indeed, Iowa lawmakers have just made the Hawkeye State the latest to advance full education freedom for its students, offering education savings accounts (ESAs) to all students by July 2025 to allow them to pursue private or at-home learning options outside the public school system. In stark contrast to the proposal’s fate last year, Iowa’s state representatives gave it the greenlight Monday, and their peers in the state senate likewise overwhelmingly passed the legislation on a 31-18 vote—sending it to Governor Reynolds for her signature.

With this vote, Iowa joins Arizona and West Virginia in establishing essentially universal education savings account programs, and pulls ahead of a number of other states currently advancing similar measures. This policy solution, which the Goldwater Institute first pioneered in the Grand Canyon State in 2011, is now poised to offer educational options to millions of students across the country.

Iowa’s win also sets the stage for a second victory for Governor Reynolds’ education agenda. As the Des Moines Register reported in 2022, Reynolds’ agenda for parental rights has also boasted support for academic transparency legislation that would require public schools to disclose online to parents the instructional materials being used in class—so that parents could evaluate their local public schools and make an informed decision about whether to send their children to a government-operated school or seek an alternative.

Governor Reynolds’ success in helping to reshape the state legislature this past year has helped secure educational opportunity for thousands of children. Now, that same momentum can help protect all Iowa families from the politicization and secrecy within the state’s public school classrooms via the adoption of a robust academic transparency policy.

Matt Beienburg is the Director of Education Policy at the Goldwater Institute. He also serves as director of the institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy. 



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